Ever sit with a bowl of popcorn watching your favorite movie for the umpteenth time and wonder,”Where did they shoot that scene?” or,”Where did they find that building?”
Well, over the weekend those questions and more were answered for movie fans of the “Shawshank Redemption.”
As part of the 20 year reunion celebrating the filming of “Shawshank Redemption,” the Mansfield & Richland County Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsored the Shawshank Trail , a self-guided tour. The trail highlights fourteen sites where actual scenes of the movie were filmed. Movie fans and history buffs could enjoy following the Hollywood trail as they travel across Mansfield, Ashland and Upper Sandusky.
The site of the opening scene of the film is located just off the beaten path, down a dirt road to be exact. The road leads to Pugh Cabin, nestled in the woods of Malabar Farm State Park. A short downhill walk from the cabin led to a view of what life was like on the inside, doing time at Shawshank State Prison.
“We became very much like the prisoners we were playing,” said Mark Sebastian Jordan, manager of Hostelling International on Bromfield Road at Malabar Farm State Park.
Playwright, actor and storyteller, Jordan shared his experience as an extra on the film with those following the Shawshank Trail. He recalled interactions with lead actors, Morgan Freeman who played Red and Timothy Robbins who portrayed lead character Andy. Jordan spent five weeks as an extra and can be seen in many of the prison yard and mess hall scenes.
Jordan shared stories and secrets of film making--like how many times the “sounds” associated with any particular shot was actually put in after a scene was shot. Though the experience was interesting and exciting at times, Jordan said that he and other extras often waited hours and hours for the right light or moment to shoot a scene.
There were strict rules because the movie was a “period” piece set in the 1930s. Everyone involved had to pay strict attention not to bring things in or around the set that may accidentally end up on film such as cell phones, watches or anything that did not fit in the time period.
“We became experts of contraband,”said Jordan referring to himself and other extras trying to smuggle modern luxuries onto the set to help pass the time when they weren't in a scene.
The trail included places and historical buildings in and around Richland County giving movie fans a personal connection to Hollywood. The tour encouraged those interested in participating to visit sights and 'feel' the moments portrayed in key scenes.
Other noted stops on the Shawshank Trail map included the Bissman Building where the character Brooks hung himself after being paroled; Carrousel Antiques on Main Street, site of the pawn shop window scene; Central Park where Brooks fed the pigeons on a park bench; and the Renaissance Theater on Park Avenue, Mansfield where the film premiered September 13, 1994. Snyder Road and Hagerman Road in Bellville, and Hagerman Road and State Route 95 both are noted on the map.
The 'Shawshank Oak Tree' located on Pleasant Valley Road sits on private property and draws fans and tourists alike. The tree was badly damaged by straight line winds in 2011 but can be viewed and photographed from across the road.
Huntington National Bank on Main Street, Mansfield and Revivals 2 Thrift Store, Ashland, Wyandot County Courthouse, site of Andy's trial and the Shawshank Woodshop, site of the prison woodshop round out the trail.
The Ohio State Reformatory located at 100 Reformatory Road, site of most of the prison scenes became home to Jordan as he served his five week sentence as a Shawshank extra.
Jordan described the day he received news of his “release,” stating that the phone rang and those fateful words could be heard echoed on the other line, “Good news, you've been paroled,” said Jordan.