The first day of filming for Destiny, the first Sine Fine Films production, had the majority of scene filmed at the Buddha
Pavilion and Fu Dog Garden at Allerton Park. Since that day in 1996, Allerton Park has been a regularly used
location, especially when scripts called for palace gardens or a enchanted fairyland. Nine productions (The Destiny
Trilogy, The King of Elflin's Daughter, Destiny: Mini-Series, Pandora's Box, The Gift Bearer, Eidolon, and The Cursed
Destiny of Pandora's Gift Box) have filmed at various places all around Allerton Park. The script for The King of Elflin's
Daughter was written specifically to have as many scenes filmed at Allerton as possible, simply to explore the various
spaces that could be filmed.
The Robert Allerton Park and Gardens is one of the most beautiful places in Illinois, and is located outside the town of
Monticello, IL and is owned and operated by the University of IL More information available at: http://allerton.illinois.edu/
The MacLeod Farm is the second most used location in all of SFF's productions. 10 of the 18 productions have scenes filmed at the farm: Destiny, Destiny III, The King of Elflin's Daughter, Destiny: The Mini Series, Pandora's Box, The Gift Bearer, Eidolon, Cursed Destiny, Quatrain, and Twisted Tales. The best thing about the MacLeod Farm -- apart from the fantastic and amazing MacLeods themselves -- is the diversity of locations in one place. A road, fields, trees, a fairy fountain, a barn, a tepee, two houses, and a ship are some of the places we've filmed. Unfortunately it's not open to the public, so if you want to see the farm you'll have to watch SFF videos. A huge thank you to the MacLeod Family for letting us film there anytime and all the time since 1996!
The beautiful Lake of the Woods Park was first used as a location in 1998 for The King of Eflin's Daughter.
Later it was used in several episodes of Pandora's Box and Eidolon.
It was planned to be used in several more productions, but given the
distance to get there closer parks were chosen at the last minute instead.
The park is huge and SFF has only filmed in a few small areas including by the
old covered bridge (Eidolon, Episode 3), the lake (Pandora's Box: Episode 21),
by the Sangamon River (Pandora's Box: Episode 2), and one of the small pavilions (Pandora's Box: Episode 3).
Various places in the woods were used in Episode 2 of Eidolon and in the opening sequence in The King of Elflin's Daughter.
SFF has filmed there in every season and hopes to film there many more times in the years to come.
Lake of the Woods is open to the public year round and is located near Mahomet, IL.
Fort De Chartres is one of the most awesome places I have ever filmed. A recreated fort from the 18th Century, Fort De is an ideal location for historically set scripts. Peter Normand first introduced me to this amazing place in the winter/spring of 2001. I intended to film the majority of Episode 5 of The Curse at the fort, but that episode was never filmed. It wasn't until The Gift Bearer that I finally got to film there. I specifically wrote Episode 3 and 4 of GB to be set in Fort De and utilize as much of the grounds and rooms as possible. We later filmed several scenes from Episodes 9, 10, 18, 19, and 21 in the Chapel, Officer's rooms, courtyard, and the Powder House.
Fort De was also used as the abandoned castle in the Sorcerer's World in Episodes 5 and 6 of Dream Chasers. That was also the first time I got to see the fort in the snow. It was beautiful, but very very cold.
Fort De Chartres is open to the public.
Not a lot of colleges have a forest in the middle of the campus but Southern Illinois University in Carbondale has a beautiful forest named Thompson Woods right behind the Student Center. Since it was the closest wooded area to SPCTV, it was became a frequently used location for the Southern shows (The Curse, The Gift Bearer, and Dream Chasers) whenever I needed a scene shot in the woods.
Thompson Woods is open to the public, though mostly only open to students at SIUC.
What can I say about The Parthenon Museum in Nashville that isn’t obvious from the photos above? It’s awesome. Seriously awe-inspiring. We were very lucky to be able to film the majority of Episodes 5 & 6 of the Gift Bearer here. The reconstruction of the Parthenon compete with giant statue of Athena was a perfect place to film for a time-travelling TV show! I specifically wrote the episodes to be filmed there. Unfortunately the Parthenon was undergoing remodeling on the outside at the time so there was a lot of scaffolding and we were not able to film outside on the steps like I had hoped. We did enjoy a picnic lunch on the lawn outside by the lake and fountains.
If you ever get the chance to go to Nashville I highly recommend visiting the Parthenon Museum. I’m sure all of us who visited it in October of 2001 would agree that it’s one of the most amazing places we’ve ever filmed in.
The Parthenon Museum is open to the public.
I stumbled across Dodds Park when I got lost trying to find the entrance to Parkland College one day. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to film there. Seriously, if you saw a giant stone gateway wouldn't you want to film there too?
Thus far only two productions have had scenes filmed here. It was used as the gateway to the "Land of Park", the secret location to a weapon of mass destruction in Episode 11 of Pandora's Box. It was used again as one of several landscapes for a dream sequence in Episode 3 of Eidolon. It was also intended as a major location for the unfilmed movie The Crown of Ensor.
Although Dodds Park is a complex of sports fields, its primary feature is the huge stone monument, a tribute to Olympic Athletes. Dodds Park is owned and operated by the Champaign Park District and can be visited during park hours.
For more information please visit:
Le Shoppe is a wonderful store in downtown Champaign that sells ethnic and unusual clothing, jewelry, and art. Many of the costumes pieces used in various SFF productions were purchased at Le Shoppe. So when I needed an interesting looking store front for The Walking Stick, I immediately thought of Le Shoppe. They were kind enough to let us film there. If you like exotic, ethnic, and unusual items please visit Le Shoppe in downtown Champaign.
In the spring of 2001 I asked Peter Normand, Location Manager for The Curse, if he knew of any caves in Southern IL. Turns out there are a lot of them. The one we decided on is Shelter Bluff, located in Ferne Clyffe State park near Goreville, IL. The cave is really more of an open-air cavern and has a history that dates back thousands of years. Huge, amazing, and awe-inspiring are just some of the words to describe this place. It's definitely in the Top 5 SFF Filming Locations.
Thus far only two productions have had scenes filmed here: Episodes 3 & 4 of The Curse, and Episodes 10 & 11 of Eidolon. I had no idea when we filmed there that Ferne Clyffe was so huge. There are so many amazing places in the park, including a waterfall, that I would love to film in someday.
Ferne Clyffe State Park is owned and operated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and can be visited during park hours.
For more information please visit: http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/r5/ferne.htm
Although most of the shooting on the very first day of filming - June 8, 1996 - took place at Allerton Park, the first scene was actually filmed at the Wilbur Mansion. Owned at operated by the Champaign County Historical Museum, the Wilbur Mansion was a "living history" museum, restored to how it looked in 1907, that was open to the public for tours and events.
The first scene filmed for SFF's first production, Destiny, was filmed in the Herb Garden that volunteers had created on the side lawn. Sine Fine Films never actually filmed inside the mansion. I always intended to, but by the time I had a script that called for the interior of a Victorian mansion, CCHM had sold the Wilbur mansion to a private individual and purchased the Cattle Bank, one of the oldest buildings in downtown Champaign.
As far as I know the herb garden we filmed that first scene in is no longer there. The mansion is no longer open to the public, but the Cattle Bank is: http://www.champaignmuseum.org/
Mind Games was the most difficult movie to line up locations for because it takes place on a space ship. There aren't a lot of those in Central Illinois. The most difficult location was of course the ship's main flight deck. We didn't have the space or money to build a set, but luckily I discovered the Staerkel Planetarium. It is without a doubt one of the coolest locations we have ever filmed in. Not only did the amazing staff give up permission to film there - they let us push buttons, add our own set pieces and props, and more! At least half the movie was filmed there, and the physical body of one of the characters - the ship's computer Astrolabe, - was "played" by the Planetarium projector. We were even allowed to premiere Mind Games in the Planetarium and it was the first SFF movie show publicly and on a really big screen!
Huge thank you to David Leake, without him and the Planetarium Mind Games might never have been completed.
Please visit: http://parkland.edu/planetarium
Carbondale in Southern Illinois is a great town. The downtown is full of beautiful old brick buildings and that was exactly what we needed when we were filming street scenes for The Gift Bearer. In Episode 9, Minerva arrives on a street in the 1920s and in Episode 14 the sisters, Xavier, and Crumby all travel back in time to the 1950s to kidnap an undercover agent. The general look of downtown Carbondale is a mixture of buildings from the 1860s to now and there's a timeless look to a lot of the alleyways. We only filmed scenes for the those two episodes there but I would love to film more in Carbondale, because it's just a great place to film.
Cafe Kopi in downtown Champaign is one of the cutest coffee houses I have ever been in, possessing a uniquely artistic atmosphere with mismatched tables, friendly staff, and many delicious food and drink options. It's only been used as a location twice since 2004, but it's a great place to film any sort of cafe or restaurant scene so I'm sure we'll film there again, management permitting. If you're ever in the CU area I highly recommend paying a visit to Cafe Kopi.
For more information please visit: www.cafe-kopi.com
Only one scene from one production has been filmed at this location so far, but the arch is cool I may have to film more here. A scene in the Devil & Kitta Gray called for a fountain that one of the characters is stealing pennies from. There are not that many fountains in the CU area that are easily accessible for a scene like that and the fountain at the Hallene Gateway was perfect.
The Hallene Gateway in on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana is a beautiful landscaped area centered around a large, ornate arch from 1871. There's a great story about how the arch was rediscovered and the park created. If a great place to visit and when you're on the UIUC campus.
Learn more at: http://uihistoriesproject.chass.illinois.edu/virtualtour/landmarks/hallene/
The SPC-TV office/studio on the 4th Floor of the Student Center at SIUC was a great location for creepy office rooms, building a set, filming voice overs, doing publicity photo shoots. SPC-TV made it possible to produce several TV Shows and short films. Almost all the productions from 1999-2002 were filmed and/or edited at SPC-TV. Without their help many of the best shows including Pandora's Box and The Gift Bearer would never have been made. Thank you so much to all the people at SPC-TV who helped out and supported the productions made during those years - they wouldn't have happened without you.
The Homestead, also known as the Stasheff Residence, was the most widely used location. Of the 23 productions filmed between 1996 and 2006, 17 of them had at least one scene filmed somewhere in the house. The Homestead had over 20 rooms and numerous nooks and small spaces that could be transformed into everything from an old book shop to a space ship, from an Edwardian Tea room to a cloning machine room.
Almost every room in the house was used for at least one production and many rooms were used in multiple productions. One room had 12 different sets over the course of 9 productions. Because it had lots of very different rooms it became the default location for anything indoors, and even the exterior of the house was used in a few productions. Most importantly, however, the Homestead served as the base of operations for ten years.
The house was sold in 2007, so it was no longer possible to use it as a location. However it's still one of the best and most loved locations in SFF history.
The Holiday Inn Express in Tuscola was the location for a set of scenes in Episodes 10 and 11 of Eidolon. A large portion of the episode, including half the dramatic 'dream vs reality" climax at the end of Episode 11 was filmed in two lovely rooms, a hallway, and an exit corridor of this hotel.
It was really nice of the owners and staff to let us film there, and with no additional charge beyond the cost of the room - thank you so much!
So, if you're ever in Tuscola - probably shopping near the huge outlet mall - please consider staying at this wonderful hotel: http://www.hiexpress.com/hotels/us/en/tuscola/tsctb/hoteldetail
There are so many wonderful parks to film in throughout the Champaign-Urbana area. One of my favorites is Carle Park, which has a lovely pavilion that has a timeless appeal. We've also filmed at the playground in the park for the muffin scenes in episode 7 of Eidolon. I've used the pavilion in several productions including Destiny and Destiny III, The Dragon & The Unicorn, and Eidolon. I'm actually surprised I haven't used it more and I will make a point of filming there again soon. If you're ever in Urbana, IL I recommend stopping by for a visit, it really is a beautiful place.
For more information please visit:
The Virginia Theatre is one of the most beautiful buildings in Champaign, IL. It was first used as a location in Destiny II when the upper lobby was converted into Queen Lavinia's Sitting Room. It was used again the following summer for Destiny III. The small building/office next door served as part of Balthazar's abode in Destiny III, as well as the stage itself. The Long Take, a short film, was also filmed in the upper lobby.
In 1999, I decided to use the theatre as the main rebel base in Pandora's Box and almost every episode had at least one scene filmed there. Many rooms were used including the balcony in the theater, the main lobby, concessions area, and the dressing rooms in the basement.
This was a wonderful location, a fantastic building, and I am so glad we were able to film in it as much as we were. Special Thanks to John Ebby who let us film there. If you're ever in Champaign you should stop by and catch a movie or show.
For more information visit: http://www.thevirginia.org
Filming a sci-fi thriller that takes place completely on a space ship is not easy when you have no money to build sets. The space ship in Mind Games was created using hallways and rooms from many different places in and around Champaign-Urbana, IL. One of my personal favorite locations used in this movie was a strange, out of place hallway that connected part of the Chancellor Hotel to the Sunshine Dinner Playhouse Theatre on the 4th floor. With triangular windows and white siding it looked like a hallway from a sci-fi movie and was perfect for Mind Games. Only a few scenes were filmed here but it was a fun space to work in.
Sadly most of the Chancellor Hotel, including this hallway, was torn down many years ago. It's actually hard to even figure out where it was once located. It will live on forever as a corridor in Mind Games. Many thanks to the hotel staff, the Sunshine Dinner Playhouse, and Rodney Woodworth for letting us film there!
When we needed a space that looked like an office but had places to take cover and where we could film a big shoot out scene, we had a little trouble finding one. Luckily WIDB, the student radio station at SIUC, agreed to let us use their station as a filming location for Episode 16 of The Gift Bearer. I can't thank them enough for allowing us to shoot there and I can only imagine what the DJs working at the time were thinking as they watched people attacked with phone books and shooting each other with fake guns.
Finding rooms that look like the inside of a castle in central Illinois is not easy, being allowed to film in them for free is even more difficult. Luckily there is the beautiful Wesley United Methodist Church in Urbana. With the several rooms including Tudor-looking hallways, comfortable lounges, wood paneled cafes, and the magnificent Great Hall, Wesley was perfect. Almost all of Destiny II, and a large number of scenes in Destiny, Destiny III, and Destiny: Mini-series were filmed here. Many thanks to all the staff at Wesley and Bonnie Lacey Taylor for allowing us to film in their beautiful building.
For more information please visit: http://wesleyui.org/
The Kansas City Renaissance Festival grounds are huge. They cover several acres of land that includes both meadows and forests. There are many fantastic buildings there as well as gardens, paths, theatre arenas, and courtyards. We were very lucky to be able to film all of Twisted Tales: Cinderella there, and even though the day ended up with pouring rain it was a blast to film with a great script, great actors, and a fantastic location. My only regret is that we only got to see just a few of the wonderful places and vistas available there. I'd like to be able to film there again someday.
Many thanks to all the people who work there and a special thanks to Carrie Shoptaw for allowing us to film there and Roger Clements, Jim Dyer, and Roseann Powers for all their help.
The KC Ren Fest is one of the best festivals I've ever been to and if you're ever in the Kansas City area between Labor Day and Columbus Day you should check it out.
For more information please visit: http://www.kcrenfest.com/
The U of I Arboretum has been one of my favorite locations over the years and I often use it when there isn't enough time to go to Allerton Park or I want variety in a beautiful garden. I first discovered the Arboretum while filming Pandora's Box and it became an extension of Zarina's royal gardens. It was the perfect place to film Cat and Decarlo's wedding as well, since there was a beautiful little gazebo like area (where we were able to film in the rain), as well as the wonderful and colorful flower garden for the reception area. When I needed a nice picnic area for the princesses in Charming I immediately thought of the Arboretum and also find it a great place to film the pre-wedding scene for The Devil and Kitta Gray. I know I will use this location again because it really is a wonderful place to film.
For more information please visit: http://arboretum.illinois.edu/
In 1998 I was searching for a nice house to film the final scenes from The Perfect Combination in when Kate Weber volunteered her home. It turned out to be the perfect place to film those scenes, including a comedic chase scene. Fourteen years later we were able to film there again for two short films in the movie Fortunate Ones - Magic 8 which takes place in a typical house, and Forever which takes place in a basement. The Weber residence was a fantastic place to film both of those (especially because it was air-conditioned!) and I cannot thank Kate and her family enough for letting us film there.
I wanted to film at the beach ever since I wrote beach scenes in Destiny III in 1998, and again in 2001 for The Curse, but it wasn't until July of 2004 that I finally achieved that goal. There were several scenes in Eidolon, including a couple of dream/nightmare sequences, that were filmed at Forest Park Beach on the shores of Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful place to play - crowded on a nice summer day, but that's okay. The cast and I had a super fun time playing - I mean "filming" - in the water. Unfortunately, I risked taking Horatio (the main camera) into the lake and he got soaked in a wave (he's okay now) which ended filming a little bit earlier than intended (which just left more playtime).
Super huge thanks to Brittany Ann Whalen who found the location and arranged for us to film there. It was a fabulous location and I'd love to film there again someday!
For more information please visit:
Parks are a great place to film and in Central Illinois finding a forest with a lake isn't always easy. Luckily there is the beautiful Crystal Lake Park in Urbana. We first filmed there while shooting Destiny in 1996. We rented the boathouse in 1998 for the 3rd Frank Awards and company party. Then in the summer of 2000 we once again filmed several scenes at Crystal Lake - this time for the TV show Pandora's Box. Several scenes in Episodes 21, 22, and 23 were filmed there. It was four more years before we got a chance to film there again, but in the fall of 2004 we filmed several scenes on the lake with a paddle boat for Episode 10 of Eidolon. I sometimes forget what a beautiful park this is and a what a great place to film, so hopefully we will film there again in the future. If you're in Urbana and have time, swing by Crystal Lake Park.
Please visit this site for more information:
Giant City is a beautiful and amazing park in Southern Illinois. Peter Normand introduced me to this wonderful place while filming Episode 6 of The Curse. Naturally I wanted to film there again. I got the chance while filming Episodes 9-10, and 20 of The Gift Bearer. We returned again, exploring more areas of the park for filming multiple episodes Dream Chasers. I would normally mark where scenes were filmed on the arial map above, but I really can't tell where the places we filmed were located on that. The park is so large that I had trouble finding the same locations when I was actually there! If you're ever in Southern Illinois take a trip to Giant City - it's a great place to explore.
For more information please visit:
Fort Massac is one of the coolest locations I've ever had the pleasure (and permission!) to film in. The first full shooting day for The Gift Bearer was filmed at the Fort. The fort we filmed at was a reconstruction of a French fort built on the site in 1760. It was later torn down due to damage suffered from the years and elements, and rebuilt in the style of the American fort built on the same site in 1803. We filmed again, this time at the new fort, in 2005 for the PBS mini-doc about George Rogers Clark.
Fort Massac is a wonderful place to visit. if you're ever near Metropolis, IL don't forget to check out Fort Massac as well as the giant Superman statue.
For more information please visit:
When we needed a place to serve as the druidic home for Diyara in Pandora's Box, Diana Neatrour volunteered her place. Several scenes from Episodes 6, 7, 16, 18, and 21-23 were filmed in the house, utilizing almost every room on the first floor and basement. When the location I had arranged for the tavern in Episode 22 fell through, she said "you could use my basement" and we did! The office in the house was used as Leffridge's office and for some reason always induced fits of giggles while filming in it. It was a great location!
Thank you so very much to Diana and her family for letting us use their residence for filming!
Kaufman Park is a great little place to film with it's lovely lake, docks, and wooded areas. We first filmed there for Eidolon, shooting several scenes from various episodes on the main dock and near the woods in September of 2004. We later filmed more scenes there on the other side of the lake in February of 2005, also for Eidolon. I am sure we will be filming there again at some point. If you are in the Champaign area and are looking for a great place to go boating or fishing, or even just to take a walk or have a picnic then check out Kaufman Lake.
For more information please visit:
Campus Lake, located on the grounds of Southern Illinois University, is a beautiful place to visit, explore, and film. I did not film there as much as I wanted to, but I did film several scenes there for Episode 2 of The Curse and a dream/nightmare sequence from Episode 8 of Dream Chasers.
Campus Lake features a beach, a boathouse, fishing, slender concrete docks at various places around the lake, and lakeside dorms. If your ever at SIUC you should take a walk around Campus Lake, it's a beautiful place in every season.
For more information please visit: http://www.reccenter.siu.edu/index.php/facility-maintenance/1223-campus-lake-walking-trail
Parkland College is a nice campus with some great spaces to film. When filming began for
Pandora's Box in 1999, I was working with Barbara Gladney, head of PCE-TV, on the Destiny: Mini-Series
project and as a camera operator for studio shows. Between that, working over the summer at College for Kids,
and being a student there for 2 years I had lots of time to explore the campus. When I wrote Episode 11
(which was Episode 4 at the time) I knew I wanted to have the majority of the episode take place at Parkland
because I really wanted to film something there. I arranged permission to film on a Saturday in June and
we had a lot of fun. I returned to the fountain area in the fall of 2004 to film a scene from Episode 3
of Eidolon. I really need to film more things there because Parkland is cool. And it’s a fantastic community
college with adult education opportunities, so if you’re looking take a class or two it’s a great place to go.
For more information please visit: