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SIMPSONVILLE – “The neighbors have all been calling, wondering what in the world is going on,” said Bruce Pearce, gesturing around his sprawling yard at dozens of people bustling around, setting up lighting, cameras, sound equipment, and even a wardrobe tent and dressing room.
“I told them, ‘Don’t tell me you’ve never seen a film crew making a movie before!’” he said with a chuckle.
Pearce shook his head in amazement as he talked about how Louisville-based City on a Hill Productions got interested in his Civil War-era home located on Nolan Pike, just off Todds Point Road, as a location for its film,Song of Songs.
“They wanted a homey-looking old farmhouse for the movie, and they got on the Internet to look for one, and they saw our house, because it’s for sale,” he said.
Julie Kinsolving, a Shelbyville realtor, said she never expected to get such a call about a house.
“They had a scout looking at locations in Southern Indiana and Kentucky; they were looking for an old, Victorian-style farm house, and when they called, I got really excited,” she said.
Richard Ramsey, director and screenwriter, said that when they discovered the house on the Internet, they couldn’t wait to check it out.
“Four of us came out here to see it and we just fell in love with it right away,” he said. “We thought it was a perfect setting to represent the sweet, natural world that Jed shared with his wife.”
This 2-story white frame house, which sits back a couple of hundred feet from the road, has a front porch running the length of the house and matching rocking chairs. Surrounding it are flower gardens and a lush green lawn.
Bob Smith, who was raised in the house, along with his brother, Barry, said he estimates it was built from 1861 to 1865. It features four fireplaces, five bedrooms and a graceful, curving staircase.
“What I like most about growing up there was that I had my own room,” he said, with a chuckle.
Smith said before the house was sold to the Pearces in the 1970s, it had been in his family since his grandfather bought it in 1925.
“It only has forty acres now, but it used to have two hundred and twenty; we raised tobacco and had a dairy,” he said.
Ruth Pearce said she and her husband, who for 16 years has worked at F.B. Purnell Sausage Company in Simpsonville, hated to put the house up for sale, but they are both in their 80s and are not up caring for it and the grounds anymore.
“We will be very sorry to go, but there comes a point where you know it’s time,” she said.
Producer Shane Sooter echoed Ramsey’s sentiments about the house.
“It’s a beautiful place and just a perfect setting for the film,” he said.
Sooter calls Song of Songs“a modern retelling of the life of [Biblical figure] Solomon.”
“It’s really a love triangle,” he said.
The film – City on a Hill’s first feature film – centers on the life of a man named “Jed,” played by Alan Powell, who is a musician who has an affair with another musician, “Shelby,” played by Caitlin Nicol-Thomas.
Jed is torn between the world of his music career and that of his wife and home at the farmhouse. The cast, which also includes Ali Faulkner, who plays “Rose,” Jed’s wife, are all from the Louisville area.
Pearce, said when the company contacted him and told him they wanted to make a film at the house, he and his wife were floored.
“We talked about it, and we really liked the script, because he [Jed] finally figures out that God doesn’t want him to live that way, so he comes back home to his wife,” Pearce said. “So we finally decided that maybe it could touch somebody in a similar situation, and bring them around to living a better life, so we agreed to let them do it,” he said.
The company has put the Pearces up in a hotel until they wrap up filming next week.
Nicol-Thomas, who plays “the other woman,” sporting a fake tattoo on her arm that spells the name of her character, said she loves the property.
“I think it’s a sign,” she said. “I was just coming up to the Shelbyville exit when I got a call that we were going to film here.”
Sooter said it was ironic that way that Ramsey came up with the name “Shelby” for Nicol-Thomas’ character.
“He was driving down the road, wondering what to call her character, when he drove by Shelby Broadband, and he said, ‘That’s it! Her name is going to be Shelby!’”
Before he turned to go back to his car and out of the hustle and bustle of the “set,” Pearce glanced over at some food the crew had set up under a tent behind the house.
“Is that all you’ve got?” he asked? “Tell you what, before you all leave here, I am going to fix you-all a breakfast like you’ve never had before.”
No doubt the crew will say it’s gooood!