I got the most incredible gift this week, y’all: A script from the 2003 movie “Big Fish.” It was sent to me by Tommy Fell of the Alabama Film Office to thank me for writing about movies filmed in Alabama, and as a belated wedding gift.
It is special to me because Sweetums and I were married at the abandoned film set used in “Big Fish.” Early in 2003, director Tim Burton came to Alabama to film a movie based on the book “Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions.” When he left, Alabama had a new town.
The book, written by Birmingham native Daniel Wallace, features the fictional town of Spectre. Burton built his version of this quaint little town on the privately-owned Jackson Lake Island near Millbrook, a beautiful spot where people can pay to fish and camp. Burton’s Spectre included a hotel, church, store, post office, houses and more.
When filming was completed, Burton offered to destroy the set but the owners said to leave it. Although several of the buildings burned, several homes and the little church are still standing. Of course, they are facades used for filming and they are not built to code. Because of that, they have been deteriorating for the past 14 years, but the owners of the island, Bobby and Lynn Bright, are refurbishing the set buildings as a tourist attraction.
Sweetums and I were married standing in front of the church at Spectre on October 16, 2016. Here are a few photos of the “town” taken that day by guests.