‘Chicago Fire’ TV show to film in Union; extras needed
UNION – Hunting for a place to film an accident scene for the NBC hit drama, "Chicago Fire," Producer John Roman immediately thought of the Illinois Railway Museum in Union.
A fan of the museum, Roman had filmed a commercial there in the 1980s and returned to direct an episode of the television series "The Untouchables" in 1993.
"I love that place, a bunch of ol' railroad gals and guys who donate their time and money. They muffed and buffed it with their donations, and really improved their property incredibly," he said. "I knew it was a great resource sitting there."
Roman, who's produced episodes of "Chicago Fire" since its first season last year, called upon the museum once again as the series returned for a second season. "Chicago Fire" premiered Monday.
The television series based on the firefighters and drama surrounding the fictitious Chicago Firehouse 51 will film an accident scene in Union.
Roman wouldn't reveal much more about the scene to prevent from spoiling the upcoming season for fans, but a call is out for roughly 150 extras to be available Oct. 4-10.
"We're looking for people who live in the western suburbs," Roman said.
The extras, adults and children, would take on non-speaking roles acting as victims, pedestrians, workers and such, said Joan Philo, the extras casting director for the upcoming episode.
The series will cast through Oct. 2, with those interested asked to send photographs of themselves, height, weight, age, profession and phone number to email@example.com. The subject line should say "five day."
She stressed that spots will go quickly.
"This is happening very fast so I need them to jump on this if they want to be considered," Philo said. "They can't sit on this or they won't get the opportunity."
Philo also cast extras for the 1993 hit movie, "Groundhog Day," filmed on the Woodstock Square, which was transformed into "Gobbler's Knob."
"We created a core group of extras to work our 'Knob' scene and it was so cool," she said. "All the extras bonded and made new friends and had a ball.
"I'm excited to work again up in the area and get a great bunch of people who have good energy, are dedicated, professional, kind and happy to work on the set giving the background a realistic look with their fabulous faces," she said.
With its four miles of private railroad track and its roughly 450 historic locomotives and rail cars, including steam locomotives, the Nebraska Zephyr and other electric and diesel trains, the Railway Museum has plenty to draw upon. The museum recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.
"It's a great set up and great folks and we're happy to give them money," Roman said.
Museum officials always are eager to welcome film crews, having served as a setting for other projects, including 1992's "A League of Their Own.” The museum is closed during the week and only on the weekends during the fall season so filming does not impact museum-goers.
No filming for "Chicago Fire" will take place during the weekend.
"We welcome it. We solicit it," said Nick Kallas, the museum's executive director. "It's a nice boost to income. . . Look at 'Groundhog Day' and the carry-over for Woodstock. So I think that's a good thing for the county, and you can hang your hat on that."
Of the scene, he said it definitely would involve railroad cars, "But the whole thing is still to be determined, you know."
Along with being known in the film world as an ideal location for scenes involving trains, the museum is known worldwide as the largest of its kind in the country.
"The other day, we had a visitor from Australia," Kallas said.
Oddly enough, though, many in McHenry County fail to visit because the museum is in their back yard, he said.
"You go to stuff miles away," he said. "That's human nature, I think . . . The people that are coming as extras and all of that, they'll at least find out where we're located."
The scene being filmed is expected to be part of “Chicago Fire's” seventh episode this season, airing in a few months, Philo said.