The people of Enid have a great pride in their city, and for a place populated with about 50,000 people, they know how to mind their manners when company comes.
They know how to keep quiet and how to be respectful, even when dazzled by news that Hollywood stars have come to town to make a movie and temporarily live among them, shop among them and go out to dinner among them.
But to make sure, “movie-making etiquette” information was disseminated to residents when cast and crew came to town in November 2016 to make “Wildlife,” starring Oscar-nominated actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan.
The movie opens Friday, Nov. 9, in Tulsa, as well as Enid.
The message was simple, said Marcy Jarrett, director of Visit Enid: Don’t bother them; they have a job to do.
“We got the word out to basically leave them alone, let them shop if you see them shopping, and wait to post your social media posts so they’re not bothered,” she said.
“And the people of Enid were just so good about it, a real blessing from the start.”
Consider this example from Rob Houston, the agency’s communications coordinator: “Very soon after that came out, Jake was shopping in a local grocery store, and a post ended up on the store’s Facebook page.
“I spoke to them and asked, ‘Please don’t publicize that right now. Take your photos, but post them after they leave.’ And they said, ‘Oh, I get it,’ and they took it down and posted it later after everything was done. It’s good that people get it.”
“It’s important to us because it’s a reflection on all of us, and we want them to come back here again,” Jarrett said of film productions — and they already have.
Independent coming-of-age drama “To the Stars,” starring Kara Hayward (“Moonrise Kingdom”) and Liana Liberato (“If I Stay”) filmed in Enid in 2017.
“Their people got the word that it’s good working in Enid,” said Steve Kime, public relations director for Enid, which is becoming known as a film-friendly city.
“There’s a word-of-mouth advertising that these crews get going, like, ‘We’re looking to do this and this and this,’ and one will say, ‘Well, in Enid they let us do this and this and this, and it was a great experience.’ ”
With “Wildlife,” city officials helped the filmmaking team with any number of requests to help create this 1960-set drama about a young boy watching his parents’ marriage fall apart, based on Richard Ford’s novel.
When looking for “just the right house,” officials drove them around town to see era-specific homes, where occasionally they would visit with a homeowner about the availability of their residence for a month or two of filming.
“We had several calls asking, ‘Is this for real?’ and I know it’s hard for people in a community to imagine their house might be in a movie,” Jarrett said.
When the need arose for mid-century cars, the Enid Antique Auto Club was the driving force, as they’ve helped with other Oklahoma-filmed productions across the state.
“We’re fortunate in Enid because on a pretty day, you will see some really beautiful old cars cruising around town, and people wonder where they’ve come from, but they are in garages all over town,” Jarrett said.
“It was kind of that ‘Leave it to Beaver’ identity that they were looking for” from the era, Kime said, and it took some brainstorming about locations in Enid and the Garfield County area to determine good filming sites.
“They were looking for an old bank that would look like a bank (built in) the 1930s,” Kime said. “Then it would be a house with columns. Then a farm house. A basketball gym like you might see in ‘Hoosiers.’ A church that’s white with steps and a steeple.
“It was kind of fun helping them find these things,” Kime said.
In addition to Enid, filming also took place in Wakita, Hennessey and other locations, and ultimately, almost 300 local jobs were created, with more than $2 million spent in Oklahoma directly impacting the state’s economy, the Oklahoma Film & Music Office reported.
Jarrett and others praised the state agency’s Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program, which allows a film to receive as much as 37 percent back on the money they spend in the state.
“Wildlife” is set in Montana, but the production filmed in Oklahoma because of its generous rebate percentage.
If that fact drives more filmmakers to Enid, that makes economic sense to Jarrett.
The late 2016 arrival of the “Wildlife” team was opportune timing considering the energy-downturn exit of oil and gas crews at that time from the area.
“It was about the time of Christmas shopping, and here comes this movie for two months — renting out 40 motel rooms, renting houses for crew and actors, eating in our restaurants, shopping with our merchants,” she said.
“That was a real shot in the arm for the community, and it was a real shot of pride. It made Enid proud of its own identity. They were moving their production out of the Oklahoma City area to Enid because they were able to find everything they wanted right here.
“We like it when people say good things about Enid.”