By Kevin Wilson
With the cooperation of the weather, the crew for “Believe in Me” had its final day of shooting in Portales turn out to be one of its better ones.
A sunny, cloudless Wednesday marked the final day of shooting in Portales, and all that remains for shooting in the area is a pair of weekend shooting days at Clovis’ Rock Staubus Gymnasium.
But first, the actors, producers and other crew members said good morning, good afternoon and good night to a two-block segment of S. Main St. in Portales, which had been modified to resemble Sayre, Okla. — the town where Jim Keith coached in the true story “Brief Garland,” which has been adapted into “Believe in Me.”
“It’s pretty great (weather),” director John Manulis said. “We’ve had our share of off-days, so we’re very appreciative of these days.”
Many of the mid-afternoon scenes were simple scenes of people walking or driving through the area, with little speaking involved. Away from filming, there was a culture mix as actors and actresses wearing 1960s clothing talked with bystanders wearing current clothing.
In the background were buildings recreated as grocery stores, barbershops and hardware stores.
“I think it’s very good,” Don Criss said of the scenery. “Really, this part of Portales hasn’t changed much since I got here in 1962.”
Criss said he is playing Mr. Selman, the father of one of the basketball players. Criss’ wife, Paula, has a speaking role in the movie.
Criss admitted that he never read “Brief Garland,” but was impressed with the script for “Believe in Me.”
“It’s an excellent story,” Criss said. “Anytime you have a story about a real person who did somthing good for the people around them, it’s probably a good story.”
It wasn’t only local actors and actresses involved. Dan Moseley of Albuquerque could have been intimidating as a real-life police officer with his 6-foot-4 frame, but he was most often making friendly conversation when he wasn’t playing Sheriff Ora Blessinggame.
Moseley was happy just to have another chance at acting so close to home. Moseley said that he had done a few guest roles in television series, but has been a stay-at-home father since moving from California to Albuquerque eight years ago.
“It’s a funny thing because I haven’t been away from the kids since they were little,” Moseley said. “My wife talked me into doing it, my kids talked me into doing it.”
Workers in businesses in the area, for the most part, didn’t mind the extra traffic of people for the movie. Trisha Gibson and Betty Beckwith, who work at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, said it was worth being up at 4 a.m. to host breakfast for the crew.
“It’s different,” Gibson said — the post’s parking lot was full of equipment trailers instead of member vehicles. “It’s not normally something we have here.”
“They (movie crew) were very friendly and were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” Beckwith said.
The people making the biggest adjustments might have been the people involved with the movie. Manulis receives countless cellular phone calls during the day because different parts of the movie are happening across the country.
“There’s a lot of production in different cities that has to be coordinated,” said Manulis, who had a notebook section devoted to which New Mexico cities have which cellular phone towers. “There’s a lot of things that (still) work best on a face-to-face basis.”
The weather also helped out for the time period of the movie, which included drought conditions. It was a frustrating process when Portales received large amounts of rain a few weeks ago.
“One of the challenges is foresight,” Manulis said. “You fall in love with certain things in mid-July and you try to find out what it means in October.”
The last part of shooting is one of the bigger opportunities for extras. Angelique Midthunder, the extras casting director, said that the weekend scenes in Clovis would be set at the state championships.
“This is the biggest game. This is Clovis’ one and only opportunity to be a part of the movie,” Midthunder said. “Because we need so many people, the prizes are bigger and better.”
Prizes include a 2004 Ford Escape, a Honda all-terrain vehicle, a trip for four to Disney World and other miscellaneous items.
The rules for dress are the same as with the scenes shot in Portales recently (i.e. flannel shirts and jeans or khakis for men, blouses and knee-length skirts for women). Other rules include clothing without names or logos and clothing that isn’t red. Midthunder said the no-red rule is a standard for filmmaking.
“Red just draws the eye and it takes you away from the action,” Midthunder said. “It’s usually a color you’ll see on a principal actor or not at all.”