The crew was coming from Victoria and riding in the bus as it pulled up around 2:30 p.m. to an awaiting group of locals, ranging from ages 14 to 90.
Everyone met at the Country Villa mobile home community with one of the residents actually walking out to see what was happening and joining the film as an extra.
Edwin Wallek, Jr. was one of the locals waiting out in the sweltering Texas heat. Turns out, he’s done a bit of acting work in the past.
“Probably 10 years ago, I was in a JC Penney store, and I saw a photographer with a TV camera come up, and they looked like they were going to shoot a commercial for JC Penney,” Wallek remembered.
“And I was standing around, and I was talking to the cameraman, and the producer came up, and she said, ‘Hey, you want to be in a commercial?’
“I said, ‘Yeah, what do I have to do?’ She said, ‘Just stand over here and put this hat on your head.’ And that’s what I did.
“And a few weeks later it aired, and everyone called me and said, ‘Hey, I saw you on TV!’
“It was just something, you know. I was at the right place at the right time.”
Rachel Sherman, another Beevillian, showed up with her daughter from Dallas to help out. And as it turns out, she’s been on TV, too.
“I got to be on a talk show and got to go to New York for the Charles Perez show,” Sherman said.
“It started as a little piece, and we ended up taking on the whole show,” she added with a laugh.
“It was fun seeing behind the scenes, and then you’re right there by the audience. You don’t see all that sitting at home on your couch.
“We flew in, and they had a limousine waiting for us. We stayed right there in Central Park. It was exciting; I loved it.”
The film is about James, a 42-year-old radical outsider living in Seattle. He makes a desperate call to an old friend, Kayli, who he hasn’t seen in more than 20 years. When sparks begin to fly between the two, James abandons the Northwest and makes a three-day bus to see her in Shelton, Texas. There they hope to reconnect after 20 years and help each other out with their disheveled lives.
The scene that was filmed that day involved the main character riding on a bus as it passed in front of the Garza East and West prison units just outside of Beeville.
R.W. Dirks, Jr. was another local who began chatting with the director about his experiences on previous films in between takes. He was then asked to sit next to the main actor and just chat with him about Beeville for the entire scene.
He did a number of takes and ad-libbed all of his lines with the director picking out pieces to have him elaborate on.
Viewers will have to wait and see if he makes the final cut.
After nearly four hours of driving back and forth in front of the prison, something happened that everyone hoped wouldn’t but some had pretty much expected.
The group had caught the attention of the local police officers and state troopers.
After all, a huge white bus driving back and forth in front of a prison was sure to raise a few eyebrows. And, eventually, they were pulled over and questioned but let go with a few laughs and handshakes.
Everyone who showed up for the shoot ended up becoming fast friends, and some may be featured in the film as they were asked to move to various locations in the bus to populate the background.
There is no release date for the film, but Perry promised to let everyone know when and where they can see it.
Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.