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Giant Break: Crew sets up shop to film movie at coliseum

Author : Mark Burger

First published at Journal Now on 24th September 2005

Be sure to read the ORIGINAL ARTICLE


The scoreboard in Joel Coliseum this weekend reads: "Welcome to Indianapolis!"

Long - and still - the home of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, the coliseum is currently home to the Indiana high-school basketball championship - at least on film. Writer/director Rusty Gorman is making his first feature film, Home of the Giants, in the Piedmont Triad, and the production is looking for extras to cheer on the mythical team at the center of the movie.

To bolster the crowd at the basketball games, the production also has more than 1,000 inflatable dummies, dressed in the respective schools' team colors, and positioned throughout the coliseum by production assistants. On the upper levels, cardboard standees replicate human fans.

"They are the most cooperative actors," joked Amber Smith, the film's extras coordinator. "They're here all weekend. They don't need food or pay, and they're always smiling. They're not very good at remembering lines, however."

But, said co-producer Jessica Koller, you can't beat the real thing. Anyone who wants to cheer on the Giants as an extra can do so today and Sunday. Potential extras can arrive at the coliseum about 1 p.m. Filming is expected to continue into the evening on both days.

"We're encouraging people to come out throughout the day - the earlier the better and the more people the better," she said.

For each extra who reports and stays all day (12 hours), the production will donate $5 to the Red Cross on behalf of the victims of Hurricane Katrina. There will also be raffles and other incentives to keep the extras during setups.

Haley Joel Osment, a nominee for an Academy Award for The Sixth Sense (1999), stars in the film as a high-school reporter who follows the Giants as they make their championship run. The film also stars Ryan Merriman (Taken, The Ring Two) as the team's star player and Danielle Panabaker (Empire Falls, Sky High) as a fellow journalism student.

Rebecca Clark, the director of the Piedmont Triad Film Commission who helped coordinate pre-production of the film, was at the coliseum yesterday. "We've got some good things going on, and this is one of them," she said.

Home of the Giants will be the first production to reap benefits from a state film-incentives program that was recently put into final form. The program offers a 15 percent rebate to filmmakers who shoot in North Carolina. Even before the incentives, however, regional and statewide production has been remarkably steady.

"North Carolina has a lot to offer, and, thanks to the incentives, I think more filmmakers will come here to make movies," said Charles Grimes, both the producer of the film and the chairman of the board of the film commission.

Gorman, a longtime basketball enthusiast who himself hails from Indiana, said that the film "isn't really about basketball, so it's a different perspective from other sports films. It's about the difference between friends and heroes. It's really a coming-of-age story."

Gorman described Osment, his 17-year-old leading man, as "brilliant."

"I feel really blessed that he took the role," he said. "He, Ryan and Danielle are the best things that happened to us.

"All three of them are going to have major careers. Haley's already got one, and Ryan and Danielle are coming up fast. Working with them has been great."

After this weekend, Home of the Giants will have reached the midway point in principal production, but you can't call it halftime.

"There is no halftime on a movie set," said Gorman with a smile. "There's no downtime."

• For information about participating as an extra, call the Extras Hotline at 232-5913.

• Mark Burger can be reached at 727-7370 or at


Be sure to read the ORIGINAL ARTICLE

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