Eastern State Penitentiary

   Okay, okay, so we took more than one photo… and technically I guess you could say it was 19 hours total for the entire roundtrip… however you want to cut it, we went a long way out of our way to get an image (not the image above, to be clear).  What in the world for?  Let me explain.

   In working through the plot of Picture Me, Loving You, Chris and I realized that we were going to need a jail scene (I'll leave it at that as to not spoil anything).  I had previously seen pictures from the inside of Eastern State Penitentiary, and so I had a rough idea of what I wanted… Pennsylvania is a long way away though, so we started looking around our area. Turns out a group has been trying to buy the old Brushy Mountain State Pen. (or has already… who knows) to turn it into a bit of a tourist attraction, but after multiple attempts, I wasn't able to get anyone to reply to my inquires.  No luck there.  The Tennessee State Prison, located in Nashville, now allows film crews to come in and shoot there (The Green Mile, among others, have been shot there), but the cost was outrageous and there were way too many hoops to jump through.  Again, no dice.  We also found an old jail in Kentucky that you can shoot in, but the place has been totally restored and didn't fit the look we were after.  Lead after lead went cold until I finally just decided to reach out to Eastern State Pen, and man, they couldn't have been easier to work with!  They had the look we were going for anyway, and after a brief discussion with Chris, we just decided to go for it!  Eastern State is setup to allow people to rent the entire place after business hours, so we just booked 2 hours and had the place all to ourselves with two guides.  Pretty amazing actually.

   Chris has family near Philadelphia and Holly has been wanting to go to Amish country for a while, so all of us just decided to make a little mini-vacation out of it.  Holly and I were able to see the sites around Philadelphia, Lancaster County, and Gettysburg, and Chris and his wife Bahar got to spend some time with Chris' sister and brother-in-law.  I'm betting I'll end up doing a Picture of the Week series on Eastern State Pen, and perhaps Gettysburg as well, so to say that we drove all that way just for the one picture isn't entirely true… but it was most definitely the motivation behind it all!

  So after all that, did we get the shot?  THAT, is something you'll just have to wait and see for yourself.

–Dan Thompson