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Montgomery Advertiser

Local News-Nov. 10, 2002

Residents line up for shot to land their 'Big' break

By Darryn Simmons
Montgomery Advertiser

Would-be celebrities from the Capital City and as far away as Florida converged on the old Cloverdale Community Center on Saturday looking for their 15 minutes of fame -- and got a bit more than they expected.

Hundreds of people arrived at the site hoping to be chosen as extras for the movie "Big Fish" at an open casting call at the school. Some of those who came out were treated to a surprise as the film's director Tim Burton ("Beetlejuice," "Batman") stopped by. Slowly but surely people noticed the director's presence and approached him for autographs and just to shake his hand -- both of which Burton readily accommodated.

"I just had to talk to him because he's my favorite director," said Chris Jones, of Montgomery.

Others wanted to thank the director for bringing his film to Montgomery.

"It's a pretty big deal to have such a large movie here," said Darrell Sullivan of Prattville.

Lines circled the former Cloverdale Junior High School as hundreds filled out forms and got their picture and measurements taken. People in line arrived as early as 7:00 a.m. for the casting call that lasted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The movie, which will be filmed in the Montgomery area from mid-January through May, will use about 6,000 extras.

Despite the long lines, the process moved fairly quickly. Most people spent less than two hours in line before they made it into the school gym.

"Time moved a lot faster than I thought it would," said Kim Dometrovich, who drove down from Birmingham with a couple of her friends.

"I've never done anything like this before and it sounded like something fun to do."

Tracy Kilpatrick, the casting call coordinator, said film officials were pleased with the turnout.

"It's fabulous," she said. "We've gotten a really good response, and everyone seems really anxious and eager."

Kilpatrick spread the word about the casting call throughout the state and to some bordering states in hopes of attracting the number of people who will be needed.

"We even got an application from someone in Alaska," she said. "I have no idea how they found out about it."

David Holmes drove up from the Pensacola, Fla., area with some friends after they learned about the casting call on television.

"It's a chance to be in a big movie and it was a fun little road trip so we figured why not," he said. "It's been a pretty smooth process."

Kilpatrick said that the recruitment is still ongoing.

"With people's availability and so many people needed, we know this is going to take some time," she said. "There will be a lot of people that will get their opportunity."

Some extras will be featured and some could have speaking roles, Kilpatrick said.

The movie has scenes set from the 1940s to now so a lot of different people will be needed.

"We need people of all kinds -- sizes, races, young, old you name it," Kilpatrick said.

If Saturday's casting call is any indication, that may not be a problem. Men, women, children came out in force. Many came as entire families.

Demetria Scott of Montgomery brought her three children, James, 14, Shana, 10 and Chris, 7, to the casting call.

"It would be pretty interesting if we all got cast," she said. "I missed the opportunity to be in the 'Rosa Parks Story' when it was filmed here so I wanted to make sure me and my children got a chance to this time."

In addition to being directed by Burton, the film also features Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor, Billy Crudup and Jessica Lange.

Having McGregor and Crudup attached to the film helped attract young women to the casting call.

"I just want to be in the same area as him (McGregor)," said Jessica Anderson, 19, from Wetumpka. "Being in a movie and being near him would definitely be enough for me."