This guide to “12 Mighty Orphans” filming locations is written by one of the film’s associate producers, guest blogger Anne Fleitas. Fans of the film can enjoy touring the real-life locations in Fort Worth at their leisure.
This sports film, starring Luke Wilson, Vinessa Shaw, Wayne Knight, Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall, tells the true story of the Mighty Mites, the football team of a Fort Worth orphanage who, during the Great Depression, went from playing without shoes--or even a football--to playing for the Texas State Championships.
We always knew we wanted to shoot in Fort Worth, where the true story took place. Creating an authentic portrayal of Depression-era Fort Worth was no easy task, but with help from the Fort Worth Film Commission, we had access to some truly amazing and historical locations, which ultimately set the scene for the story director Ty Roberts wanted to tell.
The Woman’s Club of Fort Worth: 1316 Pennsylvania Ave, Fort Worth
The Woman's Club of Fort Worth is one of the city's oldest membership organizations, formed in 1923 by the members of several existing woman's clubs. This is where we filmed both Amon Carter’s office as well as The White House interior. The wonderful thing about this particular location is that it was basically picture-ready, in that we didn’t have to dress it as much as the other locations.
Gateway Park: 1701 N Beach Street, Fort Worth
Gateway Park is a large, 635-acre park located on the city’s east side immediately north of Interstate 30 and east of Beach Street. All of the local stadiums were too modern to match the time period, so every football game was filmed at this location, with a stadium set that we built from scratch. We started with the State Championship game against Amarillo, and then continued to change the facade as we filmed the rest of the season. It’s incredible what can be achieved with a very talented art department and VFX team.
Fort Worth Masonic Temple: 1100 Henderson St, Fort Worth
Designed by Wiley G. Clarkson, the Neoclassical/early PWA Art Moderne structure was completed in 1931 and has largely remained unchanged. This location was used for the UIL hearings as well as the press box, which we built inside the main hall. It was especially moving for us to be able to film inside a Masonic building, because the Masons were an integral part of the Mighty Mite’s history.
Farrington Field: 1501 University Dr, Fort Worth
Designed by Preston M. Geren, the stadium was financed with federal funds from the WPA and a local contribution from the school district. We used a few of the exteriors outside of the stadium, as well as the locker room from Billingsley Field House next door. I think all of us will remember this location because it’s where Robert Duvall first arrived on set and was reunited with Martin Sheen.
Ridglea Theater: 6025 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth
The Ridglea Theater is a single-screen theater located in Fort Worth, Texas, which opened in December 1950. We used both the interior and exterior of this stunning location for the Mighty Mites' night out on the town.
Texas Pythian Home: 1825 E Bankhead Dr, Weatherford
The Texas Pythian Home opened on March 1, 1909, as a home for widows and orphans of Knights of Pythias members. Although technically outside of Fort Worth, several scenes were filmed at this massive location, including the boy’s dorm, classrooms, mess hall, infirmary, Remmert’s office, Rusty and Juanita’s apartment, Wynn’s printing press, and the practice field.
Yellow Jacket Stadium: 1201 W Henderson St, Cleburne
Construction on Yellow Jacket Stadium began in 1939 as a Public Works Administration project through President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal initiative. This unique stadium was the location of the locker room scene during the State Championship game against Amarillo.
Young Field/McNair Stadium: 9601 N Normandale St, Fort Worth
While we didn’t film here, this field was where we held both tryouts as well as a two-week football camp for the actors and opposing players. Here, the boys ran drills, learned how to handle a 1930s football (they’re huge!) and most importantly, became a team.
Joe T Garcia’s: 2201 N Commerce St, Fort Worth
Okay so we didn’t actually film at Joe T’s either, but I thought they deserved an honorary mention because of how often we ate here.
Beautiful film locations and a welcoming city--it’s not hard to see why we were so thrilled to be able to call Fort Worth our home away from home during production.
“12 Mighty Orphans” filmed in Fort Worth, Texas in the fall of 2019. Sony Pictures Classics will release the film nationwide on June 18, 2021.