Blog Post

I got this very cool gift, a memento of the film set town where we were married

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.

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A house facade at the fictional town of Spectre on Jackson Lake Island in Millbrook, AL. It is part of the film set built by director Tim Burton for the movie “Big Fish” in 2003. (Photo by JJ Vincent)
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The fictional town of Spectre on Jackson Lake Island in Millbrook, AL. It is part of the film set built by director Tim Burton for the movie “Big Fish” in 2003. People throw their shoes over the line, just as they did in the film. We threw our shoes following our wedding ceremony. (Photo by JJ Vincent)
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A house facade at the fictional town of Spectre on Jackson Lake Island in Millbrook, AL. It is part of the film set built by director Tim Burton for the movie “Big Fish” in 2003. (Photo by JJ Vincent)
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My wedding shoes on the porch of a house in Spectre. (Photo by Glenn Wills of Forgotten Alabama)
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The mayor’s home in the fictional town of Spectre was the only one with any interior decoration. This room can be seen in the scene where Ewan McGregor has pie with the mayor of Spectre. (Photo by JJ Vincent)
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Yes, Sweetums brought a Bigfoot statue to Spectre for our wedding. He is peeking from behind the church. (Photo by Glenn Wills of Forgotten Alabama)
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A house facade at the fictional town of Spectre on Jackson Lake Island in Millbrook, AL. It is part of the film set built by director Tim Burton for the movie “Big Fish” in 2003. (Photo by JJ Vincent)
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The fictional town of Spectre on Jackson Lake Island in Millbrook, AL. It is part of the film set built by director Tim Burton for the movie “Big Fish” in 2003. (Photo by JJ Vincent)
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The fictional town of Spectre on Jackson Lake Island in Millbrook, AL. It is part of the film set built by director Tim Burton for the movie “Big Fish” in 2003. (Photo by JJ Vincent)
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The fictional town of Spectre on Jackson Lake Island in Millbrook, AL. It is part of the film set built by director Tim Burton for the movie “Big Fish” in 2003. (Photo by JJ Vincent)
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Seen through fake trees built for the movie “Big Fish” is the fictional town of Spectre on Jackson Lake Island in Millbrook, AL. It is part of the film set built by director Tim Burton for the movie “Big Fish” in 2003. (Photo by JJ Vincent)
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The goats who live on Jackson Lake Island were guests at our wedding. (Photo by Glenn Wills)
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Me throwing my shoes over the line after our wedding ceremony. (Photo by Glenn Wills of Forgotten Alabama)
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Sweetums and I on our wedding day at Spectre, standing between fake trees built for the movie “Big Fish.” They are the only surviving trees from the spooky forest built for the movie. (Photo by Glenn Wills)
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As favors for our guests, we had refrigerator magnets made. One is the shape of Alabama with Spectre marked with a star and a line of shoes going across it. Another is in the shape of the Spectre sign seen in the film. It is still on the island. (Photo by Glenn Wills)
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A house facade at the fictional town of Spectre on Jackson Lake Island in Millbrook, AL. It is part of the film set built by director Tim Burton for the movie “Big Fish” in 2003. (Photo by JJ Vincent)
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I made my bouquet with flowers made from Alabama maps. (Photo by Glenn Wills)
Big Fish script
Tommy Fell of the Alabama Film Office sent me this script from the movie “Big Fish.”

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