• 57°

A day in the life of a ‘Shots Fired’ extra

Writer

Connie Peacock was an extra in “Shots Fired.”
Submitted photo

By Connie Peacock

Special to the Salisbury Post

In the spring of 2016, the Rowan County Courthouse exterior was transformed into Gates Station Courthouse for filming of Fox TV’s “Shots Fired,” a 10-part series that will air at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

“Shots Fired” is a fictional series set in a small North Carolina town where racially charged shootings lead to the investigation of a possible political cover-up.

The series stars Academy Award winners Helen Hunt and Richard Dreyfuss. Other stars include Mack Wilds, Sanaa Lathan, Stephan James, Stephen Moyer and Aisha Hinds.

The television production was filmed in Rowan, Cabarrus, Iredell and Mecklenburg counties. Most of the crew and extras were local residents who contributed  to the economy in Salisbury and other locations.

Following 20th Century Fox’s policy, I arrived well before my 10 a.m. call time with two extra sets of clothing. I had packed my dad’s khaki work shirt, given to me after his death by my mother. However, I had to remember I was playing a townsperson, not a protester. The protesters had filled the previous week.

Two buses transported us to another waiting facility in downtown Mooresville. Yes, the production company fed us. We waited for what seemed to be an eternity until finally the production assistants began calling us out in smaller groups. I watched as eager extras walked out the door into the great unknown. I felt something between stage-struck and stage fright. I was part of the last group of 200 extras to leave the building.

In the downtown Mooresville area, we saw a parked sheriff’s car, which I thought was Iredell County’s. I recall thinking, “That car looks a little dated … a little like, well, ‘Mayberry.'”

“Shots Fired” is set in modern day. I could get into a discussion here about how Hollywood filmmakers perceive North Carolina, but I won’t go there.

I noticed that the car had “Gates Station” on the side. At least I knew I wasn’t in Mooresville or Mayberry any longer.

We were sent to join other extras standing about 12 to 15 feet from Helen Hunt, who was behind a podium on a covered platform. She plays the governor. I was moved closer to the front where I could hear Hunt’s character make some statements about sit-ins, about how one person can stand up — or, in this case, sit down — and make a difference.

Hunt was interrupted at one point by the sound of an approaching train. She looked shocked, but she’s an actress. I was concerned about the ambient train noise overpowering the dialogue. It was a black engine followed by two black box cars with white Norfolk Southern letters. A friendly conductor waved as he sat in the engine. He didn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. A little while later, he backed down the track the same way he had come.

I have since seen a similar train in a movie. Was this a case of life imitating art or of art imitating life? I have also since heard that there is a special “movie train haven” somewhere, but not in Spencer. And the white letters are not painted on the side; they just look that way. Not everything is as it appears to be.

Film, take a break. Film, break. Film, break.

At one point, the director came over and said, “Stay hydrated. Keep drinking water.” After a while, I reached my floating point. I needed to take a break. By the time the shuttle returned me to the set, someone was in my spot. This just about killed any preconceived notions of fame and glory.

I could always tell friends and family that I came for the food.

After we wrapped for the day, two very long tables for 200 hungry extras held salad, veggies, lentils, salmon, chicken, beef, rolls, chocolate cake and lemonade.

After this, I have five words for Fox TV: When are you coming back?

Comments

East Spencer

East Spencer draws crowd for annual community day

Elections

In Rowan’s legislative races, Howard, Warren get off to strongest start in fundraising

Business

From Navy SEAL to Medicare agent, Trent Waller looks to continue serving his community

Elections

In 13th Congressional District race, Budd, Huffman differ on government’s role in COVID-19 help

Local

Rowan County Telecommunications joins new state digital 911 system

Education

School board will consider scheduling public hearings for Faith, Enochville closures

Business

Biz Roundup: Food Lion makes donation to support racial equality and justice

Elections

Republicans rally supporters at Saturday lunch

Elections

Budd holds wide lead over Huffman in fundraising, cash on hand

BREAKING NEWS

UPDATED: 1 shot, 5 in custody after shooting at haunted house that attracted 1,000 visitors

Nation/World

Trump picks conservative Amy Coney Barrett to fill Supreme Court seat

Coronavirus

Deadly September propels Rowan County to 100 deaths from COVID-19

Crime

Highway Patrol charges man in hit-and-run after finding vehicle hidden in woods

Elections

NC elections board, Republicans at odds over absentee ballot rule changes

News

Voters struggling with witness rules in early voting

News

Trump expected to announce conservative Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court

Coronavirus

County reports COVID-19 percent positive rate of 8%

Local

Rowan County United Way sets $1.5 million goal at drive-in kickoff event

Crime

Blotter: Adult daughters accused of beating up mother

China Grove

China Grove firefighters injured after truck overturns

Business

Salisbury VA to reopen entry, exit gates

Crime

Sheriff’s Office looking for suspect in Burlington Coat Factory theft

Elections

Requests for absentee ballots top 9,000 in Rowan

Local

Spencer approves supplemental USDA loan for Park Plaza project