Film technicians Scott Morrison and Chandler Ferriss adjust the lighting on the set of “The Hollars” in Canton.
Film technicians Scott Morrison and Chandler Ferriss adjust the lighting on the set of “The Hollars” in
The cast and crew of feature film "The Hollars" set up camp on in Canton on Monday for the filming of two movie scenes.

Canton residents searched among bulky spotlights and hi-tech cameras for the Hollywood stars who would soon frequent their backyard.

Behind the scenes, the crew was already hard at work.

"We're here at the Trolio Hotel with our base camp," said location manager Brian Hilburn, who also worked on the sets of "My Dog Skip" and "Get on Up." Though he could not confirm the names of the actors on set that day (some say Richard Jenkins and John Krasinski), he did share many previously undisclosed details about the location choice.

"This is probably my fifth film to film here in Canton," Hilburn said. A resident of nearby Clinton, Hilburn had only positive things to say about the City of Lights.

He explained that the original draw was the Canton Municipal Utilities building located on the Canton Square. "It had the right look," Hilburn said, noting that it resembled an old bank. "We needed that for the script, so we chose Canton specifically for that."

In fact, the building is an old bank.

CMU is located in what was originally Canton Exchange Bank, a financial institution that was founded in 1880. In 1983, Canton Exchange Bank was acquired by Trustmark Bank and the building became a Trustmark Branch before it eventually became CMU headquarters in 2002.

From 6 a.m. to noon, Canton Municipal Utilities was transformed into a closed set. A second scene was filmed on U.S. 51 later in the day.

CMU General Manager John Wallace said the decision to film Monday was last-minute but they were able to prep on Sunday. He said they actually set up two different "sets" inside CMU's building for shooting and said "it's just amazing how you can transform an area into whatever you want."

"The Hollars" will tell the story of aspiring New York City artist John Hollar who returns to his hometown with a girlfriend in tow on the day preceding his mother's brain surgery.

Stars John Krasinski (The Office), Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect), Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under) and Margo Martindale (August: Osage County) will be featured in the film.

Jackson native Tom Rice is a producer of the film.

While their names may never appear in headlines, the staff who hit the ground running in preparation for filming are just as crucial to final success.

"Locations is supposed to be the first ones to show up and the last ones to leave," said Josh Hester, a production assistant. "I got up at 3:08 this morning. That's normal."

The hours are long and the Mississippi heat is stifling, but Hester and fellow production assistant Peter Kazery love their jobs. "This is a good group of actors," said Kazery, who describes "The Hollars" set as relatively small. "They'll relate to you."

The film has been described as a cross between "Steel Magnolias" and "Garden State" and is set to return to Canton for filming at a pond location next month.

"We'll be finished filming in the middle of August," said Hilburn, who leads a team of five assistants including Kazery and Hester. "We are going to go to Sundance with it in January, so hopefully people can look forward to seeing it either late spring or early summer."