Most local residents have heard about the legend of the Swamp Monster which allegedly lives in Ottine in and around Palmetto State Park.
Well, this past week, "Swampy," as he is affectionately known by the locals, may have headed for higher ground.
That's because a major motion picture featuring the legendary "Predator" characters was being filmed at the park. Even though Swampy has never been photographed, it's probably safe to assume he would be no match for the Predators.
Predators is the title of the new movie which was being partly filmed in Ottine. It's the fifth in the Predator series, according to Logan Cooper, the location manager for the film.
In previous movies, the series was about "Alien vs. Predator," but that is all changing.
"We are trying to get away from that," said Cooper.
The production of the movie is being coordinated by Troublemaker Studios of Austin.
Cooper said the bulk of the film was shot in Hawaii, but that there were "gaps" and they needed another location to complete the filming.
A resident of Austin, Cooper said he had heard about Palmetto State Park and so they sent "scouts" to Ottine to look over the place. Though Cooper said it's "hard to find something that looks like Hawaii" in south Texas, Palmetto State Park fit the bill.
They contacted Todd Imboden, park superintendent, about a month ago and made arrangements for the filming.
The group spent this entire week setting up for the filming, which took place all in one day. They filmed in the daytime and nighttime this past Wednesday.
According to Toni Atterbury, unit publicist for Predator Planet Films, Inc., following a month of shooting in Hawaii, production is underway in Texas on Predators. After beginning filming in the jungles of the Big Island, Hawaii, production has moved to Robert Rodriguez’s Austin-based facility, Troublemaker Studios. Shooting is also taking place at a variety of locations in and around Austin, including Ottine.
"Central Texas offers filmmakers a variety of extreme landscapes that are both striking and believable playing a location on an alien planet. Palmetto State Park near Gonzales is one of a handful of locations - such as McKinney Falls, Hamilton Pool and the Gorge location near Canyon Lake, that are being used to create the world of Predators," states Atterbury.
Imboden said he was amazed at just how many people were involved in the production and shooting.
There were so many trucks and people scattered around on Wednesday morning prior to the shooting, it was hard to even get down Park Road 11. Semis lined the tiny road in all directions. Workers scurried about with lights and sound equipment and just about everything you could imagine.
A "tube of death" was belching smoke across the already swamp-like landscape that is Palmetto State Park.
But access to the set and actors was almost impossible. According to various internet articles and blogs, this new Predators movie is supposed to be more like the original and has nothing to do with those nasty Aliens which were the focus for so long.
Nimr—d Antal, whose action-thriller “Armored” was recently released, is directing. Rodriguez and Elizabeth Avellˆn are the producers.
Predators stars Oscar¨-winner Adrien Brody (“The Pianist”), Topher Grace (“Spider-Man 3”), Alice Braga (“I Am Legend”) and Walton Goggins (“The Shield”). Also taking on key roles are Rodriguez as stalwart Danny Trejo, who just completed a starring role in Rodriguez’s “Machete,” plus UFC champion Oleg Taktarov (“National Treasure”), Mahershalalhashbaz Ali (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) and Louis Ozawa (“Fair Game”).
Predators, a bold new chapter in the Predator universe, stars Brody as Royce, a cold-blooded mercenary whose only allegiance is to those who pay him. He reluctantly leads a group of elite warriors who come to realize they’ve been brought together on an alien planet … as prey. With the notable exception of disgraced physician Edwin (Topher Grace), they are all stone killers - mercenaries, Yakuza, convicts, death squad members - human “predators” that are now being systemically hunted and eliminated by a new breed of alien Predators.
Predators will be in theaters everywhere July 7, 2010.
Cooper said because there is a date-specific release for the film, production deadlines were imperative at the Ottine location. In fact, he said that was the last of the outdoor filming for the movie. The rest is going to be shot in the studios in Austin.
Imboden had high praise for the production company, saying they were very aware of their environment and repaired any damages they may have caused. That even included fixing paths which were worn down by the production and repairing a grassy area where a large piece of equipment had ran off the road.
He said as part of the agreement, any damage caused will be repaired or the park will be reimbursed by the production company.
"Todd has been very helpful," said Cooper.
He said the company "loves" working in state parks in Texas because of all the cooperation. He also said it keeps production locally.
That has also infused money into the Gonzales County economy with nearly 300 people working for a full week on the set. That can be nothing but positive for this area.
But that is all in the past now. The lights have dimmed, the trucks are gone and now Ottine can get back to being the sleepy little village its residents so much enjoy.
And Swampy can come back home, though he may have nightmares about a Predator.