When Canal Winchester went Hollywood

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Clif Spruill stands with his 1955 Chevy that was used in the filming of “Mischief,” a movie filmed around Canal Winchester and central Ohio in 1984. Spruill also had a brief, non-speaking role in the movie.

More than 35 years ago, Hollywood came to Canal Winchester with the 1984 filming of “Mischief.”

While it would not be the last time the city was used in a movie or show—in 2005, portions of “Horrors of War” included city scenes, along with cinematic shorts “Metal Storm” (2006) and “Accidental Art” (2009), “Mock and Roll” (2017) and a 2016 episode of “Holly Harold, A Way Out”—it was the first time the community of Canal Winchester was invited to participate.

“Mischief,” set in 1956, tells the story of youthful transformation from teenage geek to cool dude. The movie starred Kelly Preston, Doug McKeon, Catherine Mary Stewart and Jami Gertz. The working production title was “Heart and Soul.”

“They were in the area for so long,” said Mayor Mike Ebert. “They filmed in Canal Winchester, Lithopolis, Rock Mill, Baltimore and Hamilton Township and maybe more that I’m not aware of. Each evening, Carolyn and the boys and I would go to the shoot location for that day and watch how things played out. It was kind of strange as everything was filmed backwards. I remember watching several scenes in the actual movie that were not filmed in sequence to the filming we saw on location.”

Ebert recalled there were four homes in Canal Winchester that were included in exterior shots—three on Mound Street and one on Columbus Street.

“In the movie they all appeared to be on the same street and the families were all neighbors in the film,” said Ebert. “The filming was not what I expected. They would only film for short periods of time, maybe two to three minutes and would repeat the same scene several times until they got what they liked. It was pretty cool having a film crew in town every day for probably three weeks or more. I remember we had some pretty cool temperatures for the time of year, I believe it was June, and all the actors and actresses were wearing clothes for a summer shoot and most had no coats.”

City resident Clif Spruill and his 1955 Chevy were more than observers. He and his car were both paid minimum wage by the hour to appear in “Mischief” and Clif can be briefly seen in a service station scene shot in Nelsonville.

“It was pretty exciting having the film crew in Canal Winchester,” said Spruill. “You had to do scenes over and over again and that got kind of boring. The scenes in Nelsonville took three weeks for filming and then the crews moved on to Canal Winchester. It sometimes took two to three days to shoot a scene, but it may only show up as five minutes or less in the movie.”

Local artist and retired teacher Sandy Packer recalled watching filming on Columbus Street and waiting for hours to catch a glimpse of the actors. She said stand-ins were usually the only ones she saw as everything was fine-tuned until the actual actors appeared.

“It was a very exciting time for Canal Winchester,” said Packer. “We were interviewed for the possible usage of our home in the movie. If they had chosen it, the street would have been closed quite a bit and that would have been detrimental as it is on a main artery.”

Linda Henry Boving felt like she had a movie star in her family. Her mother, Marcella Taylor, appeared on screen in two scenes in “Mischief”—one as a chaperone at a dance/prom and another in a fight scene at a drive-in.
Boving and her mother, along with Boving’s 18-month-old child, went to open auditions in Nelsonville.

“Neither my child nor I were cast, but my mother was picked to play a mom,” said Boving who lived at the corner of West and Waterloo streets when the movie was filmed in Canal Winchester. “I was jealous. I thought she was a movie star. When she got her first check from 20th Century Fox, she didn’t cash it. She framed it and hung it on the wall. When the movie premiered in Columbus, a big white limousine picked up my mom and a number of the other ladies in the movie and they arrived in style.”

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