It was far from an ordinary day at the little coffee shop where I worked. In addition to the usual latte-loving crowd, the place was packed with crews setting up lighting, sound equipment, and cameras. A local movie production crew had descended upon us to film a scene for the movie “Jerusalem Countdown.”
“Jerusalem Countdown” was just the latest movie to be filmed by 10 West Studios, a production company based in my hometown of Manistee, Michigan. Since the opening of 10 West Studios, Manistee has become as much of a hot spot for celeb sightings as Hollywood Boulevard. High-profile visitors to the town in 2010 alone included John Ratzenberger (Cheers), Kevin Sorbo (Hercules), Johnathan Rhys-Davies (“Lord of the Rings”), Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man), Kristy Swanson (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), Debby Ryan (Suite Life On Deck), Larry Joe Campbell (According to Jim), and Renee O’Connor (Xena, Warrior Princess).
I way trying not to stare at the actors. One of them looked really familiar, but I couldn’t figure out where I’d seen his face. The director (and 10 West Studios co-owner), Harold Cronk, walked past. “Harold,” I said, “who is that guy and where have I seen him before?”
Cronk laughed a little as he replied. “That’s Carey Scott. He’s played a lot of roles.” Later that day I would search for Cary Scott on IMDb and realize that I recognized him from his recurring role as Wes Tyson on the television series Walker: Texas Ranger.
Scott sat across a table from Jaci Velasquez, a Christian pop singer best known for her role as Patricia in the popular 2003 movie “Chasing Papi.” The duo was there to shoot a single scene, a few short minutes of dialogue that would take most of the afternoon to capture on film.
It wasn’t long before I had then entire scene memorized. Scott and Velasquez had the same verbal exchange dozens of times, each take with slightly different inflections or body language. “That house is owned by a bank in the Cayman Islands,” Scott said. “Do you know what that means?”
“I don’t care what it means!” hissed Velasquez.
I mouthed the words along with the rest of the coffee shop staff as we hid in the office during shooting. Then, whenever Cronk gave the order to cut, we would fly into action, serving up a whirlwind of mochas and Americanos before someone on the crew yelled out for silence and the cameras started rolling again. As the coffee shop staff filed back into the office to hide again, one of my coworkers, 21-year-old Talia Bullbear, expressed the sentiment we were all feeling: “It’s a good thing movies are more exciting to watch than they are to make!”
A couple of blocks down the street, my father was having a similar experience. He, along with many other locals, had been cast as an extra in the film. A retired State Police officer, it seemed only natural that he was cast as an FBI agent. The scene included one of the film’s biggest stars, country music icon Randy Travis. I asked him what he thought of the experience. “It was interesting,” he said, “but I should have brought something to read!”
After a few days of filming at locations around town, the movie crews went home and life returned to normal. At least, as normal as things get in a small Midwest town that harbors west coast dreams!
IMDb: Carey Scott – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0778931/
IMDb: Jaci Velasquez – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1100853/
IMDb: Randy Travis – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0871430/
IMDb: Jerusalem Countdown – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1562563/
IMDb: Movies filmed in Manistee, Michigan – http://www.imdb.com/search/title?locations=Manistee,%20Michigan,%20USA