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Posted on Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 10:11 a.m.

Flippin' out, part two

By Heather Heath Chapman

For more of this story, please see part one, in which I narrowly miss seeing Rob Reiner and my daughter is cast as an extra in Flipped, which is filming in Ann Arbor this summer.

“‘The movie Flipped is set during the period between 1955 and 1963.’”

My daughter was reading her e-mail aloud as we careened down Wagner Road.

“‘You will play an important role in this movie. The reward will be great, but the expectations will be high.’ What does that mean?”

“I think it means, ‘Don’t be 15 minutes late to your costume fitting,’” I grumbled, making a violent right turn.

The Ann Arbor headquarters of Flipped was tucked into a nondescript industrial park on the west side of town. The building—when we finally found it—looked deceptively small from the outside. Inside, it was open and airy and filled with interesting things: A big, rounded school bus. Vintage cars with shiny fins swishing out behind. Carpenters and sawdust and the smell of new wood. And, in a back room, racks and racks of costumes.

No Rob Reiner, though.

The costume mavens eyeballed my daughter and began whipping clothes off the racks, two and three hangers at a time. For the next hour, she modeled blouses and skirts and old, fragile dresses. Everything she tried on looked like something my grandmother would have sewn and my mother would have worn, long ago.

Once her wardrobe had been chosen, we headed for the paperwork table, where a friendly guy with a deep tan gave us a few instructions. He explained about “action” and “cut,” and he told my daughter not to look directly into the movie camera. He said that there would be forms to fill out every day, and that we would receive my daughter’s paychecks by mail. I glanced over and watched her realize that she would actually be paid for her work as an extra. A smile spread slowly across her face, and her eyes lit up with neon dollar signs.

And so, our first day behind the scenes of Flipped was as cool as we’d hoped it would be.

The second day promised to be very cool as well. We didn’t get lost on the way to the set location, which was a middle school in Saline. We found the “extras holding” area right away. (It was a gymnasium full of folding chairs.) And, at one end of extras holding, there was a craft services table loaded with breakfast pastries.

“Donuts!” my daughter squealed, and ran to them. I crossed the gymnasium to stand in the check-in line behind 40 other extras and their guardians.

After the check-in line, there was the costume line. Then, once my daughter was dressed, there was the hair and makeup line. And, after her hair was pulled back into the shiniest, sleekest ponytail ever, there was the prop line, where she received an old book and a “sack lunch.”

We’d entered extras holding at 8:45. By the time we were finished standing in all four lines, it was 11:00, and the gymnasium was filled with anachronisms—girls in pencil skirts and sweater sets, boys in high-water pants with their hair slicked savagely to the side. A guy with a megaphone called all of the extras to the front of the gym, and a collective “ooooh!” went up from the crowd of kids and parents. My daughter started forward, but before she could go, I clutched her slender arm.

“When you get back, you have to tell me everything,” I said. She promised that she would.

Megaphone Guy shepherded the kids out of the gym and down a dark hallway that ended in a flood of blinding light. I watched my daughter walk away, toward the light, and, presumably, toward Rob Reiner. Then, I went to check out the craft services table.

By that time, the donuts and bagels had been picked over. I figured that lunch would be served soon, so I decided to take a stroll around extras holding. That didn’t take long. The other parents were working on their knitting projects and their crossword puzzles, and no one seemed interested in becoming my new on-set friend. Sigh. It probably would have been prudent to bring a book, but I had figured that I’d be busy with all of the glamour and whatnot.

11:25. The kids were still gone.

11:30. Megaphone Guy walked back into extras holding, sans kids.

11:35. It smelled like lunch would be lasagna, maybe. When I walked up to the buffet tables, a grouchy craft services lady told me to “step away.”

11:45. I peeked into the hallway. A woman with a clipboard asked me to “please remain in extras holding.”

12:00. The kids still weren’t back. Also, I was starving.

12:10. Apparently, there had been a vegetable tray, but by the time I got the news, all that was left were two carrot sticks and a smudge of ranch dressing.

12:15. It occurred to me that we’d probably have to stand in all the same lines at the end of the day—just in reverse order.

12:20. I started to wonder whether the “craft” in “craft services” was an acronym for “Can’t Really Afford Food Today.”

12:30. It was official. Extras holding was the most boring place on earth.

12:31. The kids streamed back into the gymnasium.

My daughter was flushed and giddy. She’d spent the last hour and a half pretending to walk to class. Yes, she’d had fun. Yes, there were cameras, and someone actually yelled, “Rolling!” at the beginning of each take.

“But did you see Rob Reiner?” I asked.

“The whole time!” she said.

“What does he look like?” I asked.

“The same as on t.v!” she said.

“Did you talk to him?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “But, he smiled at me. And one time, his arm accidentally brushed against mine when I was standing near some lockers.”

“Listen up!” Megaphone Guy shouted. The kids were going outside, where they would pretend to board a school bus. My daughter scooped up her props and followed the crowd with just a quick backwards glance in my direction.

And there it was. Prior to that day, my girl had known of Rob Reiner solely from his guest appearance on Wizards of Waverly Place; and now, she was headed off to rub elbows with him. Literally! I, on the other hand, had prepared the perfect conversation starter in case I ever met Rob Reiner. (Either I would tell him that “this one goes to 11,” or I would shout at him that he couldn’t handle the truth.)

But I was alone, gnawing on the last carrot stick in extras holding.

Next week: Flippin' Out, The Final Installment


Sam Nead

Sat, Aug 15, 2009 : 8:08 a.m.

Nice picture of your daughter 'in costume'. I'm sure I speak for a few when I say I can't wait for the movie to come out. The ongoing narrative is great. I'll be back next week!


Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : noon

It really isn't fair that we have to wait until next week for the Final Installment. Are you trying to make us feel the way you did in the gym? Okay.. that's a good strategy.

Mr. Underhill

Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 11:56 a.m.

I bet you could give Rob Reiner a run for his money. You certainly understand the concept of "Leave them wanting more." I haven't been this interested in a trilogy since Lord of the Rings.

Ann Arbor mom

Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 10:44 a.m.

DId you ever get some lasagna??


Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 10:34 a.m.

Carrott gnawing mom: My expectations were high I was not let down I eagerly anticipate The Final Installment H!