SAVANNA – A crime thriller with story roots running deep in Illinois – and scenes shot in Carroll and Jo Daviess counties – premiered Friday in Hollywood.
“High on the Hog” was filmed in August and September 2012 at the Iron Horse Social Club in Savanna and the Savanna Police Department, among other sites, according to the movie’s website.
The R-rated grindhouse film stars Sid Haig as Big Daddy, the head of a family of hog farmers who grow marijuana in the town of Council Hill and are trying to stay ahead of a “DTA” government agency crackdown.
Writer and executive producer Kevin Lockhart drew on his own childhood experiences in Greenview, a small farm town in central Illinois.
“I grew up on a pig farm for about 12 years, and my grandpa lived on it,” Lockhart said. “I grew up in the ‘70s, saw a lot of the corporate farming taking over the small farmers ... where I grew up, some people grew weed on the side to make ends meet.”
Lockhart said he is a “big” proponent of medical legalization of marijuana, having seen marijuana help friends of his parents with chemotherapy’s side effects.
“I think Illinois will face this (legalization) in the next year or so, and a lot of other states have gone through it. I think we’re seeing benefits. The stigma’s gone, or starting to go,” Lockhart said.
He returned to Illinois to look for filming locations. He had spent time in the Galena area, and met Bob Farster, a filmmaker since 2002 in the Elizabeth area.
“He showed us his property and how beautiful it was. I knew we had our location,” Lockhart said.
Farster, originally from Dixon, broke into the business when he met the late actor Bobby Zar at a bar in Chicago.
“They were filming the next day in Chicago. I was in a scene with Joe Estevez, chopping a guy’s hand off. All of a sudden, people were calling me left and right,” Farster said.
For “High on the Hog,” Farster was another executive producer, and found locations, food, hotels, and other organizational necessities.
“I got two small parts in the movie, too. The first one, I was the father to Sid Haig in a flashback, and in the second, I was a hippie,” Farster said.
About 75 extras from Carroll and Jo Daviess counties took part, with many of them in a pig roast scene near the end of the film.
The film’s first edit was completed in 2014, but Lockhart didn’t like it.
“The concern was, it wasn’t a drama, a comedy or horror – it was a combination of everything. I kind of said let’s hold off for a little bit. A director, cinematographer and I worked with a new editor, who had some new ideas,” Lockhart said.
The filmmakers shot some new scenes in summer 2016, and post-production was completed last summer.
“High on the Hog” is available for purchase and rental through Vudu.