Filming ends with bang in Harmony
Fake post office set ablaze in scene
Eagle Staff Writer
Written by:
October 7, 2015
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Actor Ewan McGregor drives a car for a scene from the movie “American Pastoral” in Harmony. Camera equipment was attached to the hood and roof of the car for filming.

HARMONY — The final day of shooting a movie in the borough ended Friday with a bang.

The borough was the setting last week for work by Lakeshore Entertainment for its film “American Pastoral,” starring Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning.

Friday's filming in the downtown area included the controlled compression explosion involving a fake post office that was built for the film. The post office, which also serves as a gas station and a general store in the movie, took eight days to build on an empty gravel lot across from the fire station.

The explosives detonated about 6:30 p.m. Friday. Air compressors and a few flame bars were used in the explosion, breaking the glass windows. Water was sprayed around the building before filming to prevent accidental fire.

Another scene with a local actor walking into the store was shot before that.

The post office, called “Hamlins” had makeup work done to it last Monday for a post explosion look. For last week's filming, the building was reverted back to a “clean” appearance.

The borough volunteer fire department was on hand Friday for safety.

“They're well prepared,” Fire Chief Neal Nanna said of the film crew. “They spent a lot of money. It's very good for the area.”

Main Street and Mercer Road were closed for all three days of shooting, with about five crossing guards controlling traffic flow. Street signs were taken down to create the illusion of another town.

Some of the movie takes place in a fictional New Jersey town called Old Rimrock.

Harmony Mayor Cathy Rape said while filming was “very nice,” there were some difficulties with traffic.

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Smoke and flames are seen during filming of an explosion Friday at a fake post office built in Harmony for the movie “American Pastoral.”

She said some school buses on Monday morning were unaware of the filming and they had to take detours around town, delaying their schedule.

Rape also said scheduling with film crews could be hard to pinpoint.

“The times changed hourly for what they (film crew) wanted to do or what they would use,” she said.

Along with that, there were concerns that the weekend flea market would have problems setting up in the Harmony Museum. The flea market takes place each year in the museum where film crews set up base camp for the week.

However, the borough was able to work with the film crew to organize setup for the flea market.

“It taught us about better communication,” Rape said.

The week's work of filming was supposed to have been done by Wednesday. However, rain on Monday delayed shooting and work was postponed to Thursday and Friday.

On Friday evening McGregor, who also is directing the movie, thanked spectators for letting him and the film crew use the borough.

By the weekend, the rubble was cleaned up and the film crew were gone from the borough. McGregor and company will be in downtown Pittsburgh later this month to shoot more scenes.

McGregor was in town for all three days of shooting. Connelly and Fanning were also in town for their scenes.

The movie is based on the 1997 Philip Roth novel of the same name that won a Pulitzer Prize.

“American Pastoral” is scheduled to be released in 2016.