Elizabethtown, KY has always been a small place. Even now, after years of expansion and growth, I still know every back road there is. So it was naturally a surprise when, in autumn of 2005, I heard that a movie was going to be shooting right here in my small town. Enchantment set in, and I immediately did as much research as I could to find out the actors, director, and what their schedules were so I could catch a glimpse of the action.
Imagine my thrill when I found out that not only would the movie feature the handsome Orlando Bloom, but also Kristen Dunst, an idol of mine since “The Virgin Suicides”, but was also being directed by Cameron Crowe, who also directed “Almost Famous”, the movie that introduced me to Elton John, and convinced me I wanted to be a journalist. Cameron Crowe was my idol, a man that grew up in a sublimely middle class neighborhood only miles away from my own, and had risen to create several of the most critically acclaimed movies of all times. This news only heightened my anticipation for the filming crews and stars to get there.
And then the endless stream of vans arrived, and tourists hoping to catch a sight of actors, and roads were blocked off, and traffic went from slightly annoying, to unbearably horrendous. A wave of news crews descended on E-town, clogging streets, and generally badgering the natives for their thoughts and stories about interactions with Orlando and Kristen. My excitement quickly turned into frustration. I kept getting to school late, I almost ran over several movie groupies who didn’t know how to use a cross walk, and as security around the movie set became tighter and tighter for fear of details about the movie plot leaking, I became despaired of ever meeting my idol.
After months of constant tourists and signs reading “road blocked, use alternate route”, I was ready to pack up the entire movie set myself by hand and gently escort them out of Elizabethtown and back to Hollywood. The last month of shooting was the most hectic. People were becoming stirring themselves into a panic to catch a glimpse of starlets, and the filming crew was scrambling to shoot scene retakes.
Then one day, after a study session at the ever classy Rafferty restaurant, I said goodbye to my study partners and walked out the front door, and there, driving slowly down the parking lot, was Cameron Crowe himself. In a moment of awe and what I can only assume was a complete brain shut down, I waved. He smiled and gave a small wave back, driving on, probably wondering why a complete stranger had waved at him. Suddenly the months of headaches and inconvenience was bird food; it meant nothing, and I had gotten a wave from Cameron Crowe, and suddenly everything was right with the world.
Life went back to normal after that, and I can’t say I missed the extra people and cars, but it was all worth it for that small wave.