- Editor's note: Munger Road has gone from very local, St. Charles "suburban legend" to major motion picture, and will premiere at . Here's a re-run of a story that ran on about a year ago, as shooting of the movie was just wrapping up.
The making of Munger Road came just in time for the Smith family. Without it, they'd be empty nesters.
Just as the they were sending their youngest off to college, their son Nick Smith started filming his first feature film.
It's all about roots on this set. Nick Smith has returned to his hometown to make a thriller inspired by a St. Charles urban legend. The movie takes place the night before the Scarecrow Festival and, as fate would have it, a group of teens pick the wrong night to go explore Munger Road.
"I've known about Munger Road for as long as I've been driving," Nick Smith said.
This infamous "road" is actually a stretch of Stearns Road near Powis Road. For years, St. Charles teens have stopped on the abandoned train tracks in hopes of finding a ghost by using baby powder.
The help of Smith's family has made this movie possible. Jeff Smith is Nick's dad and the executive producer. He allows four guys working on the film to sleep on the extra beds in his house, while his wife prepares lunches every day for the working cast and crew.
"From day one, I knew we had something," Jeff Smith said.
It's all about the script, he said.
"That's how we drew everyone in."
The cast and crew is made up of people from Los Angeles and Chicago. The production has about one week of filming left. Kyle Heller, a producer from Los Angeles, said "Munger Road" has a story to which everyone can relate.
Children grow up with an urban myth no matter where they come from, Heller said.
"Everyone has their 'road,' " he said.
Nick Smith said there are actually a few tales surrounding Munger Road. There's the one about the little girl who was killed on the train tracks and doesn't want anyone who stops on the tracks to get hit by a train. If a driver puts baby powder on the back end of the car and puts the vehicle in neutral on the tracks, the little girl will push the car off the tracks and the driver will be able to see the lingering hand prints in the baby powder. And then there's the one about the farm that used to be near the tracks where an old farmer still haunts to this very day.
But Nick Smith said the movie is more a thriller than a ghost story. He's always appreciated the simplistic ghost stories told around a campfire.
Jeff Smith said his son wasn't always a storyteller. When he was little, Nick wanted to build roller coasters. Perhaps, now, the moviemaker has found a different way to share twists and turns.
Jeff Smith waited until the script for the thriller was just right before giving the project the green light. He is financing the film, which has become a family affair. Jeff Smith said having his son back for a little while has been a good transition for him and his wife before the empty-nester stage comes.
When it's time for the movie to wrap up later this week, Jeff Smith doesn't know what they're going to do.
"We'll just have to start the sequel," he said.