The crew of Public Enemies is busy preparing various locations inside the Wisconsin Capitol building for shoot that that begins Friday evening and will run overnight into early Saturday morning. The center of the action will be the North Hearing Room, which has been made over into the set of a congressional hearing room in Washington, D.C. By early Friday afternoon, the interior of the room had already been transformed, as production crew kept busy unloading and setting up lighting equipment.
Public Enemies is a big-budget period feature directed by UW alumnus Michael Mann, and has been shooting around Wisconsin this spring. While most of the attention has focused on the film's lead character John Dillinger, and the infamous gangster's portrayal by Johnny Depp, the story also focuses on the law enforcement efforts to quell the Depression-era crime wave through the formation of the FBI.
Specifically, two primary characters in the film are the FBI agent Melvin Purvis, played by Christian Bale, and the then-young agency director J. Edgar Hoover, who is being portrayed by Billy Crudup. Though the production does not confirm which actors will be present at a shoot per standard policy, it is possible that one or both may be working overnight, as the Capitol shoots will be focusing on the early days of the FBI.
Persons hoping to catch a glimpse of any actors, or simply the production in general, are not likely to find much luck, though, as the shoot will commence after the Capitol building closes for the weekend. On Thursday, the Wisconsin Department of Administration sent a memo to all Capitol employees informing them of the shoot and requesting their cooperation
The memo reads:
Subject: Quiet corridors 5/3 after 6 pm
As many of you are aware "Public Enemy" is doing some filming in the Capitol (in and around the North Hearing Room.) They are beginning setup today and tomorrow. Filming will start at 6 pm Friday, May 2nd and will continue until 7 am Saturday, May 3rd. The reason for this timetable is that there is a need for quiet while they are filming. As a Capitol employees your access to the building is not restricted. If you are here after 6 pm on Friday, please be mindful of the request for quiet in the Capitol corridors. PE Productions and the Capitol Police would appreciate office doors being closed and conversations outside your offices being kept to a minimum during this time. Thank you for your assistance.
The Capitol was already buzzing early Friday afternoon, though. Trucks parked on the East Washington Avenue driveway of the building were being unloaded, with a steady stream of lighting and electrical equipment being brought inside. The marble floors around the entrance and the hallways of the North Hearing Room were padded with cardboard, meanwhile, in order to ensure that there would be no damage as equipment was set in place.
Signs attached to the walls around the North Hearing Room also attested to the impending shoot, with directions to bathrooms, craft services, and the extras holding area posted. One sign at the door of the room declared, "Hot Set," while the interior unmistakably gave an aura of an old-school hearing room. Thick-stuffed leather chairs were placed throughout, and the main bench facing the doorway already bore the a row of nameplates -- presumably those of the Congressmen who would be questioning Hoover about the early efforts of the FBI.
The best bet to catch a glimpse of the production, or at least its tail end with sleepy crew and extras departing the Capitol, may be at the start of the Dane County Farmers' Market early Saturday morning.
A second day of shooting in Madison, this time outside of the Capitol, is slated for Monday, May 5. The locations for these shoots are scheduled for the sidewalks and stairways outside of the building at its State Street and Wisconsin Avenue entrances, scenes that will allow for observers take a look at the show, at least from a vantage point on the Capitol Square.