Mark Wilmes, the editor of the The Tyler Tribute (the local newspaper), in his typical style, wrote an entertaining piece for the paper a few weeks ago that we thought would be fun to share.

2016_09_25-mark-wilmesThis is Mark.

Oh and did we tell you there is pie?

I’d like to think I’m the same down-to-earth person I was last week at this time. I suppose there are some subtle changes to the trained eye, but I feel like being in the white-hot glare of the movie business hasn’t affected how I treat the “little people.”

Others seem to be handling the transition well. From the talk I heard over the weekend, there have probably been about a hundred Tyler and Lake Benton area residents who have been rounded up to play extras in the “Hap and Ashley” movie that is being shot in the area. You may have read about the filming in the Tyler paper over the past couple of months. Tyler native Kathy Swanson and her husband Vince O’Connell have been shooting a feature film in the area.

I’ve been helping round up some of these people but until last week I had avoided the stark honesty of a high definition movie camera.

My movie career was hatched on Monday of last week. At least I think it was Monday. The headiness of being caught up in the swirl of imagining my star on the Walk of Fame has me in a bit of a fog.

Last week started like any other. I got up, dressed, shaved, petted the cat and headed to Thrifty White to pick up whatever medication I needed to keep me alive that day. It was then that Billi, behind the counter and always sporting a helpful smile (she could work at Hy-Vee), pointed me to my movie career.

She mentioned a flyer hanging at the front of the store that was asking for an actor she thought would be a perfect fit for me.

Thinking it was a general casting call for extras, I told her that while I had helped somewhat in getting the word out to local actors, my duties at the newspaper and directing a play would preclude me from being involved.

I got my drugs, declined counseling by the pharmacist, signed on the little electronic screen and headed on my way. On my way out, the sign that Billi had mentioned caught my eye. The flyer said a local film crew was looking specifically for a “generously proportioned gentleman” to play the part of Kenny. The actor would need to be filmed eating pie.

I refrained from heading to the back of the store to ask how she thought I would be a good fit for this.
As the day wore on, I got to thinking that with my extensive experience acting at the Opera House I could probably pull off playing a “generously proportioned gentleman” eating pie.

I emailed Kathy and told her if she was still looking for a Kenny, I might be available. She graciously accepted my offer, and I was scheduled to shoot my scene at the counter of the Lunch Box in Lake Benton Wednesday evening.
When I arrived on location, I strolled up to a couple of the film crew and with nary a grin, one of them said, “You must be Kenny.”

Not sure if it was my girth that gave it away or the pie stain on my left pocket.

After a short wait and about a half pound of powder from the makeup girl to cover up my shininess, I was brought a patch with the embroidered name “Kenny” on it. One of the crew took some thread and tacked the patch to my navy blue shirt. We added an old, not-too-clean baseball cap and voila, I was Kenny, the pie-eating auto mechanic.

My scene opened with an extreme close-up of me eating the last piece of blueberry pie on a small plate. The camera slowly panned out as I was offered another piece by the waitress (played by a nice young woman named Katie, from Luverne). I glanced at the new piece, looked blankly at the waitress, moved my empty plate and meticulously rotated the piece of pie so the point was in position facing me before cutting off and eating the tip.

Three takes later, someone yelled something like “cut, that’s a wrap.” The crew enthusiastically applauded Katie and me and my show business career immediately went back on hiatus.

I have no idea if my scene will even make it into the final cut, but it was a fun experience and the blueberry pie was fantastic. All six bites. With each take, they pulled the piece of pie from me that held the missing bite so Katie could hand me a new piece. If someone tried that anyplace else in the world there would be fork punctures in their third dorsal interossei muscle.

Yeah, I had to look that up.

The crew will be shooting over the next couple of weeks and into August. (They are looking for some lodging choices in town while the Danebod Family Camp is in town.) It will then take a year or more for all the post-shoot production. A screening is planned in the area when it is finished; possibly at the Opera House.

In the meantime, I’ll be rehearsing my Oscars speech, but plan to take my time hiring an agent.

I’m not a generously proportioned pie-eating auto mechanic, but I play one in the movies. Now I just have to do my best to adjust to a more normal lifestyle, as a generously proportioned pie-eating editor.

I’m telling you, it’s not going to be easy.

Mark has been an amazing help to us throughout the project. Thanks Mark!