EXCLUSIVE: Emilio Estevez, Christian Slater talk filming 'The Public' in Cincinnati

Estevez: Cincy is in an 'incredible renaissance'

CINCINNATI -- Emilio Estevez worked for more than 10 years to get "The Public" -- an upcoming drama set in and filming at the Cincinnati Public Library -- into production.

Now that filming is almost over, Estevez said he's balancing the stress of directing a mostly nighttime shoot by giving praise to a city he loves. Filming here has allowed his stars, including Alec Baldwin, Christian Slater and "Westworld" actor Jeffrey Wright, to get their first taste of Cincinnati.

"Emilio definitely loves this city, and I see why," Slater said, ticking off a list of the landmarks he visited during the shoot: The Roebling Suspension Bridge, the Cincinnati Art Museum and, of course, the library. "It's really good. It's a great town."

There was never a question of whether or not Slater would be involved in "The Public," he said. He first read the script 10 years ago, eager to work with a director he described as "a great, talented guy," and said its story rings just as true in 2017 as it did in 2007.

Watch Tanya O'Rourke's complete interview with Slater in the video player below:

 

Estevez agreed.

"It feels like the timing on this could not have been more perfect," he said. "Essentially, this is an occupy film. It takes place during the coldest winter the city has seen in a long time, and the homeless shelters are overwhelmed, and the patrons of the library decide to stage an occupy and say, ‘We are a de facto homeless shelter.'"

It was important to Estevez that his adopted hometown play itself, he said, and he credited the city with accommodating the film's shooting schedule. The fact that the film is set chiefly at night helps, he said, but the leeway offered by the library was still remarkable.

"I don't think there is any other library in any other city in America that would allow us the sort of access that we've had," he said.

Kristen Schlotman, executive director of Film Cincinnati, said access was the result of collaboration among a wide variety of city agencies, including City Hall, the police department and local television stations such as WCPO. (Keep an eye out for us, Hollywood!) All the pieces were necessary to create the authentic portrait of the Queen City.

Watch Tanya O'Rourke's complete interview with Estevez in the video player below:

 

"I think you have a director that is not only passionate about Cincinnati, he wants to live here and make films here," Schlotman said. "He cares how the city looks, and he cares about the locations and wants to leave them in a place where they want to have him back."

The cast of "The Public," Schlotman added, was the largest ensemble she could remember coming for a single feature in her 30 years with Film Cincinnati. (Other recent productions have included "Miles Ahead," starring Don Cheadle, and the Oscar-nominated drama "Carol.") That doesn't just mean good publicity for the city when the film makes it to screens, she said -- it also means the visiting cast "raising the game," training and extending new opportunities to the local crew.

For Estevez, that's part of the reason he does it. Although he admitted the nighttime shooting schedule was tiring, he's worked -- with help from his son, Taylor Levi Estevez -- to find the joy in creating something special in a city he loves.

"Oftentimes, the second cities in America are overlooked. I've gotten tired of trying to convince the people in Los Angeles and New York how special Cincinnati is," Estevez said. "The restaurants, the music, the craft beer, the crew ... I think what's happening in the interior corridor of the country is pretty special, and Cincinnati in particular is a super vibrant, super exciting city.

"I just feel like I'm here in the middle of this incredible renaissance you guys are experiencing, and it's super exciting."

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