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Film crew goes back in time at Snoqualmie Railway Depot, Tollgate Farm | Slideshow
"Who would hang an umbrella on a hat rack?" a set dresser grumbles as she shifts the collection of umbrellas and old-fashioned hats hanging in the entry of the Northwest Railway Museum depot in Snoqualmie.
She's talking to herself, as she fusses with suitcases and furnishings in the depot, and there seems to be a lot of that going around Wednesday morning in Snoqualmie, as headset-wearing, clipboard-carrying creative types bustle around the depot and, kitty-corner across Railroad Avenue, an empty lot now overflowing with trailers and cars.
A film crew has set up camp in Snoqualmie, for two days of shooting an independent film called "You Can't Win." The movie, based on the book with the same name, will star Michael Pitt, of Boardwalk Empire, and follows the story of author, hobo and criminal Jack Black, from about 1880 to 1920. The film also relies heavily on trains, which is how the crew ended up in Snoqualmie, renting rail cars and the depot building for a setting.
"It's logistically very difficult to film on trains," said movie co-producer Matt Parker. "Finding these guys was hugely invaluable."
Museum staff started working with Dave Drummond, a location scout for the movie, several months ago, and negotiated two days of filming at several of the museum's attractions.
"They'll be on moving cars, they'll be in our train shed, it's been set up as a studio," explained museum executive director Richard Anderson.
Wednesday, they were transforming the museum's depot, from the offices of museum staff, back into the train ticket office it used to be. Out in front, an old steam engine put out fake smoke, getting ready for its close-up.
"We made them (this) train, with what they wanted on it," said Sue Van Gerpen, marketing manager for the museum. "There's a steam engine, there are freight cars, there's a rail car, there's a lumber car…"
The car interiors will be used, too, and Van Gerpen said the crew has been very professional and gracious about adhering to the museum's requirements for preserving the historical value of the cars -- a real considering the role some of the cars will play in the film.
"We're going to have a lot of exciting scenes, that we're not allowed to disclose to you," Anderson said.
The movie, directed by Robinson Devor of Seattle, has scenes all over the state, including Snohomish, Tacoma's old City Hall, Seattle's Chinatown, Mount Rainier, Port Townsend, and Butte, Mont. Closer to home, the film crew moves to the Tollgate Farm for filming on Friday, and has already filmed parts of the movie on a clear-cut hillside north of Snoqualmie.
"You Can't Win" will be in filming through mid-June, Parker said, and he expects a lengthy post-production process. He said it would likely debut at a festival in 2013, with a wider release after that.
"We always hope for a huge national release," he said. "We think it's going to be a good movie."