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Filming at Saxon Village

The fun and excitement of the lights, camera, action have made their way back to the 573 via the people of Perryville. Motion Dog Films has begun production on their latest feature, The Spring, and has found the perfect location to take viewers back to the 1800s.

So why shoot feature films in Perryville?

Well, because Perryville wants low-budget films to be produced there—Film Friendly Perryville. Yes, Perryville is now providing services and resourcing to help indie filmmaking get their movies made. They have a production website that features various available shooting locations and lots of other support to attract producers looking to make their films look richer.

“Right from the start, they helped set up casting calls and helped find and secure locations. To put it bluntly, they have been a great partner to us.

Both scenes set in 1870 Missouri turned out beautifully.

The first few scenes were filmed with local actors we developed for their roles. Abigail & Bella Stelling, Dylan Jerret, and Jack Buerck; are all locals with no film experience that we rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed until they were set for shooting. Both scenes set in 1870 Missouri turned out beautifully.” - Production Team, Motion Dog Films

This 573 Magazine Story is sponsored by Workspace co-working office space in Farmington, Missouri.


I grew up wanting to be an actress, and I would always look at ways to be one or find places I could possibly go one day to become one. So when I saw this opportunity, I wanted to take the chance to do it. We watched videos to get an idea of what to do, and I practiced.

The location was nice just because it was cool to be filming and being near family still, and I liked being able to work outside instead of having to do everything inside.

I had a lot of fun with the filming, with being able to laugh and talk with the crew working and just having my sister there to talk to also. So I would have to say that being around everyone there and being able to talk to everyone was my favorite part of it. It was a good experience for me and I had a lot of fun with it.


I prepared for my role by wanting to do it and putting in the work by practicing my lines over and over and over again until I could finally get it down without messing it up.

The location was awesome. It was very pretty and it was very peaceful just on the open land. The experience was pretty fun. We got to ride a mule, and acting out my lines was also very fun.

My favorite part of the experience was riding the mule over and over again because sometimes she would start running off, so that was fun and eventful.


Filming The Spring was a very unique experience. Thomas Smugala was a huge help on set and very patient with Dylan and me.

I did many things to prepare for my role. First, I started by growing my hair out for almost 8 months! Then I read some letters written by actual soldiers in the civil war to understand what they were feeling. AJ scheduled rehearsal times so that Dylan and I had a chance to run lines.

There was a lot of work that was put into this scene...

The set was put together beautifully. The trench AJ put together was very realistic and true to pictures of the civil war I had seen in history books. Filming this movie piqued my interest in filmography. There was a lot of work that was put into this scene and I’m so excited to see how it turns out.

My favorite part of this experience is probably getting to see how movies are made. I also had never realized how much work went into recording a movie scene.

The latest scenes were filmed at the historical Fenwick Cabin at Saxon Lutheran Memorial Village with local actors Amanda Carpenter, Christian Simpson, and Izzy Foster. They all had a little acting experience, so there wasn't as much rehearsing needed.


Amanda Carpenter is a devout christian, hard worker, and local actor from Cape Girardeau. She is known for her performances in several local theater productions and her role as Officer Candy in the feature film Interviewing Monsters and Bigfoot. In her latest feature film adventure, The Spring, Amanda has been cast as Sarah, an illegal kitchen slave in the 1870’s.

God blessed me with the gift of acting and the opportunity to use this gift. Filming at the Saxon Village was a real eye-opening experience. To see how they used to live back then and to stand outside the old slave quarters was truly amazing. I appreciate the authenticity of the sets and the Motion Dog Films crew's professionalism and organization.


Christian Simpson is a young local artist, actor, and music producer. After working with Motion Dog Films on their thriller/dark comedy, 2 Heads, he was asked to return to the Motion Dog set to be a stand-in for The Spring’s Major Gould, a union officer investigating illegal slavery and a string of murders in post civil war Missouri.

Filming in Saxon Village was a great experience as there was much to see and learn! I got into film when I was 16, and I used to do my own skits independently with a good friend. I was introduced to AJ Koehler, a writer and producer for Motion Dog Films, when I was around 18 years of age, and then soon after, I was introduced to Tom when they included me in their projects. Working by their side has taught me a lot and has been a great experience for me as an actor and an artist. They are great at what they do and create a comfortable and safe environment for their cast and crew.


Izzy Foster is a young local artist and actor. An outgoing senior in highschool, Izzy is involved in multiple outlets for her artistic, athletic, and academic expressions including marching band, attending CTC for graphic design, and working toward achieving Eagle Scout. A good fit for the performance and physical challenges of the role, Izzy has been cast as Lacy, an illegal slave in 1870 who happens to be from the future.

My experience at Saxon Village was very interesting. Saxon Lutheran Memorial Village is historical and it was cool to act on set there. I was interested in film because my mom had gotten involved in it before me. Motion Dog Films was very professional and provided me with everything I needed.

Saxon is truly an amazing place! Full of history and beauty, it really is an awesome filming location. Perry County is full of awesome locations! Other locations for filming The Spring include The Faherty House, The Perry County Genealogical Research Library & Archives Center, Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship Facility, and multiple private properties in and around Perryville.

“The locations we’ve been filming in are breathtaking. We’ve captured some outstanding performances from the local talent that we’ve cast, and the beautiful locations have really added to it all. The scenes we’ve completed so far are both compelling and visually stunning. We can’t wait to share them with the community during our special sneak peek at the upcoming 573 film festival…” - Production Team, Motion Dog Films

That’s right! Motion Dog Films will be special guests at the 573 Film Festival and will be giving a sneak peek screening of selected scenes from The Spring. The 573 Film Festival will be going on October 14th & 15th and it’s a FREE event you won’t want to miss. Along with getting a small taste of The Spring movie, you can view multiple award winning short films, hear some groovy guest speakers from the filmmaking industry, and enjoy Q & As with the actors and filmmakers of some of the screened films.

The 573 Film Festival is a sponsor funded, FREE to attend and participate, community event. Sponsored by generous local businesses, The City of Perryville, Perry County Tourism, Arts Council of Southeast Missouri and 573 Magazine.

There will be guest speakers, tons of short films from all over the world and a special kids film workshop. At the 573 Kids Film Workshop your child will learn to act, direct, light a scene, dress a set, follow a script, and collaborate with a team to create short film. They will get to experience what it’s like to work on a film set. But the most excitement comes the following weekend. On October 23rd there will be a special Red Carpet Event at the Perry Park Center Theater for all of the workshop films. The young filmmakers and future stars will get to see the fruits of their labor on the big screen.

Want to know the best part…IT’S FREE!

Interested in becoming a volunteer? Call AJ at (573) 760-4849.

If you'd like to make your movie in a film friendly environment, contact Trish at (573) 517-2069 or CLICK HERE to visit

There’s so many exciting things happening in the 573. Don’t let them pass you by while you deepen the rut of your sunken sofa…


words by aj koehler

pics by t. smugala

Be sure to visit all of our awesome sponsors who make these stories possible!


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