Actress Meredith Monroe (best known most recently as Hotch's wife on Criminal Minds) and me after we wrapped filming.

Garrettsville – There’s been, understandably, a bit of increased interest as of late for materials at the library involving historic downtown Garrettsville’s main street of buildings. One such request is that of copies of the movie The Year That Trembled which was filmed thirteen years ago at locations around the area. A few prominent scenes feature the characters mingling on the street and the camera frames include glimpses of the hardware store and nearby shops that were recently lost on an afternoon that closed down that section of town and caused curious and concerned passersby to stop and observe for a while.

Actress Meredith Monroe (best known most recently as Hotch's wife on Criminal Minds) and me after we wrapped filming.
Actress Meredith Monroe (best known most recently as Hotch’s wife on Criminal Minds) and me after we wrapped filming.

Back in the summer of 2001, the same section of town was closed down for a different reason, causing curious and excited passersby to stop and observe for a while. Those who were in the vicinity at that time would remember film crews, directors, make-up artists, hairstylists, and the other various human moving parts needed to make a movie set successful crowding onto the sidewalks and going about their tasks as though they were as normal an occurrence as the usual commuters puttering by on their ordinary-day way to restaurants, shops and offices. Famous faces plucked straight from Hollywood completed the landscape, stepping in to their designated spots once the lighting and camera positioning was finally just perfect for them to most effectively deliver their lines according to the filmmaker’s vision. And, just as memorable, of course, is the contained excitement of the local townspeople patiently observing the action from behind the roped-off areas.

But a lucky few, including this writer, had the opportunity to get in on the action and rub elbows with the actors, interacting with them on screen as lineless extras filling in the backdrop around the central performers.

The summer after my freshman year of college, I came home during the break between semesters looking forward to relaxing and catching up on the “read for fun” booklist I’d been compiling throughout the year. But an invitation in the newspaper announcing an open casting call in search of local citizens to appear in a movie, set at nearby Kent State University in the not-so-nearby 1970s, sounded too intriguing to overlook and swiftly deposited that list to the back of my mind. Not too long after I attended the casting call in person, informal headshot and brief bio in hand, my phone rang with the voice of a casting assistant letting me know that I had been chosen for several scenes and giving me details on when and where I was to report for my call times as well as what to wear. Though the principle actors had the assistance of the wardrobe department, we had to dress the part ourselves and were told a few guidelines for appearing on screen such as how the color red is difficult to read properly on camera while white clothes won’t “pop” well. Since it was a historical piece we also had to choose clothes appropriate to that time period which, thankfully, was remarkably easy for me due to a recent trend in retro styles. We were encouraged to shop at thrift stores which may have older clothes ready for the finding, but one stop in a family member’s well-stored trunk and I had several vintage choices at my fingertips. The one problem was that I was not quite the right size to fit into those wonderful options so we had to get creative. My favorite find was a pair of genuine bellbottoms, dark blue denim with beautifully-embroidered back pockets, but alas, they were too small for my 21st century frame so we cut the flowery panels off the jeans and stitched them to a pair of my contemporary counterparts. The slight flare of the modern bootleg invoked the older style just enough and at least the backside was authentic! With present-day replicas of a blue peasant blouse, kerchief hair accessory and Birkenstocks completing my summery 1970s college look, I successfully made it through the costumer’s careful inspection with a stamp of approval or, in this case and more importantly, permission to continue to the set.

What happened once I fell into step with the silver screen celebrities? Tune in next week for this adventure’s exciting sequel!


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In addition to her role as a contributing reporter for the Weekly Villager, Mialie T. Szymanski is the creator of the bi-weekly column “Puppy Tails”. This children’s story time column stars Doodle Dog, a floppy-eared puppy who has an optimistic perspective of the world around him. Szymanski's picture book “Doodle Dog Enjoys the Day” chronicles a day in the life of this “paws”itive pup. The upcoming read-aloud anthology “Puppy Tails: Adventures of Doodle Dog” is a collection of the columns and illustrations as seen in The Weekly Villager over the last year.