Tornado Hits Oakland Township — But it's All for the Movies
Warner Bros. production has turned Oakview Middle School into a scene of destruction this week for an action film about a twister that hits a high school graduation.
You don't have to take cover from this twister. In fact, it's a welcome addition to Oakland Township — and all of Michigan.
A movie known only as "Untitled Tornado Project" has begun filming in the state. This week, a cast and crew of about 300 are on location at a school off the rural Lake George Road in Oakland Township.
The scene is surreal: a mangled school bus sits upside down on a hill in front of Oakview Middle School, part of the Lake Orion school district. All around, trees and debris are scattered, evidence of a natural disaster. Preparing for the next scene, crew members take sledgehammers to a car they need to appear destroyed and left in the tornado's path.
Here's the movie synopsis, according to publicist Tammy Sandler:
"In the span of a single day, the town of Silverton is ravaged by an unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes. The entire town is at the mercy of the erratic and deadly cyclones, even as storm trackers predict the worst is yet to come. Most people seek shelter, while others run towards the vortex, testing how far a storm chaser will go for that once-in-a-lifetime shot."
Oakview has been transformed into Silverton High School for the scene. Behind the school, a giant fan and a crane that pours rain onto the set help with the special effects. Sandler said about 200 students are cast as extras for this part of the movie.
The Michigan location is the result of a reinvestment in the film industry by Michigan leaders. After pulling back last year on tax incentives for movie companies, the state recently put together a new film tax incentive plan for the coming years.
Stars of the tornado project include:
- Richard Armitage (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” upcoming “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”)
- Sarah Wayne Callies (TV’s “The Walking Dead”)
- Matt Walsh (“Ted”)
- Nathan Kress (TV’s “iCarly”)
- Arlen Escarpeta (“Final Destination 5”)
- Jon Reep (“Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay”)
- Jeremy Sumpter (“Soul Surfer,” TV’s “Friday Night Lights”)
The film is produced by New Line Cinema and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Steven Quale is directing the film from a screenplay by John Swetnam.
Rumors have circulated that the movie is a part of the popular "Twister" movie series; Sandler said those rumors are not true.
The movie will on location at Oakview through Thursday. The entire movie will be shot in Michigan over the next several weeks.
There's no public access to the set, though Lake George Road has been busy with curious onlookers driving slowly by. Sandler said anyone who would like to try to be an extra can send their name, phone number and photo to UTP@realstyleonline.com.