Classic cars cruise into Buchanan for ‘American Idol’ star’s music video shoot

BUCHANAN — The city of Buchanan found itself in the glow of the limelight on Sunday.

More than 100 classic cars pulled into Buchanan’s Fisher Field Sunday night to appear in “American Idol” star Margie Mays’ latest music video.

The cars were requested for a drive-in theater date scene for the video of Mays’ upcoming single, “Take It Back.”

Mays — a singer, songwriter and actress who appeared on seasons two and three of “American Idol” on ABC — took time before the shoot to meet and take photos with the participants. A Delaware native who now lives and works in Los Angeles, she enjoyed her Buchanan experience.

“I’m in love with Michigan,” Mays said. “It’s different from LA. People are kind to me. ‘Do you want food? Do you want to eat something?’ I’m like ‘no, I’m full, but thank you so much.’ It’s just peaceful out here. I’m completely overwhelmed by this. This is so kind and nice.”

The event was the latest boost of exposure the city of 4,500 people has received in a year’s time. Buchanan was named Reader’s Digest’s “Nicest Place in America” in 2020 and Buchanan native Hannah Roberts won the silver medal in BMX freestyle in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Music video director Kyle Misak was pleasantly surprised by the vehicle turnout.

“I was talking with Margie, and we were wanting to do a drive-in theater scene because her music video takes place in the ‘60s,” Misak said. “Initially, we had thought we could get a few period cars. So, I’d reached out to people that I’d worked with before but they were unavailable.”

Misak then turned to his production designer Don Chase — a Buchanan native — to see if he could make something happen.”

“He put out a post asking for people to come to this field if they had a period card that was 70’s or older and we started getting emails the next day,” Misak added. “Before we knew it, we had over 100 cars RSVP. It was pretty crazy.”

One of the cars in attendance came straight from Buchanan. William Lillie, of Niles, purchased his 1967 Chevy Nova from the Edmond’s Chevrolet dealership in Buchanan in July 1967. Still in its original condition, Lillie has had it back on the road the past four years after leaving it sitting for many more.

Lillie was glad to be a part of the shoot.

“I love cars,” he said. “I like almost every car but my heart really loves factory stock cars. Those are the ones I’m drawn to for sure.”

Steve Rogers of Automotive Plus, 1810 S. 11th St., Niles, helped Lillie get his Nova up to speed.

“We’re just looking for excuses to get it out and go places,” Rogers said. “I heard about this, and I brought my convertible down and I told him ‘let’s go’.”

Buchanan natives Duke and Lorena Lawton brought their 1964 Studebaker to the shoot after working with Misak on another project.

“We did one last fall with the director [Kyle Misak],” Lawton said. “I got an email from him and he said he wanted my Studebaker here with the top up, so we came out. … I didn’t think there’d be this many cars here. I thought we might have two dozen but this is bigger than I thought.”

For Dale Jones, of New Carlisle, the event was not only a chance to showcase his car to the world but to also connect with area car fanatics.

“We get to see other car enthusiasts,” he said. “We like to see the other cars but it’s not just about that. It’s the camaraderie between all of the hot rodders and car collectors.”

The video shoot was a pleasant surprise for Jim and Denise Morris of Jim’s Smokin’ Cafe in downtown Niles.

“We do brunch on Sundays,” Jim said. “We closed at two, cleaned up and went for a drive in the country. We were coming back into town and I saw all of these old cars turning, so we turned too. I heard about it, but I didn’t put two and two together. You don’t see too many of these there.”

Misak has filmed in the area before and feels Buchanan and southwest Michigan captures the “classic midwest” aesthetic he often looks for.

“We filmed a lot of stuff in Buchanan and Three Oaks over the past several years,” Misak said. “We shoot most of our films down here. We just shot a short film called ‘The Autumn Girl’ at a sandlot field here back in October, so we had this spot in mind. We just thought it’d be enough room for cars and it was surrounded by trees and it had a hill that we could utilize to get the best angle for one of our wider shots. It’s nice that people took the time out of their day to come out here, bring their car and be so supportive of it and it really helped the scene look really high in production value.”

For Mays, the production aspect of music videos is something she has grown to enjoy.

“This is a breakup song and I wanted a lot of romance stuff going on,” Mays said. “I studied some films and shots that I really love. Seeing us do them, execute them and watch them come to life and having the guys who are behind the camera be like ‘that was so good’ even when I felt awkward is exciting. This is the coolest project I’ve ever done.”

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