A young woman and her father are hunted by a pack of massive alligators, trapped in their Florida lake house as a Category 5 hurricane floods their property.
In a state known for reptiles and storms, the plot to the new movie Crawl might send shivers down spines. But when the horror film opens Thursday, Tampa Bay residents might be filled with even more dread.
The movie was made on a sound stage in Belgrade, Serbia. But exterior footage placing the story in Florida was shot in the Tampa Bay area.
In the script, a University of Florida student drives to Tampa to evacuate her father. When he is not at his condominium, she heads to their nearby lake house. She finds him, and they get trapped and hunted.
The actual lake house was built on the sound stage, but exteriors of the neighborhood were shot near a small body of water to the west that feeds off Lake Maggiore. Maps don't name it, but realtors call it Little Lake Maggiore.
In a tragic coincidence, Lake Maggiore is where the severely decomposed body of 16-year-old Jarvis Deliford was found on July 4, surrounded by alligators.
St. Petersburg police have said there were no signs of foul play. Deliford went missing from a juvenile detention facility in Clearwater on June 29. Police say the teen cut off an ankle monitor in his mother's home, and that they are trying to understand why he was at the St. Petersburg lake.
Those associated with the movie were shocked to hear about the teen's death and did not want to comment.
Summaries for Crawl only say it takes place in a Florida town. Jonathan Chambers, the St. Petersburg producer charged with orchestrating the shoot, does not know if Tampa will be referenced in the final cut nor how much of his footage will be used.
"Some of it will be B-roll," Chambers said, but "it's mostly what you call background plates. They shoot in the sound stage and use green screens to add the background."
Closeups were filmed on the sound stage. In Tampa Bay, an extra wearing the same clothes as the female character drove the same model Jeep outfitted with the same props, like beads hanging from the mirror.
The Tampa skyline might be visible in the wide shot of the Jeep driving across the Selmon Expressway, he said.
Filming happened last August through October, Chambers said.
"We had to capture days when it was storming. That made it difficult. We had to be on standby and shoot whenever it rained."
To accommodate such a schedule, both the Hillsborough and Pinellas film commission offices issued the production an open-ended permit to film storm stock footage.
Chambers said they also "shot up and down neighborhood roads in the Tierra Verde area, St. Petersburg, Thonotosassa. You'll might see palm trees, other homes and greenery in the background."
The film commissioners on both sides of the bridge hailed Crawl as another example of this area's recent resurgence as a movie-making destination.
"Let's keep this train rolling," St.Petersburg-Clearwater film commissioner Tony Armer said.
Added Hillsborough County film commissioner Tyler Martinolich, "When Hollywood calls, we have the talent to get the job done."
Contact Paul Guzzo at email@example.com or follow @PGuzzoTimes.