The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 2, 1996 · Page 27
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 27

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Wednesday, October 2, 1996
Page 27
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THE SALINA JOURNAL APPLAUSE! WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 1996 3 MAKING A SCENE: 30,000 EXTRAS USED TO FILM A MOVIE ABOUT SLAIN SINGER By PATRICIA RODRIGUEZ c.1996 Fort Worth Star- Telegram SAN ANTONIO — Movie director Gregory Nava zipped around the sawdust-covered floor of the Alamodome in a golf cart labeled with a hand- lettered sign proclaiming its occupant "El Gran Jefe," The Big Boss. Technically, the 30,000 or so volunteers jammed into one half of the sports arena were working for him. At his behest, they repeatedly jumped out of their seats, screamed, clapped and waved homemade signs; their movements were captured by a bevy of film crews. But the majority of these extras came to this all-day event last week not for Nava, or for the money (they weren't paid) or even because they wanted to be in show business. No, the 'crowd was enticed by the movie's subject matter: the story of slain Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla Perez. Chalk up another legacy for Selena. With all those people filling the stands in a re-creation of Selena's last major concert, the scene was probably the biggest one ever filmed in the state, Texas film officials said. But more than that, the Selena I movie, with a modest-for-Holly- 'wood budget estimated at $20 million, may help bring Texas, especially South Texas, into the forefront of Hispanic film production. "This is a big one for us," said Kathy Rhoads, director of the San Antonio Film Commission. "My dream is to make this (San Antonio) a major Hispanic production center. It's something we could do that, really, nobody else is doing." A study last year prepared by the University of North Texas for the Texas Film Commission encouraged the state's film industry to begin developing the Latino market. Texas is already one of the top five U.S. states in the moviemaking industry, but has attracted relatively few Hispanic productions. This is despite the state's booming Hispanic population (40 percent of Texans will be of Hispanic descent in 25 years) and a market for Hispanic- themed filmed entertainment that has exploded in the last decade. Most Latino productions are filmed in Florida or Puerto Rico, the study said. But the San Antonio film commission has been actively courting the Hispanic market for the past five years. It has just begun to pay off, Rhoads said. Last year, San Antonio was host to the Latino Laugh Festival, which was turned into a 12-segment program for the Showtime cable channel. Bengtson 730 N SANTA FE 023 3771 SALINA The city has also been chosen as the site for other Latino- themed productions, including a couple of Telernundo programs and a syndicated series set at Sea World. A LONG PROCESS The immediate effect of the Selena movie, with the imaginative working title of "Selena, "on the Texas film community is hard to judge precisely. Rhoads estimated that the financial impact to be $8 million in San Antonio, where the crew will film for a total of eight weeks before moving to Corpus Christi for two weeks. Moctezuma Esparza, the film's producer, said "many" jobs were filled by Texans, but he didn't know how many. Rhoads said about half of the crew of approximately 200 were Texans. Despite a national casting call that drew thousands of Texans, the major adult roles were filled with established Hollywood actors. They include Edward James Olmos as Abraham Quintanilla Jr., Selena's father, and Jennifer Lopez, formerly of TV's "In Living Color" and a stai: of the Robin Williams movie "Jack," as the adult Selena. However, Becky Lee Meza, a self-assured 10-year-old from Harlingen, won the coveted part of the young Selena, A number of local extras, largely Hispanic, were hired for smaller scenes, including some set on the River- walk, the Alamo and in San Antonio restaurants and clubs. "You look at it as training. You may not get paid much, but you're getting experience," Rhoads said. Even the extras at the Sept. 15 taping got some insight into the movie business, particularly the nonglamorous part. The film crew worked more than 12 hours, not counting time to build and then tear down the set, to capture four scenes that will total perhaps 5 minutes in the movie. The movie, scheduled for a spring 1997 theatrical release, will recount Selena's rise from aspiring singer to big Tejano star. The movie will end with the Astrodome concert, about a month before she was shot to death by the former president of her fan club. ' Fans, who were admitted only if they had obtained free tickets from a local grocery store chain, began lining up as early as 10 p.m. the previous night to ensure good seats within range of the cameras. By 9 that morning, thousands stood in orderly lines on the plaza outside the Alamodome; many clutched colorful signs declaring their love for Selena and bought $2.50 Cokes from opportunistic vendors. Shortly after 10 a.m., the fans were allowed to'enter the arena, which had been transformed into a replica of the Houston Astrodome to re-create a concert Selena gave there during the Houston stock show in February 1995. Posters advertising Houston and decorated with red, white and blue bunting lined the arena; the cement floor was covered with a mixture of sawdust, dirt and wood shavings to mimic the stock show setting. In the middle of the arena was a small, round stage with a blue skirt, stocked with drums and other instruments and backed with a white screen. Within 30 minutes, the crowd had filed in, filling just less than half the arena. Through the magic of film and the ingenuity of camera angles, however, the crowd will look like the 61,000 people who attended the real concert, producer Esparza said. After the group had settled in, Nava grabbed a microphone and addressed them; he appealed to the crowd's sentiments in an effort to get the effect he wanted. "We want to celebrate and remember the life of Selena, who meant so much to all of us," Nava said. He went on to outline the way he wanted the audience to react: screaming, yelling, jumping, cheering, waving their signs, in an authentic display of affection and adoration for the star. The crowd was more than willing to oblige. People went wild 15 minutes later as Lopez slowly paraded before them in a carriage drawn by a single white horse. They kept it up for more than an hour, as the scene was repeated nearly a dozen times, half with the horse entering from one side of the arena, the rest from the other side. "You're going to see what it's really like to be in a movie," Nava said as some extras' enthusiasm seemed to fade. "It is long. It is slow. And it can be incredibly boring." ENTERTAINING THE VOLUNTEERS The mere scope of the concert scenes concerned the filmmakers, who had prepared for more than two weeks for the single day of filming. "The normal process of setting up a big movie scene was complicated by the fact that we were also setting up a concert," Esparza said. "We needed to capture the crowd scenes, but we also had to worry about how we could keep this entertaining to the thousands of volunteers, so that they would stay for the duration." While workers prepared for the next scene and the actors were off in their trailers, comedian Paul Rodriguez, a friend of John Wood &Assoc. • FINANCIAL stuvicts Specializing In Employee Benefits SSTlntricate Handcrafted Wood Scenes From TIM Oiifinal Kantai itaiiow nbodcud SmokvHill H U S E. 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The staff also tried to spice up the atmosphere with a 45- minute concert by Tejano singer Pete Astudillo, giveaways of prizes ranging from cellular phones to a pickup truck, and brief appearances by any celebrities who could be enticed into the arena, even those without any connection to the movie. John Schneider, Bo Duke on the kitschy 1970s show "The Dukes of Hazzard," showed up briefly, but a rumored appearance by Jimmy Smits did not materialize. Planning ahead, the filmmakers did the largest crowd scenes first. By 7 p.m., when at least half of the crowd had disappeared, they had moved on to close-ups of Lopez, although the crowd could still be heard cheering in the background. Even those fans who couldn't make it to the taping would still be kept abreast of the filming: Nearly a dozen TV crews, including crews from Spanish- language Univision and Telemu- ndo, recorded footage on the set. There were also print reporters and photographers from as far away as Mexico City. Laila Rodriguez, a reporter and producer for Telemundo in Houston and San Antonio, interviewed everyone she could get to step in front of her camera. She planned to produce a daily news report plus a five-part series to air during sweeps in November. "People always want to know more about her," Rodriguez said. "Even now, they can't get enough of Selena." BUFFALO MEAT Retail and wholesale customers welcome o Z MEATS Sallna, KS (East o! checkered water taw on Scanten st tie Airport) (913)823-7474 800-435-6328 Change Includes 15 point Inspection and up to 5 quarts of oil 913-823-6372 Bennett Autoplex. Inc. Service Department (551 S. Ohio JEAN CURRY 2737 Belmont Blvd. 823-5129 We'll always be there for you. Shelter Insurance Cos., Home Office: 1817 W. Broadway, Columbia, MO 65218 AUJTttjJUILDINGS ffiifflnrttnn I.MI»«'I unmnuli Z07N.Cliir • fritter IMs *ltfli •UflltMtlVH *|H| • JUrptaMtafm ••Wff untie Reserve your copy today! Available Oct. 1, 1996 Downtown News Carroll's CarroUlB & Books Books Music Video Video 204 S. Santa Fe Mid-State Mall Sunset Plaza 9 01996 Warner Home Video. 01996 Wamef Bras, and Universal C«y Stwfcs, he. In Stock Custom Frames Save&Q /O fSf S. SW* 5k SS7-9200 Elks Country Club Special Year End Golf Promotion For A Limited Time Only! For A Limited Time You Can Become A member Of Elks Country Club Golf For Only 6 Payments Of $50 Per Month! (Total Golf Fee Is $300 Plus Your Member Fees) $5.00 Per Round Until April 1,1997 Take Advantage Of Our Pay-As-You-Play Golf Fees Now Until April 1,1997! BUY ONE LUNCH GET ONE FREE! Dining & Banquet. Full Service Facilities. Lunch Served To The Public. Tues thru Sun Expires 10-10-96 Kevin Owens, Club Manager (913) 827-7474 Robert Overgard, PGA Golf Pro (913) 827-8585 Coming this Sunday: Blue-collar hero Dennis Franz has played 28 cops, but it was his NYPD Blue role that brought him two Emmys. Meet the man behind "Andy Sipowicz"...up close and this week's USA WEEKEND. WEEKEND PD B/ue s is nu pretty hoy, lint Ins unU> potvor ib t;iKiii^ TV lcllllil I'J HOW Ili2l!;llti>. Hlb slum lotnnis ii.;,\t wt-ch. Salina Journal $ USA WEEKEND

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