GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

The Perfect Storm: The Story of the Andrea Gail

June 3, 2008

The Perfect Extras

This is an inside report on the St. Ann Church funeral scene from "The Perfect Storm" filming; inside because it was compiled from what went on inside the church. I will omit all the boilerplate details of the bus rides from Stage Fort Park and the hours spent standing in line to register, to get your costume OK'd by wardrobe, and to get minimal makeup, if needed.

All who drove past could see there were huge, long banks of tables installed for the waiting, eating, changing and processing of 900 men, women and children "movie stars." Oops, did I almost forget to mention the 50 porta-potties all in a big curving line around the inside perimeter of St. Ann's playground? You still had to wait. The calls to arrive were all over the place. Some were told 6 a.m., some 7, 8:30 or 9. I arrived at 10 and things hadn't progressed very far. But by 11, they processed the people into the church, spreading them out through the sides in no particular pattern.

Now, this might come down to the "image" the filmmakers have of our Fishtown, but when we went through wardrobe, they kept "downdressing" the men, taking us out of our suits and putting us in flannel workshirts and sweatshirts or blue jeans. They mentioned that this is how they thought fishermen would go to a funeral. So the whole tableau inside was a mixture of formal and workclothes. I think there was some headscratching by the participants over that.

But once inside the beautiful St. Ann's, and loaded, they began the procedure. First thing they did absolutely surprised everybody in there.

Two gigantic smoke machines began belching out blue-ish, gray smoke in blinding amounts. This smoke was routed toward huge fans that shot it up to the uppermost reaches of the cavernous church. This was as powerful, huge banks of white, blinding lights were aimed at all angles of the church, giving the scene that "movie set look." They never said what the smoke was for, but I learned later it was to cut the glare of the interior lighting. Every fourth take or so, they released another barrage of smoke. The poor choir was right in the path of the smoke, plus the temperature was much higher at the top of the church.

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The Perfect Storm: The Story of the Andrea Gail