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By MICHAEL BOYD JR.
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
For the second time since June, a film production company visited Ste. Genevieve for a project downtown.
Drive Social Media of St. Louis sent a production crew to film a commercial recently, which required taking over Merchant Street during the morning hours so not to disrupt local businesses located between Second and Third streets prior to opening for business for the day.
The commercial was for a St. Louis-based footwear company know as Saltwater Sandals, which has been making and selling sandals made of high-quality, water-resistant leather for fashion-forward people of all ages around the world since World War II. The classic sandals are popular and are crafted to wear for sand, sea and shore.
“(Saltwater Sandals) is a St. Louis-based company that has been around since 1944,” said Doug Wicker, Associate Director of Photography and Videography at Drive Social Media. “We are covering the generations of their brand, how many lives it’s touched over the course of their inception.”
Wicker is from Farmington and also has his own private film company, so he knows all about Ste. Genevieve since he has visited here “a lot of times” and shooting a commercial here was the perfect location.
“We chose Ste. Genevieve as a location because we needed a historic downtown or historic St. Louis style location that still had the integrity without a lot of changes done, kind of preserved, almost like a time capsule,” Wicker said. “And when I was researching old historic St. Louis from the 1940s, I thought that it looks very similar to Ste. Genevieve.”
Wicker and his cinematographer visited Ste. Genevieve and were welcomed with open arms to set up and begin production.
“I sent my cinematographer down and we both scouted the location, walked through it,” Wicker said. “We were welcomed with open arms to check out the space and the city. We were happy the mayor (Brian Keim) was really, really cool to work with and get everything set up. And yeah, just really wonderful people, just really inviting, really easy. We came to shoot down here and everything’s been smooth, it’s been wonderful.”
The nostalgic sandal commercial was easy filming of a young, middle school-aged girl on a bicycle in the 1940s riding down the Merchant Street several times over until Wicker and his crew felt they had the perfect take.
The actress was Elise Reiter of Farmington, making her debut in the acting business, who hopes for more opportunities in her career.
During breaks, Reiter was attended to by Kari Harbour, a makeup artist, hair stylist and wardrobe specialist, also out of Farmington.
Also in attendance was Reiter’s father, as well as Eric “Ric” Gebel, owner of Saltwater Sandals.
Gebel, pronounced Gable, also has visited Ste. Genevieve several times and loved Wicker’s pick of Downtown Ste. Genevieve for the commercial’s location.
Although Gebel and Wicker are looking for the 1940s-era look, they hope today’s way of advertising, some 80 years since then end of WWII, will bring folks to liking the brand and the film.
“We’ve been in business since ’44, so we need to do commercials, with different snippets, with the old-time feel,” Gebel said. “It’s for Facebook, stuff like that. When you click on Saltwater Sandals and you’re on Facebook or whatever, all of a sudden these ads are going to start coming up. So, it’ll run these ads. These guys (Drive Social Media) are putting together a 30-second commercial. And in a town that’s close to St. Louis, I mean, this is all local for us. We are right next to the hill in St. Louis. So people from here can go there. We’ve been in St. Louis since 1944, and we’ve been at the hill location since 1979.”
For those who want to see the sandals from home may visit online at www.saltwater-sandals.com and view the vast variety of sandals and slides.
FIRST FILM COMPANY
In early June, an award-winning film production company from New York City visited Ste. Genevieve to film a documentary on the murder trial of Josh Keezer, who’s historic case was tried at the Ste. Genevieve County Courthouse by a local jury.
Bungalow Media + Entertainment, with numerous documentaries and film credits, was filming the courthouse downtown as it will feature Keezer’s trial where he was convicted of murdering a popular teenage college student, Angela Mischelle Lawless, in 1992. A judge overturned that verdict 15 years later to set Keezer free from prison, meaning Lawless’ murderer is still out there somewhere 31 years now.
Lawless was a Southeast Missouri State University student and graduate of Kelly High in Benton, where she was found murdered in her vehicle just a few miles from home.
One Scott County Sheriff’s department gathered enough evidence to convict Keezer, then the following sheriff got enough evidence to set him free due to numerous mistakes from the previous sheriff.
The details before, during and after Keezer’s trial are seriously too long to detail here — check out the June 14 edition of the Herald.