Community participates in feature film
By Jordan Veith
Photo by Jordan Veith
Extras gather at Stansbury Theatre of Lawrence University
to take part in the filming of Long Live the Squirrels.
Multiple locations in Appleton hosted the filming of Long Live the Squirrels, as many local students and community members participated in the filming of the new feature.
The film follows the story of music group The Squirrels, who had a one hit wonder in the 1960s. The story focuses on the awakening of The Squirrels from a frozen state 50 years into the future, after disappearing mid-flight during a world tour. The group must affirm their popularity in order to evade arrest for back taxes by the IRS.
"Two years ago, Tom Hurvis [an executive producer]... decided to put together a new film center and gave us the funds to build a new studio and editing facilities and everything... the idea was to give students a chance to work alongside professionals. We have professionals from L.A., from Chicago, from Minneapolis, and some of the cast is local cast. We tried to hire as much local people as we could." Catherine Tatge, artist in residence for the Film Center and producer of Long Live the Squirrels, said.
Hotspots in Appleton were chosen for scenes throughout the movie including the Building for Kids, Appleton Center, and various storefronts. Most of the filming was done on campus at Lawrence University.
Not only were local areas chosen for production, members of the community were asked to be a part of the movie as extras in numerous large crowd and concert scenes.
"We wanted to get a really good intergenerational mix because the group [The Squirrels] was from the sixties…[we wanted people] from the sixties generation, we wanted to have people who remembered The Squirrels and then the younger generation who, you know [The Squirrels] are back and they're playing this first concert. So really we have all generations," Tatge said.
Flyers were put out at local campuses and throughout Appleton, inviting students to be extras to be in a feature film, as well as have the chance to win a guitar from Heid music and t-shirts featuring the film's title.
One scene was filmed at Stansbury Theatre of Lawrence University where nearly 250 students and community members volunteered as extras.
Extras were expected to dress in normal, 'concert' type clothing and willing to give up some free time to prepare for filming.
"Extras will be seeing professionals who do this for a living and are experts at what they do... the scenes involve a rock band from the 1960s putting on a concert and trying to revive their long dormant career... there will be group cheering and booing going on," Barbara Stack, associate vice president of major and planned giving for Lawrence University said.
Extras were able to experience working alongside professionals and being part of a feature film.
"I wanted to just be in a movie, I thought it would be really cool," younger generation extra Aaron Ruth said.
"It was a great experience, but a long one. I think a majority of people don't understand the amount of time and effort that goes into movies. We shot the same scene numerous times from several different angles, but in doing so everything had to be set up for that shot, so there was a lot of waiting. I never got too close to the actors, but seeing them work really gives you an appreciation for what they do... recognizing someone who you've seen on the big screen is always a really exciting moment," freshman Geoff Pritzl said.
The experience proved worthwhile to voluntary extras and students involved.
"I can speak for my students, I think it's been a fantastic experience for them. A lot of them really have no idea how much work goes into making a feature and they've embraced this project and really tried to learn from everybody," Tatge said.
Appleton has also become the center of appreciation from those involved with the movie.
"Everybody has been so warm and hospitable to everybody shooting the film and acting in it, so the impression has been great," executive producer Tom Hurvis said.
Filming in Appleton ended on Oct. 12 and the film is currently in post-production. Long Live the Squirrels is expected to be released in 2014.