Anyone trying to get around near the Scout Cabin in Riverside last week might have found the area unusually active. From early in the morning on March 25 until at least midnight, the normally sleepy area along the Des Plaines River was the set of a new TV show pilot scheduled to air this fall.
Riverside in general and the Scout Cabin, in particular, has become a popular choice for location scouts for everything from films to TV shows to commercials.
Last week, 20th Century Fox TV took over the Scout Cabin to film scenes for the pilot of Runner, starring Paula Patton, who appeared in the film Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and Adam Rodriguez, formerly on the TV show CSI:Miami.
“They’ve really passed the word around that the Scout Cabin is great for filming,” said Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, whose officers had to provide some traffic control on First Avenue on March 25 as film crews set up in the woods east of First Avenue.
Two Riverside police officers were also assigned to the area around the Scout Cabin, where Fairbank Road was closed to traffic for several hours on March 25. Most of the filming for the scenes shot in Riverside took place inside the Scout Cabin.
The production took over the cabin for the entire week, prepping it both outside and inside to become a set Sunday through Tuesday. Filming happened Wednesday, followed by the cleanup Thursday and Friday.
Early Wednesday, vehicles and trailers began arriving for the shoot, with many of the larger vehicles, including the cantina, staging in the parking lot of P.J. Klem’s restaurant across the river in Lyons. The production company used a shuttle to move people back and forth from the staging area to the set.
According to Brian Fairley, the location scout who procured the Scout Cabin for 20th Century Fox, Riverside has really jumped onto the radars of production companies.
“It’s just a place that’s popping,” said Fairley, otherwise known at B. Fair.
It’s the second time Fairley has sought out the Scout Cabin for a set. Almost exactly a year ago he procured the Scout Cabin for a short-lived TV series on NBC called Crisis. The cabin was turned into a winter cottage for that production.
Fairley said he thought of Riverside again when he got the location notes for Runner.
“It called for a romantic, quaint bed-and-breakfast and they wanted a drive-up,” said Fairley. “You can see [the Scout Cabin] as an oasis during the winter. You can dress it up on so many different levels.”
The inside of the cabin was transformed into a romantic woodland getaway, despite a power outage on March 24 that had crews scrambling to find generators to allow workers to complete the set before Wednesday’s shoot.
Riverside’s location just a short drive from the city is also attractive to production companies, and they’ve also found the village film-friendly.
“I’ll try to bring as many productions as I can that way,” Fairley said. “It’s a hidden gem west of Harlem.”
In 2013, Riverside tightened its rules for filming in the village as the number of requests began to increase in the wake of the filming of the Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves film The Lake House in 2005.
The village increased the amount of money it charges production companies for everything from police officer and firefighter compensation to commandeering buildings and roadways. Riverside also now requires companies to put down a $15,000 deposit to cover costs of filming and requires the companies to notify nearby residents in writing about what to expect and for how long.
When NBC came to Riverside on two different occasions in 2013 to film scenes for the TV show Betrayal, the network racked up a bill of about $25,000. It was after that experience that the village put a new fee schedule in place.
Runner wasn’t the only bit of filming that happened in Riverside in the past week or so. On March 21 the Chicago History Museum had a production crew and actors in the village re-enacting a portage near the confluence of Salt Creek and the Desplaines River for a documentary.
The filming didn’t require any special services, and the $15,000 fee was waived since it was such a small production, said Cathy Haley, the assistant to Riverside’s village manager.
While the group did use the Scout Cabin, “it was just so they could stay warm,” Haley said.