The Elmhurst Quarry was originally a source of limestone for local builders but was converted into a flood control facility in the ’90s. The deep pit has stirred the imagination of many residents over the years and one former resident — Ian Martin — filmed part of his first feature film “Cooke Concrete” there.
“Like most kids growing up in Elmhurst, I was always intrigued by the quarry,” Martin said. “I had used a quarry as a location in the screenplay and I thought it would be great to film there but I wasn’t sure if it was possible. I reached out to the county and we were able to make it happen.”
Martin describes the 2018 film as a low-key comedic mystery about a slacker college student who comes home for the summer and, for reasons he doesn’t quite understand, goes searching for a local recluse. One of the places the main character searches is the quarry with his ex-girlfriend.
Martin said the nighttime shoot exceeded his expectations.
“It was such a cool location. We tried to capture as many great shots as we could. We really wanted to do justice to the location and I feel like we got some pretty great footage there. We’re not the only project to have filmed in the quarry, but I think maybe we have the most interesting footage of it.”
Other projects that have filmed in Elmhurst Quarry include “Chicago PD” and “Chicago Fire.”
The film was a labor of love for Martin who raised most of the budget on Kickstarter. The Kickstarter campaign was helped by its selection as a Kickstarter Staff Pick as well as the addition of Lil BUB — a famous and altruistic cat — to the cast.
“I went to Indiana University with Mike Bridavsky who was Lil BUB’s human,” Martin said. “We figured out a way to give BUB a cameo in the movie. It was really nice to have their support and I think her appearance is a fun moment for Lil BUB’s many fans.”
In addition to the quarry, the movie shot all over Illinois and some parts of Michigan.
“We had a lot of locations for a microbudget indie,” Martin said. “We filmed next to Salt Creek and along the Prairie Path. We filmed in the homes of some very kind and patient friends. We found a few locations on Airbnb. But the quarry was definitely the highlight for me. I had always wanted to film there and it did not disappoint.”
“Cooke Concrete” is available to stream on Tubi, rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video, and borrow on Hoopla.