Northeast Wisconsin plays major role in upcoming movie

Northeast Wisconsin plays major role in upcoming movie. (Jared Harrington/WLUK)

Northeast Wisconsin will soon be on the big screen.

A local filmmaker is using Neenah, Appleton and Menasha as scenes for his independent movie calledThe Wraith.

"I love the title Wraith because it is a ghost or a spirit shortly after or just before its death," said director Michael Sajbel.

Sajbel said the idea for the movie came one day when a woman told him her house had a ghost in it.

"I said, a ghost? What do I need to make a ghost story? I need a couple of guys, a camera, and an old house, and a ghost," said Sajbel.

Sajbel, an Appleton East High School graduate, moved back to the Fox Valley from Hollywood about nine years ago. The whole time he's been making movies, but this is the first to be filmed where he lives.

"This film is completely indigenous to Neenah. It has to do with the old homes on East Wisconsin Avenue, Lakeshore Drive and Forest Avenue," Sajbel explained.

On Sunday,the crew was shooting a scene in the Neenah Public Library. It was a scene where the owner of the haunted house goes to the library to find out information about the people who lived in the home first.

That's where we find actress Jensen Buchanan.

"I'm sort of the historian in the movie, you know, telling a lot about the town's history and things like that," said Buchanan. "(Sajbel) thought it would be fun to have someone who is from here playing that part."

Buchanan is best known for her roles on soap operas One Life to Live and The Young and the Restless. She also grew up in Neenah.

"It has been fun being in my hometown and I'm proud of it being the starring role in this movie," Buchanan added.

"I think it is just fantastic because we have such a rich history in Neenah," said Jane Lang with the Neenah Historical Society.

Lang has been working closely with the crew to provide artifacts for some scenes.

"We have some interesting and somewhat creepy artifacts related to Neenah's history, so things like rocking horses or things you might find somewhere in an old attic," said Lang.

Sajbel explained that, in other states, film crews receive incentives for shooting a movie there. He said that wasn't case here.

"I said, 'I'm happy to be here, I'm not asking you to pay me anything, just don't charge me anything.'"

Sajbel added when the movie is finished he plans on showing it in Wisconsin first.

It is expected to be finished and hit screens early next year.

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