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Director Steven Spielberg and a roster of stars arrive in Ephrata to film Always on June 17, 1989.
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On June 17, 1989, director Steven Spielberg, along with Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, and John Goodman and the rest of the crew for Always begin filming at the Ephrata Municipal Airport. They will continue to film for nearly two weeks.
Ephrata was chosen as one of the movie's major filming sites because the Ephrata Municipal Airport is spacious, dry, and uncrowded -- and a dead ringer for the fictional Flat Rock, Colorado, the dusty, remote airport where the story is set.
"I never expected to see this type of terrain in Washington," said the film's scenic designer (Bonino).
"We're definitely beaming," said one of the airport administrators not long after Ephrata was chosen (Sowa, "Two ...").
Always is about two daredevil aviators who fight forest fires. Other portions of the movie were shot in the mountains around Libby, Montana.
Binocular-wielding locals gathered outside the airport fences to catch glimpses of Goodman, Dreyfuss, and Hunter. The stars, along with most of the crew, were housed in the larger city of Moses Lake, about 20 miles away. Yet plenty of locals were able to tell stories about having a "friendly chat" with the stars (Sowa, "Shuffle ...").
The film crew converted the Ephrata Municipal Airport into a mock training field for smoke jumpers. The airport was originally the Ephrata Army Air Base, built as a training site for World War II pilots.
Ephrata residents tried to absorb as much Hollywood glamour as they could while the crews were in town, yet when the movie was finally released later that year, they had to go into Moses Lake to watch it. Ephrata's Lee Theater had closed nine years earlier.
Spielberg was riding high at the time, coming off a major success with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Yet Always turned out to be something of a critical and box office disappointment by Spielberg's standards.
Rick Bonino, "Focus on Ephrata," Spokane Chronicle, June 19, 1989, p. A-3; Tom Sowa, "Two Hollywood Film Crews Rolling into Ephrata," Spokesman-Review, May 15, 1989, p. A-3; Tom Sowa, "The Spielberg Shuffle," Spokesman-Review, p. B-10.
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