Movie brings equal parts excitement, tedium to McGowan

<I>KEVIN HEIMBIGNER photo</I><BR>Some of many extras mill around a movie set on the river bank in south Pacific County last week.

Kiddie carnival and fair set up at old church

McGOWAN - Complete with rustic lemonade signs and a Jolly Choo Choo ride, the carnival at McGowan's St. Mary Church near Chinook appeared authentic.

So much so that passersby pulled off the highway to look around - unaware they were actually wandering onto a set for "The Ring II."

Large drops of rain drizzled down as the movie crew worked on the first shot, which establishes the characters' arrival at, depending on who you talk to, a carnival, flea market, antique show or church bazaar.

Makeup artists ready with a queen's assortment of cosmetics mixed with camera operators, grips and sound technicians.

"You guys come here every week, so remember it's not a big deal for you," Brian Steward, second assistant director, told the 239 local extras as they gathered around for another take.

Quiet all around. Roll it! Scene 58, take 2.

Cars drove down the road. Rachael Keller (Naomi Watts) and Aidan Keller (David Dorfman) turned into the parking lot in a dark blue Jetta. Watts slung a purse over her shoulder and put her arm around the boy. Extras walked past the camera holding hands, clutching a log chair and carrying a bag of crunchy popcorn.

And cut!

Last Wednesday was the biggest day of production since "The Ring II" cast and crew arrived in the area to film the sequel to the scary movie, "The Ring."

According to publicist Alex Worman at least 175 people also worked behind the scenes at the set.

The carnival scene will be approximately four to five minutes of the actual movie, and all involved are tight-lipped about the plot points. During the scene, Aidan is rumored to become separated from his mom. At one point he walks by a spin art booth and the paint turns black, alluding to the evil that has followed the characters to their new home.

Director Hideo Nakata, one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential men, and the crew of over 400 people worked three 12-13 hour days to shoot the five minutes of film. At least as many many hours were needed to create the set and make the myriad of preparations necessary for filming the Dreamworks production.

In addition to the church, the two-week filming spree is spreading into Fort Stevens State Park, downtown Astoria and area neighborhoods.

"It's a positive experience for everyone," executive producer Neil Machlis said. "It's not often that a Hollywood film comes to Astoria."

Machlis, who has worked on such films as "Birdcage," "Garfield," "Grease" and "Primary Colors," said filming the carnival scene, a project that continues through Friday, involves extensive planning.

"There's a lot of equipment and people involved in the sequence," he said. "It takes a lot of coordination and to make sure that when we do shoot we don't get weather that affects us - like today."

He grimaced at the sky, which was causing trouble by alternating between rain and clouds.

"If people's hair is wet and cars are wet, and in the reverse angle they're dry, it won't be good," unit publicist Alex Worman explained.

Wednesday morning from 6 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. there were three takes - all to shoot a 30-second scene. The weather ranged from cloudy to a light rain with misty delays being the norm. Everyone from Watts and Dorfman to the folks who served snacks had to wait on Mother Nature.

Worman who has been publicist for 27 major movies said making films "is hard work without much glamour" and the key ingredient, without a doubt, is patience.

Brenden Ainslie, a 6-year-old extra, has already planned on fame from his cameo appearance, quite certain the movie will travel all around the world.

"We're making a tape today and we're supposed to run straight to the stuff and run to three different places and not do what you're supposed to do," he said.

While Brenden's job is to run off, other movie extras get their faces painted and bob for apples.

La Mar Blackner, a local actor, is in the carnival scene. He said he came for "fame, fortune and little bling bling."

"They film so many movies here I thought it would be good to see what it's all about," he said. "It takes a tremendous amount of time."

A fake restroom, erected to the left of the church, was created for the scene. At first glance, the structure appears to be stone. In actuality, the rocks are fiberglass sheets. The surrounding wood fence was doctored to make it look like there is moss growing on the posts, and the back is held up by oil drums and plywood.

"Yesterday I had too much coffee and ran in there and saw right out the back," said local artist Bill Dodge.

Dodge and 20 other vendors from the Astoria Sunday Market signed contracts to appear in the scene.

"It gives (the market) some extra panache that some of us were selected to be in it," he said.

Dodge, who was born on a movie set, came prepared with books and magazines in case he got bored. But he spent most of his time talking with other vendors and people from the crew, who he said were very welcoming. He said he's had a good time keeping track of all the action.

"It's kind of fun to see the rumor and innuendo of what happens, and then what you get on the screen," he said.

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