A block off W. 7th Street in St. Paul, a crew appeared, pulling lights, stands and crates from a long white truck. They traded information on walkie-talkies. They set a camera on a tripod. They made a film set where, moments before, there had been none.

"Is this your driveway?" someone asked Patrick Coyle, the film's director. He nodded.

His driveway, his neighborhood, his movie.

Coyle, a 64-year-old actor, screenwriter and director, has filmed three feature films in Minnesota before. But never so close to home.

He based his screenplay for the film, "Unholy Communion," on a book of the same name written by Scandia author Thomas Rumreich and published by Beaver's Pond Press, the company Coyle's wife owns. He cast as its stars two actors who grew up in Minnesota — Vincent Kartheiser, known for playing Pete Campbell in "Mad Men," and Adam Bartley, known for playing "The Ferg" on the TV series "Longmire."

Then, over the course of four weeks in January and February, he and his team shot the movie mostly in the West 7th neighborhood — its vintage bars, storefronts and houses standing in for the story's small-town setting. They filmed in Keenan's Bar and Grill, the Day by Day Cafe and Mancini's Char House.

Coyle's family dentist lent his offices. A neighbor lent his truck.

"There aren't a lot of film shoots that happen here," Coyle said. "Then there really aren't a lot that originate from here. ... But I personally love the visual opportunities of the Twin Cities because they're just so different from each other."

St. Paul feels old world, he continued, and the West 7th corridor is "like a sound stage in itself."

This script was Coyle's first adaptation. The Nebraska-born filmmaker has "read many, many screenplays and heard many, many pitches over the years," he said. But Rumreich's novel, his first, felt different. "There was just something so honest and plaintive about Thomas himself. We just completely clicked."

Rumreich, 81, a retired dentist, wrote "Unholy Communion" over five years. But he'd been mulling its story long before that. The book follows a small-town investigator as he tracks a killer who is targeting priests — a plot drawn from Rumreich's personal and professional history.

During Rumreich's freshman year at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn., a priest sexually abused him, he said. "I was too naïve to have any understanding that I was being groomed," Rumreich said. "I was getting complimented by a person I respected." Ashamed, embarrassed and struggling in school, he transferred, earning bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology.

After working for a corporation for a couple years, he quit and enrolled at the University of Minnesota. "I started over," he said, taking the physics, math and chemistry courses needed to fulfill his original dream of dentistry. He graduated — again — at 33.

In addition to running a private practice in Forest Lake, which he enjoyed, Rumreich worked as a forensic dentist for the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office for 16 years, assisting on cases when a body had been burned beyond recognition or had dramatically decomposed in the woods or water.

He also worked difficult, disturbing child abuse cases.

Though he got counseling, his own history gnawed at him. Writing "Unholy Communion" was cathartic, he said. "But it also took me places I'd rather not go." In the book, he explored "the tragedy of abuse, how it affects an individual."

His wife, Ruth Ronning, often found him typing in the sunroom at 7 a.m.

"She was instrumental in helping me write the book," he said, "in terms of supporting me during the downtimes."

The pair are executive producers of the film, which has a six-figure budget and 15 investors. Last year, Coyle and Rumreich gathered folks in a room for a reading of the script. Afterward, a few men shared stories of their own abuse, Coyle said. "It was really emotional and moving, and all of a sudden I felt like maybe we were telling a story that needs to be told."

On a mild February afternoon, Coyle approached a large monitor, eyeing the shot that his director of photography, Greg Stiever, had set up ahead of the actors' arrival, framed by the window of a pickup truck. Every few minutes, a crew member asked Coyle a question about timing, about lighting, about construction noise on a house across the street.

At one point, Coyle rested on a crate for five, 10 seconds. Then he sprung up.

"The makeup people are here," he said with a wry smile. "That means actors are close behind."

Bartley arrived on set, a badge on his belt, ready to play the film's protagonist, investigator Chris Majek.

"He's fabulous," said producer Jasmine Reid, who has worked with Coyle before, including on his 2009 film "Into Temptation." "One of the first things he did was ask for a crew list so he could get to know everybody's names."

Bartley, who grew up in Eden Prairie, heard about this role not through his agent but through his aunt, a friend of Ronning's. Over lunch, she and her girlfriends got to talking about her husband's book-turned-film and one of them said, "Oh, I have a nephew who's an actor!"

Bartley read the script and called Coyle the next day saying, "I'm in."

It's the first time Bartley, who is based in Los Angeles, has had the opportunity to work onscreen in his home state, he said. He's been surprised at the acting talent and the professionalism of the crew. "You could make the argument that Minnesota is still in its infancy" in terms of film production, he said. "And everybody's been performing at a high level. It's been a joy, every minute of it.

"And I think we're making a good movie, too."

Bartley climbed into the truck alongside Ernest Briggs, who was playing his character's partner, Ron. They ran the scene once, twice. Then Coyle walked over to the two actors. "It's starting a little defensive, like 'I acted on a hunch!'" Coyle said to Briggs. "I think it's more a statement of fact. You might even be bragging about it."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Briggs said, nodding.

They got back in the truck, tried it again. "I acted on a hunch," Briggs said, his tone more casual. Bartley, too, shifted his approach. "Don't let him rile you," he said, easier now. "He's got an attitude."

The car doors slammed, and Coyle yelled "Cut!"

"I love that one," he said, grinning. "Beautiful."

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described funding for the film. Because its budget is less than $1 million, the project does not qualify for the state tax credit.