American film crew working on Boblo boat movie


By Ron Giofu


A new feature length film is in production focusing on the life and times of the former Boblo boats.

Director Aaron Schillinger and director of photography Joe Flinders of Baby Volcano Films are producing a feature film about the Boblo boats entitled “Boblo Boats: A Tale of Two Sisters.”

The film is being described as “a Detroit fairytale about island amusement park, Boblo, and the iconic steamboats that delivered countless patrons to its shores for nearly a century before it was tragically shut down in the early ‘90s.”

SS Columbia

SS Columbia (Photo courtesy of Marsh Historical Collection)

Matt Stinson, public relations director on the film, said it is “a part documentary, part narrative film.” He said the director and director of photography both are from New York and became interested in doing a film after learning more about the SS Columbia, with that ship being restored for its future life in New York.

The release date of the film is scheduled for the first quarter of 2017, Stinson said.

“The business plan is to have the film released when Columbia is fully restored and employed into service on the Hudson River,” he added.

Production has been focused in metro Detroit and Toledo over the summer, aided by a mainly Detroit-based crew, though Stinson noted they already have completed some work on Boblo.

While a lot of the film is a documentary, Stinson added they are looking to use special effects to “recreate the magic that was Boblo.” The filmmakers are also aiming to film reenactment scenes.

Schillinger and Flinders have become associated with the SS Ste. Claire restoration project. Alongside the Ste. Claire project, the filmmakers are actively seeking a new home for the vessel “while at the same time capturing the struggle to restore one of Detroit’s last remaining testaments to a bygone prosperous era.”

“She is currently being threatened with the scrapyard,” added Stinson.

The Ste. Clair could be used as a dockside attraction, he continued, with revenue earned during its time as a dockside attraction being used to one day fully restore the vessel to where it could sail again. Getting the Ste. Clair seaworthy again is unfeasible at this point, he added, noting the $15-20 million cost to restore the Columbia to sailing condition.

The filmmakers have launched a crowdfunding campaign on, with Stinson noting they are trying to obtain $300,000 U.S. A barbecue party with Motown legend Martha Reeves has also helped to raise funds for the film.

“The first time I set eyes on the Boblo boats, I knew they had the same symbolic power as any fairytale,” said Schillinger added in a press release. “The Ste. Claire is Detroit’s last vestige of Boblo Island. She is a living fairy tale.”

Stinson noted the filmmakers are confident enough in the film to where they have put up their own finances and taken time away from their jobs to work on it.

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