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My apartment, the movie set

In 2009, assuming the producers don't run out of money, you'll be able to see my apartment building in the movies.

Cars and buses from the 1950s have been lined up along the street where the FedEx guys usually park, in order to transform my building into someplace in Dallas called the Aristocrat Hotel. Those of us who live here can't get in the front door today because we'd have to push through a crowd of extras in old-time suits and hats. Our running clothes and U of C t-shirts and iPods wouldn't quite fit in with the period ambience, I'm guessing.

The movie is going to be called The Express, and it's about the first black Heisman Trophy winner and #1 draft pick in the NFL, Ernie Davis. Davis died of leukemia at age 23 before playing a single professional football game -- I'm surprised it took so long to make a movie about him. Dennis Quaid is starring as Davis' college football coach, and he's the only star or crew member that I recognize by name. I'm not sure if he's going to be in any of the scenes filmed at my apartment building or not, but anyone who knows me won't be surprised to find out that I won't be hovering around hoping to get an autograph. I've never really been much of the type for that sort of thing. (There's probably only two or three people I'd try to wheedle an autograph out of, and none of them are involved with this project.)

One thing I'm always impressed by is how much organization it takes to produce a movie. Just for the scenes that are shooting at my building, they've had to close down two streets, arrange for fifteen to twenty vehicles from the 1950s including one car that says "Dallas Police," hire off-duty Chicago police officers to keep the riff-raff out from in front of the cameras, rent a vacant apartment here to hold crowds of extras in between takes, and bring in several truckfuls of lights, props, camera equipment, and canvas-backed directors' chairs. They've had to get permits to do all this from the state and the city, and they've had to pay the owners of my building an undisclosed amount of money that we've been assured will be donated to the public elementary school down the block. And I wouldn't be surprised if all of this effort turns into less than five minutes of screen-time in the finished movie.

I suppose that's why I'd love to be a movie director. All that infrastructure is set up around you, and then you get to sit in the center of it all and bend it to your will and vision. Ok, maybe that's only true for the auteur directors, and even then only part of the time, but still. It can't be a bad thing to have a job where you're basically the guy that gets to literally run the show.

Comments

I saw that movie once, it was called "Brian's Song." If you like sad movies, that's a good one to see. Seriously, that movie had everything that this one apparently has: race relations (Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers were supposedly the first interracial roommates in NFL history), football, cancer. Sorry if that came off a little too flippant.
The movie, Meet the Parents, was partly filmed in my hometown. I had moved away already, but my mother told me that she saw some of the filming in a small shopping center. The outside of "the Oyster Bay Drug and Sundry" was the outside of a grocery store, while the inside was the inside of the mom and pop drug store (yes, there still are a few of those) next door. When I saw the movie, I recognized it immediately. Why they used different buildings for the exterior and interior shots is beyond me.
By the way, I will start posting again real soon. I'm in the process of moving and switching jobs.

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