Though Universal Pictures and the State of Wisconsin have not yet made any official announcement regarding the shooting Michael Mann's historical gangster film Public Enemies in any communities around the state, the production is moving forward. The film has opened offices in Chicago, one of the primary locations slated for shoots, and scouting continues in Wisconsin. This weekend a representative of the film will be in town in search of classic vehicles for the movie. According to a radio ad, they are to be used "during filming in the Madison area."
"One of my jobs is to get background cars for the shoots, which will be in most of the scenes of the movie," says Howard Bachrach, picture car captain with Public Enemies. He explains that numerous period automobiles and other vehicles will be required for the production, as the story focuses in large part on the bank-robbing exploits of John Dillinger, played by Johnny Depp. Cars will be required both in larger-scale city scenes in Chicago and in smaller towns that will serve as settings for the film. Potential locations in Wisconsin include Madison, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, and Manitowish Waters.
Bachrach is seeking vintage cars, trucks and buses produced between 1930 and 1935, and will be at the Overture Center on Sunday, January 27, to speak with owners interested in auditioning their rides for the movie. "We're looking for cars with an original exterior color and condition," he says. "It's very important that the cars look like they're from that era."
Owners are asked to bring their vehicles to West Mifflin Street between the Overture Center and the central branch of the Madison Public Library between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Bachrach will photograph the vehicle and have the owner fill out an information sheet. These will be shown to Mann, who will make choices in advance of the scheduled start of shooting around the second week of March. Bachrach will contact owners whose vehicles are selected and make deals with them regarding use and compensation.
The fact that the production is scouting cars in the Madison area is a sign that Public Enemies is ready to get started. There's no word yet on when or where Johnny Depp may be coming to Wisconsin (or likely co-star Christian Bale, either), but it's clear that the film's wheels are in motion.