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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

We Are... Marshall

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Hundreds of extras converge on the set of WE ARE MARSHALL (May 2006).


The Warner Bros. feature WE ARE MARSHALL tells the tale of the 1970 plane crash that killed all 75 passengers including most of the Marshall University football players and coaches. The film just wrapped filming in nearby Huntington, WV (and now continues in Atlanta) and is helmed by director McG, of CHARLIE'S ANGELS and THE OC fame. WE ARE MARSHALL stars Matthew McConaughey (FAILURE TO LAUNCH, A TIME TO KILL), Oscar-nominee David Strathairn (GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK), Matthew Fox (LOST), Kate Mara (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN), Ian McShane (DEADWOOD, LOVEJOY), Anthony Mackie (8 MILE), Brian Geraghty (JARHEAD), January Jones (AMERICAN WEDDING) and one very special stand-in... yours truly (GORILLA WARFARE: BATTLE OF THE APES).

I submitted my res/headshot a couple of months ago and hadn't heard back from anyone so two days out from shooting, I figured that was that. Well, a few weeks ago I get a call on my cell five minutes before we're slated to go live for the 5:00 news. The casting agent asked me if I would be a stand-in for Brian Geraghty ("Fergus" from JARHEAD). I met her with an eager "hell yes" and the adventure began! Now, at this point, I didn't know whether or not I'd be a stand-in only or if I would get the chance to actually photo double (you know, the "Hey, that’s the back of my head" kind of thing) so my mind was spinning. I mean, this was awesome news but guess what? I had to get off of the phone because it was time for the news! Damnit!! It was like having Ed McMahon hand me a check and say, "Congratulations, Brice Kennedy! You've just won ten million dollars! Now stand still and be completely silent for an hour and a half." Are you kidding me?!?

So after my torturous hour and a half of running camera for the evening news, I immediately ran to the producer's computer and began looking up everything I could on the production, actors, crew and tried to research my "odds" of photo-doubling versus standing-in. I had WORK to do! At any rate, this wasn't my first time on a large-scale production like this but this WAS my first show where I stood within 20 feet of a major Hollywood director for nearly the entire shoot. Being a stand-in for a major feature like this is an amazing experience. It's really the ultimate filmmaking internship. I mean, I'm standing in the same tent as the director and producers, walking by and sharing a casual smile with David Freakin' Strathairn, meeting Brian Geraghty, etc. The networking possibilities were endless and you can bet I made the most of it.

The absolute highlight of the shoot came in two parts. One night, we were shooting from 9PM until 4 in the morning on a closed off section of Fourth Avenue downtown and I was standing in for Ian McShane (DEADWOOD, LOVEJOY). Another stand-in, Mark, and I had a 9PM call time and were the only ones slated to arrive then. He ended up showing up a bit later so it looked as if I might get to make a solo grand entrance! After heading over to wardrobe to get color-covered and the usual confusion regarding where exactly to report, I found Chad from casting and he ushered me off to the set. The crowd was unreal. There were hundreds of Huntington residents lining the streets, heads hanging out of windows, filling up the parking garage across the street - talk about an audience! So Chad from casting and I, with my coat on a hanger tucked under my arm, pushed our way through the crowd toward the yellow tape where the set was marked off. As we ducked under to go on set, I must have gotten a hundred onlookers staring at me and even a few gasps! Talk about feeling like a star! Of course no one knew who I was. They only knew that some crewmember was ushering this actor onto the set so he MUST have been someone! Granted, they might have seen PETER ROTTENTAIL or BLACK MASS but I kinda doubt it. :)

Later that night came the other highlight – I had the privilege of being personally directed by McG. Mark and I were blocking out a scene and I was to turn my head slightly to the left and walk about twenty paces toward the Steadicam operator. It was brief but memorable to be able to introduce myself to McG and have him personally direct me through the scene. Ahhh, could this be a preview of things to come when I leave the Mountain State for filmier pastures?

The two questions everyone keeps asking me over the last few weeks are:

1) “Did you get to meet Matthew McConaughey?” (queried most often by members of the female persuasion)

… and 2) Will I be able to see you in it?

Well, I didn't meet Matthew as his scenes were wrapped before mine even started, but I did spot him near his trailer, about 20 feet away, talking to someone from wardrobe. Number two: although you won't see me in the film (no photo double work unfortunately), you will see my name in the credits as long as they don’t cut stand-in credits, which does happen.

Anyway, the whole experience was truly a highlight of my acting career and has completely reinvigorated me with regard to my acting and filmmaking. You know, there's a creative ebb and flow that occurs with actors, filmmakers, musicians, visual artists, etc. It's not that I've felt as I were in a rut or anything but I haven't been very proactive lately with acting. Well, with this experience fresh in my mind and all of the contacts and “education” I've now acquired, I think I've filled my creative tank for a long time to come. In fact, I've been thinking for some time now about heading out to southern California when I finish my bachelor's (in about a year and half, knock on wood). Well you know, if you’re going to do something, you may as well do it right. So I’m planning on moving not to the safer, more affordable and “realistically-sensible” city of Oceanside. No, if I’m heading to Californ-I-A, it's going to be to the City of Angels, baby! Brice Kennedy in Los Angeles! Bachelor’s or not, it’ll no doubt be a humbling step back in standard-of-living. Rent will be twice as high for a place a third as spacious and likely shared with a roommate but hey – that’s the adventure, right? Anyway, it’s a little early to go into a lot of detail but that is the plan as I see it.

Also, I'm gearing up to finally make my directorial splash this summer with a short film or two featuring some familiar faces and the possibility of being incorporated into an anthology for DVD release. Just a possibility but stay tuned.

WE ARE MARSHALL is on track for a theatrical release sometime in December and will premiere in Los Angeles... and Huntington. :) My IMDb credit is already live!

WE ARE MARSHALL's IMDb listing

WE ARE MARSHALL On Set Photos