Feature film shot on WestConn campus to open in August
WCSU, Bethel Cinema to host local premiere at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 6
DANBURY, CONN. — Anticipation is growing at Western Connecticut State University for the Wednesday, Aug. 6, theatrical release of “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” (STP2). Why would a movie geared to young teens cause such excitement on a college campus? Because WestConn’s Midtown campus in Danbury serves as a backdrop for several of the film’s scenes.
To celebrate, WestConn and Bethel Cinema will host a premiere party at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 6, at Bethel Cinema, 269 Greenwood Ave. in Bethel. Students with valid I.D. will enjoy discounted movie tickets and popcorn/drink combos. There will be free movie merchandise while supplies last, and two local residents who were cast as extras will be on hand to discuss their experiences.
A little over a year ago, WestConn faculty, staff and students were bitten by the movie bug as the production rolled onto campus. Vacant parking lots were overtaken by a sea of equipment, hair and makeup trailers, and campers for the stars. Meeting rooms were transformed into holding areas for dozens of actors and wanna-be actors, hoping to land a role as an extra in the film. Night became day as massive flood lights were hoisted up on cranes to shine through the windows of art studios on the third floor of White Hall. Banners bearing the WCSU insignia were replaced with newly created ones intended to replicate the logo of the Rhode Island School of Design.
For much of a week in mid-July, production assistants scurried across the quad, preventing people from accidentally wandering into the middle of a shot. Camera operators stood patiently as planes en route to Danbury Airport flew overhead or fire trucks raced down White Street. When one day was grey, crew members held giant white panels to reflect more light onto stars Alexis Bledel and Michael Rady as they walked across the campus in a scene.
STP2 enthusiasts blogged excitedly as filming occurred in several parts of the state, suggesting the best places for star sightings. It was hard not to get caught up in the excitement.
That was especially true for the lucky few who were selected as extras. WestConn student Emily Fromm, a senior from Monroe, appeared in several scenes shot outside WestConn’s Student Center. Rebecca Hill, a senior at Bethel High School, did too.
WestConn President James W. Schmotter and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton also captured cameos, walking briskly across the quad carrying briefcases in several scenes. Will these scenes ultimately be projected across movie screens nationwide, or did some fall to the dreaded cutting-room floor?
Schmotter was philosophical about his brush with fame. “While WCSU is identified as the Rhode Island School of Design, this is still exciting for us,” he said. “The director’s choosing of our Midtown campus as a ‘typical academic setting’ confirms our belief that our physical environment does indeed resemble the private institutions against which we benchmark. Mayor Mark Boughton and I may appear as extras in some scenes. We are meant to be teachers. Given our backgrounds, that’s good typecasting.”
Hill said when watching the recently released “Fool’s Gold” DVD last month, she “screamed with excitement” when a trailer for STP2 came on and she saw herself. “I couldn’t believe that I was on the big screen, even if it was only for one second,” she said. “Most people don’t get this kind of opportunity and it was really enjoyable to meet the cast.”
Fromm added that she had heard from a number of friends who saw the trailer running in local theaters before “Sex and the City” that she’s in the background in one of the scenes with Alexis Bledel. “All of my family and friends are excited,” Fromm said. “Even the guys, who typically might not pay to see a film like this, are planning to do so,” she laughed.
For more information, call the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486, visit www.bethelcinema.com or www.wcsu.edu.
Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.