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MATTOON — A film crew has been gathering final footage this week for the Mattoon-based thriller, “Rag Doll,” a newly disclosed title that references a local legend.

Co-producer Joe Lucarelli, who is a former Mattoon resident, and his crew filmed at Bethel Cemetery, the setting of this legend. According to this lore, the cemetery just south of Coles County Memorial Airport is supposed to be haunted by a rag doll that is out for vengeance against whoever murdered the girl who owned it.

Audio director Brian Keegan said the legend of the cemetery’s vengeful rag doll plays a part in this independent film, which has elements of mystery and drama to it.

“There is a connection, but I would not call this a horror film by any means,” Lucarelli said.

Most other details of the plot for the “Rag Doll” film are being kept under wraps for the time being. Lucarelli, who now resides in Pittsburgh, said they hope to have a “rough edit” of the film completed soon for their visual effects coordinator to work on during the early summer.

Lucarelli said they plan to apply in early August to submit the finished product to the Sundance Film Festival, where they would  seek a distributor. He said they will take “Rag Doll” to other film festivals if needed.

They intend to hold a public premiere in Coles County for “Rag Doll” after the January 2011 Sundance Film Festival, Lucarelli said.

Director and editor Michael Savisky estimated 80 percent of “Rag Doll” was filmed in the Mattoon area and most of the remainder was filmed in Pittsburgh, including scenes set in a hospital wing that is more than 100 years old.

Savisky, a Pittsburgh resident, said he found there is a lot of character to Mattoon, a lot of interesting family owned businesses, and a lot of different kinds of people.

Footage was filmed at the Alamo Steak House, Cody’s Road House, and other local locations. Keegan said they spent approximately six hours at Common Grounds filming the longest single scene in “Rag Doll.”

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The production included actors and crew members that Lucarelli brought with him, as well as some recruited from the area. Tyson Kroening, an Eastern Illinois University junior from Mattoon, worked as assistant director on the film and played a dead body.

Kroening said working on a film production in his hometown has been a dream come true for him, adding that he is majoring in electronic media production with a minor in film. The student said he wants to work in the film industry after he graduates and he hopes to partner with Lucarelli, Keegan, and Savisky again.

“I have had such a good experience from being here (in Mattoon). It has really been a lot of fun and everyone has been so cooperative,” Keegan said.


Contact Rob Stroud at or 238-6861.

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