DECEMBER 22, 2003 "The Village", the first period movie by Philadelphia writer/director M. Night Shyamalan ("Sixth Sense", "Unbreakable", "Signs") finished filming this week at its location in a field off Cossart Road in Chadds Ford, a narrow, windy road that cuts through a rural section of Pennsbury Township, PA. According to Wikipedia, "The road and surrounding area have been the subject to many urban legends throughout the years, ranging from satanic cults, demonic appearances, secret security and the Dupont family. The stories of Cossart Road have been featured in many publications. It is the lead story of the book, 'Weird Pennsylvania'."
The field where filming took place is owned by H. G. Haskell (Hill Girt Farm and SIW Vegetables which provides the giant pumpkins for the Chadd Ford Historical Society's annual Great Pumpkin Carve). It had been in used as a film set since mid October when the movie was title "The Woods".
We drove past the entrance to the set once, at night, to avoid the crunch on Rt. 52. We were surprised to see flood lights illuminating the field. Our sources later told us that much of the filming was done at night, starting after 4 PM. The cast and crew would work through the night, returning to their rooms at about 7AM.
The Chadds Ford field was selected by Shyamalan after searching unsuccessfully for a suitable location in Bucks County. The Brandywine Valley was chosen for its unspoiled countryside and tangled woods both of which are important characters in the movie judging from the movie trailer which we found online on Dec. 21. It was pulled off the Web on Dec. 22.
The movie is set in Pennsylvania during 1897, and revolves around a close-knit community that lives with the frightening knowledge that a mythical race of creatures resides in the woods around them. This may be Shyamalan's first period piece, (costumes were made in Philadelphia), but the plot sounds like another of his formula supernatural thrillers which will surely have a twist at the end. The movie stars Joaquin Phoenix, Sigourney Weaver, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Judy Greer, Jayne Atkinson, Michael Pitt, Cherry Jones, Celia Weston, Brendan Gleeson and Fran Kranz.
The set was closed and closely guarded during shooting, but despite that fact, we were able to find photos of the village and cemetary sets on a British website.
After the movie wrapped, the field where it was shot was returned to its original state. Everything constructed for the set was torn down. It is just a field again.
While filming, crew and production staff were spotted at local Brandywine Valley bars and restaurants. Cast members stayed at a local bed and breakfast along with their personal chef and assistants. Several of the cast liked the area enough to stay beyond filming and according to our sources, one brought his children for a few days of rest and relaxation before Christmas.