Decatur, Illinois is well known for the horrible smell that comes from Tate & Lyle. It is also the world headquarters of Archer Daniels Midland. Decatur is a decent sized town of around eighty thousand people and for a short while we had around two hundred Hollywood visitors.
In 1992 Archers Daniel Midland executives were caught in a price fixing scheme, that netted prison time for most of them and millions of dollars were paid out to consumers in a settlement offer. The tale of the corruption lead to a book which in turn lead to a movie. The movie was filmed right here in our very own home town of Decatur, Illinois.
The thought of having celebrities such as Joel McHale and Matt Damon at my doorstep was very exciting to me. I have always been a huge Matt Damon fan and to know that he was going to be in my city for a extended period of time left me star struck. I knew I had to meet him and I had to be as involved in the making of this film as much as I could without being arrested.
My dreams of waltzing onto the set were very short lived. Most of the filming was shot in the downtown area where the streets were blocked off and security was very heavy. This posed a major problem for us locals as traffic was diverted and we had to adjust to plan alternate routes at the most inconvenient times.
I was very fortunate to be able to observe the filming that took place at the Decatur Conference Center. I had a friend who worked the front desk and was able to see all of the directors chairs, big cameras and all the lighting that you would expect from a movie set. We were pushed back and asked not to call anyone as they did not want a riot to ensue. The entire film crew was very polite and cordial however they did have a job to do and wanted to get it done. I also got my wish and got to see Matt Damon from a distance.
Rumors often ran rampant through town of where filming was to take place next and also to where the cast and crew were staying. It made for fun conversation to speculate on where they having dinner that night. I would like to say that for the most part people were respectful of the crew however there were times when citizens of this town over stepped some personal boundaries.
When the movie hit the big screen, the turn out at the local theater was beyond measure. I have to say it was really neat seeing our town through the lens of tinseltown.