600 seek fame from Georgetown movie project

Vanessa Ewing has experience in show biz.

As a teenager, she was in 1984's "Tales of the Unknown South," filmed in Georgetown, so when she heard about a casting call on Saturday, she said, "Why not give it a shot?"

That "why not" attitude was pervasive on Saturday.

More than 600 people showed up in Georgetown in search of their 15 minutes of fame.

An extras casting call for "Isopod," a sci-fi movie to be shot in Georgetown sometime in September, drew a large and diverse crowd. And though she wasn't the first one there, Ewing was close.

Ewing, who celebrated her 43rd birthday this week, said she got to the Howard Auditorium around 9 a.m., an hour before the doors were supposed to open.

She was in the second group of about 50 people that was called into the auditorium to fill out paperwork and submit their picture to the film's representatives.

Behind her, the line snaked through the lobby and down along the building.

She said she dragged her daughter, Desiree, and friend Cameron Santos with her, though Desiree didn't have any idea why they were there.

"I tricked her," Ewing said.

Eighty-four year-old Terry Conway said he "had nothing better to do" so he decided to come down to the casting call.

"I thought it would be fun," Conway said. "It'd be nice for my grandkids to see me in it. Be nice for my wife, too."

Don McLemore said he drove from Columbia with his wife to answer the call for extras.

"I've played Santa Claus before," he said. "This seemed like a good opportunity."

Kitty Morgan also came to the casting call, 5-month-old Caleb in tow.

"I didn't know what they wanted, but if they want someone running and screaming, someone running and screaming holding a baby is more dramatic," she said.

Details about the movie's plot remained murky on Saturday.

Extras casting director Tona Dahlquist said she couldn't give out any more information than what had been released; that it's a science-fiction thriller to be directed by Barry Levinson.

But she requested specific extras on Saturday, including a set of 1-year-old boy twins, experts at eating blue crab and amputees "for a hospital scene."

She also said that some of the extras chosen could be selected for "featured" extra roles.

Overall, she said she was really pleased with the turnout.

"We have a lot of people to choose from," she said.

Dahlquist said she likes doing casting calls in the South because "we have a lot of interesting people with a lot of character in their faces."

She said those kinds of people are hard to find in places like Los Angeles.

She also said she loves filming in "smaller towns," like Georgetown.

"They really get behind the movie. There's a lot of excitement," she said.

Dahlquist said filming will start in mid-September and will last about a month.

Some of the extras will get a call right away, she said, and others might not get a call for a while.

"It just has to do with casting a certain scene, a certain location," she said.

She said the best quality in an extra was "a good attitude."

Four theater majors from Coastal Carolina waiting in line said they were willing to do whatever was needed for the movie.

"Whatever they want us to do," said Sarah Berton. "We're ready."

Haley Chapel, standing nearby, chimed in with a few of her qualifications. "We're prepared to scream," she said. "I can be pretty, and I can scream, and I can die bloody."