For “Columbus” movie fans who want to walk in the footsteps of Jin and Casey, there’s a map for that.
The Columbus Area Visitors Center has been handing out a “Guide to the Movie Sites for ‘Columbus’ — A film by Kogonada” since shortly after the movie opened Sept. 1 at YES Cinema, where it has become the most watched film ever shown at the downtown cinema.
And for viewers who have seen the film, the guide is a quick way to find the destinations where movie characters Jin and Casey challenge each other to understand the significance of Columbus’ architecture and how architects including I.M Pei, Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese and Deborah Berke can hope to influence life choices through their designs.
Spoiler alert: this story contains details about film scenes that you may not want to hear prior to viewing the film. But since ticket sales already have exceeded 6,500 locally, much of what you will read here is already well known through reviews or word of mouth.
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The idea of creating a map of Casey’s “top 10” architectural sites in Columbus actually began during its three-week shoot July 31 to Aug. 20 of last year, when the “Columbus” cast would hang out at the visitors center between filming location setups and center staff would learn where the crew was headed next.
With the added attention locally in the past two weeks, as well as from earlier showings in New York and Los Angeles, the visitors center has been getting inquiries from people — Columbus residents and out-of-town visitors — anxious to see where main characters Jin and Casey were filmed in the city.
Many of them intended take a photo in the same location as the movie filming, said Jan Banister, gift shop manager at the center.
Since the visitors center already had a map detailing the architectural highlights of Columbus, marketing Erin Hawkins put together a one-page draft list of filming locations with corresponding links to the visitors center tour map. That was to help movie fans find the film sites more quickly.
The center is working on a more detailed listing that could be available by this weekend.
Drawn to Columbus
“We are seeing guests now who have only heard of Columbus through the movie,” Hawkins said.
The movie is about a 19-year-old Columbus resident, played by Haley Lu Richardson, trying to decide whether to leave home and pursue her dreams as she cares for her mother, a recovering addict. She strikes up a friendship with a 29-year-old man, played by John Cho, visiting the city from Korea to be with his seriously ill architect/scholar father who had came to Columbus to deliver an architectural talk.
Richardson, who portrays Casey, met someone on her flight to Indianapolis for the Labor Day weekend movie premiere in Columbus. That person had never heard of the city, but wanted to see it after viewing the “Columbus” movie.
“So we wanted to be prepared and make it easy for people to find what they are looking for,” Hawkins said of the guide, which lists 10 specific locations shown in the movie, and a synopsis of the dialog between characters in the scene which relates to the architect or architecture.
The sites range from First Christian Church downtown, one of the first locations in the movie, where Jin’s father collapses off-camera, setting off the chain of coincidences that result in Jin meeting Casey at the walkway on the east side of the Bartholomew County Library near the Inn at Irwin Gardens.
The church, the inn and the library are among the first three locations listed on the visitors center movie site guide, followed by mentions of the Irwin Conference Center, North Christian Church and Southside Elementary School.
Ironically, there is no complete list of Casey’s “top 10” architectural sites as the character never reveals the full list in the movie. But among the favorites she does mention in the movie dialog are First Christian Church, the Irwin Conference Center and the Mental Health Center at 2975 Lincoln Park Drive, as viewed from the People Trail.
Casey’s top pick has puzzled some movie watchers. It’s the First Financial Bank branch at 707 Creekview Drive, where Casey reveals she likes to look at the building lit up late at night from the parking lot, and explains to Jin how the building was important to her as she dealt with difficult times, including her mother’s methamphetamine addiction.
Her least favorite? In a film moment that has elicited laughter from Columbus audiences, Casey’s pick is Columbus City Hall, with its cantilevered front.
However, Jim reflects on the significance of those cantilever arms later in the movie, and how the triangular building, designed by Edward Charles Bassett of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, creates a visual relationship between the old and new architecture downtown. It’s on the visitors center movie scene guide list even though it’s not one of Casey’s favorites.
One building that is not on the visitors center movie scene list, but is among Casey’s favorites, is the former Republic building at 333 Second St., across from Columbus City Hall. Jin and Casey talk about transparency while looking at the glass building and Casey realizes her mother is deceiving her about her work habits.
Jin and Casey bond in scenes at Irwin Conference Center, where Jin challenges Casey to stop speaking in architecture-tour guide mode and tell him what she really likes about the building.
And the two have a moment in the Miller House where she talks with Jin about the interior, as tour guide participants file by across the room.
Visitors also have asked about some of the more obscure filming locations, including Friendship Alley, which doesn’t have any movie characters in it, but shows the city’s ambiance.
They even want to know where the ramshackle alley is that Casey walks down carrying a plastic bag. Hawkins said she isn’t sure where that alley is.
Visitors center staff have provided directions to the hospital, where Jin visits his father, and to Henry’s Social Club, where Jin and a colleague of his father, Eleanor, discuss his father’s condition. The game shop that Jin walks through is actually Viewpoint Books downtown, a location visitors have asked about.
Some local residents have been asking about the Mental Health Center scene, Hawkins said, because it’s a location that’s not on a main thoroughfare and is viewed in the movie from a different side than most people usually see.
“The really fun thing about this movie is that we are seeing Columbus’ tried and true architectural greatest hits in a new way,” Hawkins said. “It’s an absolutely great thing for the city.”
“Guide to the Movie Sites for ‘Columbus’ — A film by Kogonada” is available free at the Columbus Visitors Center, 506 Fifth St. The corresponding tour map showing the locations on a Columbus street map is $3.
Several secondary locations from “Columbus” filming are listed on “A Guide to the Movie Sites for ‘Columbus’ — A Film by Kogonada.”
- Friendship Alley, downtown Columbus
- The Robert N. Stewart Bridge, entryway to downtown Columbus
- Bartholomew County Veteran’s Memorial, on the Courthouse grounds
- Columbus Regional Hospital, 2400 17th St.
- Viewpoint Bookstore, 548 Washington St.
- Henry’s Social Club, 423 Washington St.
- Columbus Container, 3460 Commerce Drive
- Haw Creek (meanders through downtown Columbus)
Source: Columbus Visitors Center, 506 Fifth St.
See all of the ‘Columbus’ movie hot spots at http://www.therepublic.com/?p=624797&preview_id=624797&preview_nonce=6eda0afbce&post_format=standard&preview=true