That was pretty much an e-mail from Mrs. Dr. Phil on Friday, forwarding an e-mail call for extras to help out with with summer's GVSU Summer Film Project. This year they are doing a full-length movie for the first time, To Live and Die in Dixie, and they needed 500 extras in the Grand Valley State University fieldhouse to portray fans at a women's basketball game. They suggested it would take about six hours and start at noon on Sunday. We'd known about the filming in July, of course, but neither of figured to mill around as extras. But... at the fieldhouse we'd at least have a seat, so what the heck?
Further instructions said that the school's colors -- that would be Dixie State University -- were maroon and gold and the time period was the early 1980s. Okay. In the late 70s and early 80s I did yearbook photography at Northwestern University. So for the first time in years, I hauled out the 35mm Nikon camera gear.
Ah, Old Friends
I didn't need the whole battle gear, but I pulled out a black Nikon F with an F2 non-metering pentaprism. 35mm f2. This camera has a nice heft, plus its maroon and gold neckstrap has an extra wide neck pad. Comfy. Then my second Nikon F3 and an 85mm f2. I debated, and went with the big blue camera bag -- it's all vintage -- because I could stick all my 2007 technology gear in the unused lens slots.
Then there was the issue of film. The Nikon F is a totally manual camera, but the F3 is electronic and I had to put two A76 batteries in it anyway, so it seemed a waste to just dry fire the cameras. So what's in the freezer? Hmm... two rolls of Ektar 1000 12 exposure, expiration date 1992? Whoa. It's vintage film! Well, what the hell? Either it can't be processed anymore -- there was no notation on the box as to whether it's a C-41 process and since I haven't bought any film in several years, I can't tell you whether Kodak still makes it -- or we take a chance to see what we can get. Besides, ISO 1000 is a nice film speed for indoors action. Used those in the Nikon F at 1/250th and f2. I also had a 24 exposure roll of ISO 200 Kodak Gold color print film expired in 2004, which went into the F3. Lock and load -- put on my good straw fedora and maroon T-shirt -- and rock and roll.
Pretty Much Fun
Beautiful day outside, not bad inside the fieldhouse. We took seats in the first row of the bleachers, right behind the scorer's table. It turned out to be a good vantage point for shooting and for gossiping with a couple of the cast members -- the three guys at the scorer's table and the two men playing the DSU women's basketball team coaches, plus two graduates of the GVSU film program.
An old gentleman sitting next to us had been in the GVSU summer short Freezer Jesus a few years back. He'd heard the call for extras and wanted to come back. Of the Grand Valley people and the Hollywood people brought in to work with the GVSU program, many stopped by to say hello. Many fond memories.
He told us that shooting a film was like being in the army -- a lot of stand around waiting for them to set up, then a few minutes of stark terror. And then, I said, you do it all over again. He laughed.
Scenes 11 and 14
They were shooting two games -- one where DSU loses and one where DSU wins. At the end of the losing game, our killer passes right in front of me as I'm bending over and putting away the Nikon F3. I managed to time it pretty much the same way over a handful of takes, thank you very much, so you should see the top of a fat guy with a straw fedora bending forward at the very least. (grin)
In honor of our jaunt, we grabbed take-out BBQ from Bono's, a southern BBQ joint which opened up in the last year. Yum.