CARBONDALE, IL (WSIL) -- A new film will soon bring southern Illinois to a nationwide audience.
I Used to Go Here is the newest film from SIU alum Kris Rey.
The film centers around a writer, played by Gillian Jacobs, who returns to her alma mater to speak to students about her experiences.
Rey, who was a student at SIU's Department of Cinema and Photography from 1999 to 2003, says the story is personal. "The whole movie was inspired by a period in my life where my last feature, Unexpected, had just played Sundance, and I got invited to screen the movie at a handful of universities, one of which was Southern, so I got the opportunity to go back to my alma mater," said Rey.
Rey, who now calls Chicago home, visited Carbondale last year to scout locations for the film but found it wasn't exactly the place she remembered.
"So I came down to Carbondale to scout for the movie, and I initially wanted to shoot the whole movie down there. I was so shocked that the student population had dropped so much, and that the town, which had always been small, felt so empty, and the vibrancy that I remembered from being a student there, wasn't there, and it made me sad honestly. I really miss the Carbondale that was, and it's been sad to watch it kind of empty out," she said.
Some establishing shots for the movie were filmed in Carbondale, including the SIU campus and Longbranch Cafe & Bakery. The rest were shot in Chicago, where Rey tried to replicate certain aspects of southern Illinois.
But she says, there were some she couldn't recreate. "The big one I wasn't able to replicate was the Spillway. We ended up having to shoot a lake, and so we subbed in the movie, 'we're gonna go to the lake.' But when I was a student everyone went to the spillway," she said.
Rey says heavy rains and the sound of roaring water made the Spillway unusable for the film. But she still wanted to capture the spirit of the location, and the spirit of southern Illinois. "I wanted to replicate the tone of this remote area that feels like there's really no rules, there's no one watching, there's no life guards. You drive up with your friends and bring some beer and hang out all day...That was a big part of my nostalgia for Carbondale," Rey said.