By Gabi Garrett/contributing writer
Have you ever heard a joke so many times you’ve forgotten why it’s funny? And then you hear it again and suddenly it’s new. You remember why you loved it in the first place,” said Will Bloom, fictional character from the Tim Burton film “Big Fish.”
“Big Fish” is a fan-declared “underrated” Burton film that has created an audience of devoted fans who connect to this story on personal levels. The quote by Bloom applies similarly to the experience guests have when they visit the set of Spectre, Alabama, a fictional town from their favorite film, “Big Fish.”
“When you watch the movie after visiting the set, it is a whole new experience,” shared Lynn Bright.
Lynn and Bobby Bright maintain the set of “Big Fish,” which is tucked away just about two and a half hours from the Mobile Bay area. Directly off Interstate 65, this miraculous piece of Hollywood is available to visit on your way to North Alabama, for a day trip or camping vacation. It will cost you just $3 per person to enter into Tim Burton’s dreamy world.
“It wasn’t our goal, and it still isn’t our goal to turn it into some big business, we just want it to be here for people to enjoy it. Now that we know there are people all over the world who have such meaningful connections to the story, we’re going to do our best to uphold the best we can,” said Lynn Bright.
The Brights have invested a great amount of time and money into maintaining the set after hearing the personal connections to the film. Lynn, in particular, loves to walk around the set of Spectre and find out what brought visitors to the location.
“You’d be surprised,” Lynn began, “but we have more visitors from out of the country than we do locally.”
On one Saturday in particular, the Brights hosted two families from France. They did not know each other but both had traveled to the United States to visit the miraculous abandoned movie set.
“It wasn’t until social media that we began to receive visitors,” Bright said. “In fact, we thought it might have been a mistake asking Burton and his film crew to leave us the movie set because we were beginning to think no one really cared.”
About 2010, when social media began to boom, the Brights were overjoyed to find people coming, literally, out of the woodwork to find joy in becoming part of their favorite movie set.
One story that touched Lynn the most was a father who came to visit the set after his son passed away from cancer. As it turns out, the movie has a deep storyline about a father and a son’s relationship. The father and son duo were able to watch this movie before the son passed away.
“The messaging about communication was able to heal their issues before it was too late,” Lynn said as she began to tear up.
It’s stories like these that keep the Brights going. Their parents were the ones who originally set up the land purchase for the film, and as both of them were middle-aged adults working full time, they were only involved on the weekends. The two now live on the property and maintain the set among other features of Jackson Lake Island.
“The film crew was incredible, they did everything they said they were going to,” the Brights said. “The level of detail of Burton is unparalleled. If the item was to be from the 1970s, believe me, it was.”
As the film came to an end and the idealistic Hollywood crew started to pack up and leave Jackson Lake Island, it was time to host a premiere.
“It’s a funny story,” Lynn began, “but, my husband was the mayor of Montgomery at the time, so at the premier, he presented Burton with a key to our city. Even though it was our family who hosted the movie set, he would have presented the key either way.”
This magical memory is available for you to visit anytime. Keep in mind, goats now run the town of Spectre, so be prepared for a unique Hollywood experience.
Want to go?
Take exit 176 off I-65 and travel about three miles down the road. Look for “Jackson Lake Island” on your Maps App and enjoy the scenery.
Address: Dirt road near Cypress Lane, Millbrook, AL 36054
(Photo | Gabi Garrett) The fictional town of Spectre, Ala., is about a two-and-a-half hour drive north on I-65 from Mobile.