Filming of Fox TV series ‘Prison Break’ in town lands some locals in upcoming episode, leaves others starstruck
By Lacie Morrison
It was lights, cameras and action in Mineral Wells Wednesday as a 20th Century Fox Television crew for the television show called “Prison Break” filmed a few scenes using local businesses and residents for an upcoming episode.
The television series, now in its second season, is about two brothers and six other inmates who escape from Fox River State Penitentiary with the aid of an intricate tattoo of the prison’s blueprints. According to www.fox.com, “the escape truly begins as the convicts race for their lives – and the [$5 million in] hidden cash – while trying to avoid capture by the authorities.”
Tyler Graham, assistant location manager with 20th Century Fox Television, explained, “This scene had a lot to do with the Brazos River.”
They generally stay within a 30-minute radius of Dallas for filming purposes, he explained. This being the case, he said the combination of the river and the town was perfect. He added that the Brazos is a river in every sense of the word with its high and low banks, width and it is off the beaten path.
The Dallas native said he knew about Mineral Wells because of his trips to Lake Possum Kingdom to a friend’s lake house.
“I was familiar with Mineral Wells … and we needed this town in the script,” said Graham. “It’s like a historic type of town.”
The film crew doesn’t have a lot of time between receiving a script and the beginning of filming to scout potential locations that fit their needs.
“We get the script two weeks before we actually shoot,” Graham said. “We had it all lined up [for Mineral Wells] in a little over a week.”
Graham came down and visited the town, taking hundreds of photographs of the area and brought Mineral Wells to the attention of the director.
“He like what he saw,” he said. With that, the decision was made to film here and the crew was brought down for three days.
Graham noted both the city and property owners of the various locations they needed were extremely helpful in accommodating them.
“The city manager, he’s been amazing. He helped us with road closures,” Graham said, adding that Shannon McGary, Mineral Wells Chamber of Commerce executive director, put him in contact with the community members he needed.
The settings the television crew shot Wednesday included Garrett Jewelry and Loan and the Western Auto, among other locations. Today and Friday, they will be filming on the Brazos River.
Local residents who were selected as extras woke early Wednesday morning to answer the 6:15 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. casting calls. While waiting together at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, nary a yawn was in sight from the approximately 20 extras. Several people said they barely slept Tuesday night despite the early casting call.
“I was excited,” said Jennifer Dillard. “I was like, how often am I going to have that chance [to be an extra]?”
Fellow extra Pam McQueary commented, “I don’t know what to think. This could be fun.”
The participants were instructed beforehand what colors they couldn’t wear – such as black or red – and to wear long sleeves and closed-toed shoes. Some extras, like McGary, were even asked for a description of their vehicles.
“The extras were all great,” Graham praised.
The episode is scheduled to air Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. on Fox and depict Mineral Wells as a small town in Arizona.
“Prison Break” may not be the only show Mineral Wells could be seen on. Graham said the photos he took of the area will become a portfolio of pictures with Fox.
“They’ll always be on record with them,” he said. “We want to come back if we can.”