Location manager for upcoming Scorsese film speaks with Pawhuska business owners

Photo caption: In May, Kihekah Avenue in Pawhuska will be transformed into 1920s downtown Fairfax for the upcoming film based on David Grann's bestselling book, "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI." SHANNON SHAW DUTY/Osage News

Location, location, location.

A lot goes into making a film, as Location Manager Mike Fantasia explained to a crowd of about 30 or so business owners who own shops along Kihekah Avenue in downtown Pawhuska. He said the area of Kihekah Avenue that will be used for the upcoming film based on David Grann’s bestselling book, “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” will be the blocks between 6th and 8th streets.

That blocks will be transformed into 1920s downtown Fairfax. Complete with a dirt road, new streetlights from that period and new facades for some of the buildings, and renovations for others. The Osage News is located at 604 Kihekah. The word Kihekah is the Osage word for Chief.

“We’re basically going to touch every storefront from 6th to 8th (street),” he said. “The storefronts that have not been renovated we’ll probably just tweak a little bit. Some paint, some new glass maybe. Buildings that have been wholly renovated we will turn back to 1920, either with a façade or in some cases we’re going to have to build a new storefront and in a couple of cases at the curb level.”

He said the majority of the changes they make they will leave for the benefit of the store owners. They will also be making agreements with each store owner and detailing the changes they will be making. All store owners will be compensated.

Fantasia said the filming on Kihekah will take place in May and will last about 25 days, and during that time the street will be closed to traffic. Some filming will take place inside on sets, and others will be in the street with hundreds of extras. He said Pawhuska Hometown Appliance will be the main business used on Kihekah and that three to four sets will be constructed inside the building. There will also be around 200 to 250 members of the film crew walking around, set vehicles, set dressers, actors – “there are a lot of things that play into making a film,” he said.

Scorsese is set to arrive in Pawhuska the beginning of February and will do some scouting on Kihekah. The store owners will be notified ahead of time so they can park their vehicles elsewhere and the street will be closed off while Scorsese and other filmmakers tour the street. Fantasia said they are working with the city and the Pawhuska Police Department for the effort.

Other places in Pawhuska that will be used for filming, that he knows of so far, include the First Christian Church, the old Superintendent’s House on the Osage Nation campus, and he said they just signed an agreement with the Nation to use its railyard property that is across from the Allen Feed Store, behind Hometown Foods. He said that area will serve as their base camp for their trailers, hair and makeup, and that will also be the site where they are constructing a train station along with a train track.

He said they will also film scenes in Fairfax, Grayhorse, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and McAlester. However, the majority of the film will be shot in Pawhuska and surrounding areas. He said they will be using local merchants as much as possible, getting their gas for their vehicles in Osage County, and many of the film crew are staying in Pawhuska and in Bartlesville. He said the average day of filming is 17-18 hours, with 10 hours being a short day. The film crew definitely doesn’t want to have to drive an hour away after a long day’s work, he said.

Fantasia said this will be the biggest film he’s ever worked on, and he’s worked on over 30 films with some of Hollywood’s best directors. “It’s a big deal, but it’s certainly manageable,” he said. 

The film will star Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro as two of the main protagonists. The rest of the cast has not been publicly named yet and it is unknown whether a cast has been selected – although Osages in the area have said they have been called about various roles in the film.

In May 2020, it was announced that Apple Studios will produce the film while Paramount will distribute the film theatrically worldwide.


This article was clarified on Jan. 29, 2021, to reflect that the budget for the film is unknown at this time.