After spending six weeks working in and around Guthrie, the cast and production crew of the indie movie “Asking For It” have wrapped their filming. During their stay, the movie set up headquarters at the Pollard Inn and used multiple local businesses for housing and meals, as well as shooting locations.
Stacy’s Place, Rooster’s Hard Times Club, Guthrie Junior High, and the Carnegie Library were among the locations that were used for filming, but other hometown favorites also benefited from the influx of out-of-town business. Employees at downtown restaurants, bars, shops, and vendors had the chance to develop relationships with cast and crew who made Guthrie their home away from home for over a month.
From daily trips to Rick’s Fine Chocolates and Coffee and Hoboken Coffee Roasters to impromptu dance parties on downtown sidewalks, our town invited this particular movie crew to a more in-depth relationship than others who have visited in the past. This is due, in great part, to the openness of the cast and crew to engage with the people of Guthrie. These were not “Hollywood types” who stayed apart from the population of the community.
The friendliness, courtesy, and inclusiveness of members of the production was evident, even when schedules were tight and things went wrong. Members of the production team were quick to state that they would replace any person on the crew that acted in a way that was inappropriate or caused an unsafe working environment. That statement was backed up after a small fire ignited on set in the junior high and the special effects team was restructured to insure future safety.
Off the set, the people involved with making the movie brought Guthrie something that we need from time to time—an outside perspective. They joined us for downtown Halloween trick-or-treating. They engaged in our lives by eating with us and joining us at The Jungle bar for karaoke and drinks. They asked about our experiences living in Oklahoma, rather than accepting “fly-over” stereotypes. They also showed us more of themselves than we could ever read in an article or watch in an interview.
“Asking For It”—written and directed by Eamon O’Rourke and produced by Ezra Miller--includes a cast of strong young female actors such as Kiersey Clemons, Alexandra Shipp, and Vanessa Hudgens. With stunts coordinated by veteran Cole McKay, it also provided ample opportunities for up-and-coming stunt woman Ebony De la Haye to exhibit her action-hero-level skills.
In addition to well-known actors brought in to perform lead roles, extras and featured minor roles were filled by Oklahoma residents. Local performers were sourced through word-of-mouth and open casting calls by Freihofer Casting. Actors and individuals of all ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, body types, and abilities were brought in to work on the film.
When shooting a party scene with a large number of extras from the LGBTQ+ community, actors and members of the production crew worked hard to create a completely inclusive environment. Before filming began Ezra Miller appeared in the extras holding location, sporting their usual unicorn pajamas, nail polish, lipstick, facial stubble, and trench coat. They spoke to the room and stated plainly that there would be no tolerance for behaviors or speech that caused anyone to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable. There were no exceptions made. From the top down, everyone involved in the almost twelve-hour shoot was expected to behave respectfully and in the spirit of acceptance.
It may not have been a necessary speech for the eclectic crowd gathered, but it was still appreciated and applauded by the room. The group, which included almost every imaginable variation of the gender/sexuality spectrum, quickly developed the feeling of family. Throughout the night, both during and in-between takes, a strong sense of community was built and new friendships were made as In the middle of the Bible Belt, a group of societal outliers experienced a feeling of complete safety that is often missing in small, rural towns.
The film explores the theme of recovery from sexual violence through the building of an accepting, protective minority community and also delves into the fantasy of vigilante justice. In our current culture, where more individuals are speaking out every day as survivors of sexual abuse and violence, “Asking For It” is bringing the secret dreams of many into the light of day by giving us a different kind of “superhero”. Instead of comic-book characters, these heroes are everyday people seeking their own justice. It’s a scenario that speaks to the frustration of many whose personal tragedies are never righted.
While any change to the routine of our small city can cause frustration for citizens and local officials, the filming of “Asking For It” provided opportunities for the members of our community on a level that far outweighed the inconveniences.