East Spencer police chief in football movie

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2011

By Karissa Minn
This spring, moviegoers might just spot a local police chief on the silver screen.
East Spencer Police Chief Floyd Baldo played a football coach as an extra in the movie “The 5th Quarter,” which was filmed in Winston-Salem and is set to release in March.
The film stars Aidan Quinn, Andie MacDowell and Ryan Merriman and tells the story of a star football player at Wake Forest University named Jon Abbate.
In February 2006, Abbate’s 15-year-old brother, Luke, was killed in a car wreck due to his friend’s reckless driving.
“After Jon’s brother died, he didn’t care much about football anymore,” Baldo said. “But his coach kept talking to him and eventually talked him back into playing football.”
Instead of his usual No. 40, Abbate asked to wear the No. 5, his brother’s number when he played high school football. At the end of the third quarter, he would hold up five fingers in honor of Luke, and the rest of the team and even the fans followed his lead. Soon, at Wake Forest the fourth quarter became known as the fifth quarter.
Baldo said he attended the first game of that season when the school played against Syracuse.
“I remember in that game that the announcer made some comments about helping Wake Forest get to the ACC championship,” Baldo said. “I said, ‘ACC championship and Wake Forest shouldn’t be in the same sentence.’ ”
But defying expectations and the odds, Abbate and his team went on to win the Atlantic Coast Conference. It was the first time since 1970 and the second time ever Wake Forest held the title of ACC champions.
Baldo said he heard about the movie a couple years ago from a friend, who told him they were looking for extras to be football players. Baldo had played football at Winston-Salem State University.
“As soon as I walked in the door, one of the guys looked at me and said, ‘You’re one of them,’ ” he said.
At first, Baldo was given No. 55 to portray a Wake Forest defensive player. But because “The Fifth Quarter” is based on a true story, the filmmakers decided to use some footage from the actual games — and unlike Baldo, the player who wore No. 55 was black.
Baldo was then switched out to play one of the team’s coaches. He said he was disappointed at first, then relieved that he could wear a sweatshirt instead of a short-sleeved football uniform.
“It was in November or December of 2008,” Baldo said. “It got really cold, and they had to spray water on the football players to make them look like they were sweating.”
He had no lines, but his football experience helped direct those on the sideline create believeable scenes.
“People kept looking different ways, and I said, ‘Guys, in a real game, your eyes follow the football,’ ” he said. “We got some good scenes after that.”
Baldo said he and the other extras worked a total of six long days on set. He spoke to Quinn and Merriman, but did not say much to MacDowell, because he was careful not to “hound” the stars.
He said he’s not sure if people will be able to spot him in the final cut of the film, but “I’m glad I got to do it.”
Baldo said “The 5th Quarter,” written and directed by Rick Bieber, should premiere in Winston-Salem sometime between now and its March release.
To find out more about “The 5th Quarter,” visit the5thquartermovie. com.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.