For years it was difficult to miss the Hillyard Laundry Building, home of the Pilot Book Store.
Painted canary yellow with cobalt blue trim, it stood out like a peacock among sparrows. Until December: that’s when North by Northwest picked the building to be part of the set for “Camilla Dickinson,” a film based on the novel “Camilla,” by Madeleine L’Engle, and starring Cary Elwes.
“They just came in here one day and said they’d like to use my building for a movie set,” said Thomas Connelly, who owns the Pilot Book Store. “And they painted the front for me.” The building is now cream-colored with a very classy dark green trim.
Vincent DeFelice, production designer with North by Northwest, said he was looking for a building that was period correct for the movie and had an East Coast feel to it when he came across Connelly’s store.
“In the story, there are some characters that own a music store in New York and live above it,” said DeFelice. “When we saw the staircase behind the counter we knew this would work.”
The Pilot Book Store has always featured a lot of books in a small space, so some cleanup was necessary to get it movie ready.
“I don’t think we’d ever really seen that front room empty,” said DeFelice, explaining that it took a crew of five people about two days to box all the books and carry them into the back room.
Connelly seemed surprised it could be done that fast.
“They really changed Tom’s store,” he said. “I love the new color. It matches the other building. It has this shimmer to it that I really like.”
Connelly said North by Northwest crews moved 150 cases of books into the back, where some were put back on shelves and others were sold.
“Tom was very gracious and so excited to have us,” said DeFelice. “He was a total darling to work with. And of course it made it easier for us that he didn’t want us to put the books back out in the front room.” No word yet on when the film will be released.
Overall it was a great experience said Connelly, who lives upstairs and plans a little garden out back.
“It’s a very Spokane story,” Connelly said. “What I mean is, be careful what you wish for in Spokane because it may just happen.”