The cameras began rolling Thursday in Macon for the movie 42, the Jackie Robinson biopic thats filming in Macon for the next two weeks.
The crew began shooting scenes at a gas station on Upper River Road just across the Jones County line, using Northeast High School as a staging area.
About 300 crew members will be staying in Macon over the next two weeks to film scenes at Luther Williams Field, Central City Park, Terminal Station and other locations around Macon, said Ernie Malik, the movies publicist.
42 tells the life story of Robinson, the baseball Hall of Famer who broke the sports color barrier in 1947. Robinson wore No. 42 on his jersey, which has since been retired by Major League Baseball.
The movie stars newcomer Chadwick Boseman and features a cast that includes Harrison Ford, Christopher Meloni, Lucas Black, Jon Bernthal and others as members of the Brooklyn Dodgers organization that Robinson joined. The movie is written and directed by Academy Award winner Brian Helgeland.
Several Middle Georgians who applied to be unpaid extras wont be part of the cast, however. In an e-mail Thursday to people who had signed up to be extras, the company handling the casting -- Southern Hollywood Events -- informed them the production would no longer be using unpaid extras.
The e-mail said a second casting company, CL Casting, would be casting for paid extras for filming scheduled for June 11-12. People interested in applying for those casting spots should e-mail three head and body pictures, plus age, height, weight and contact information to CLCastingMacon@gmail.com.
Robert Burnham, a Macon certified public accountant, was a local selected to be an unpaid extra next week before receiving Thursdays e-mail.
Burnham said he was disappointed, because he searched for period-specific clothes and was hoping to meet members of the cast.
Im in local community theater, he said. I was especially hoping to meet Chris Meloni, because Im a big (Law & Order:) SVU fan, and Harrison Ford, of course.
Burnham said he was supposed to be in a crowd scene that was to have been shot at Luther Williams Field next week. While he submitted his information to be a paid extra, he isnt sure hell be selected or if he will be able to take off that much time from work.
Thursday, city officials closed off parts of Central City Park to prepare for Friday shooting. People not associated with the film wont be able to go past barricades that have been set up next to the Round Building, nor enter the park from the back entrance.
The crew and city workers have made modifications to the baseball stadium, changing the name to City Island Ballpark, located in Daytona Beach, Fla., and has since been renamed in honor of Robinson. The scenes reportedly involve Robinsons first spring training with the Dodgers.
The crew also is using one of the local softball fields as a practice field in the movie. Workers replaced the fenced-in dugouts with wooden dugouts to give the field an authentic feel.
According to a contract signed between the city and the movie production company, producers put down a refundable $10,000 deposit to use Central City Park. The producers are paying the city a total of $17,500 to use Luther Williams Field, a softball field and two buildings in the park for catering services.
Bibb County school system officials said Thursday the production company will pay the district up to $1,000 for using Northeast High School, school custodians and campus police officers, depending on how long the crew is at the school.
After the crew is finished shooting at Central City Park, it will shoot scenes at Terminal Station, which is being re-made to double as a New Orleans airport, Malik said. The production company will pay the city $7,600 to rent the station for five days of preparation work, one day of filming and three days of wrap-up work.
The shooting will cause some street closures, Malik said. Macon police spokeswoman Jami Gaudet said Thursday she hasnt received a schedule about road closures.
With 42 shooting here less than two months after another baseball-themed movie, Trouble With The Curve, shot in Macon, the city has emerged as a potential go-to site, especially since Curve stars Clint Eastwood.
Monica Smith, president and CEO of the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said she hasnt received a count of how many hotel rooms the 42 crew will be using during its stay, but she expects the movie to have a significant economic impact.
We know the impact is there, she said. Whenever (a large group comes to town), it always generates significant revenue. If theyre eating breakfast, lunch and dinner here at local restaurants, or using local caterers, that definitely has an impact. You also hope theyre buying stuff ... to take home to their families. ... Its all positive from an economic and tourism perspective.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.