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Hollywood comes to Rock Rest

Janet Melody, costume tailor, works altering a suit for the cast of Blood Done Sign My Name, in a classroom at Rock Rest Elementary School last week.

“This has been the greatest experience. I just wish the kids had been here to be a part of it. They would have loved it,” said Rock Rest Elementary principal Wendy Gravely. She was referring to the movie crew that used the school last week as a staging area while they filmed scenes for the movie Blood Done Sign My Name.

The last day of school for students was Friday, June 6, and the film crew moved in on the following Wednesday. The Charlotte Film Commission rented the school cafeteria, gym and five classrooms for the movie production crew as they filmed in a local cemetery and church near Rock Rest Elementary for three days.

Blood Done Sign My Name is a true story written by Timothy Tyson who grew up in North Carolina. The book, with the same title as the movie, is based on the racial tension surrounding a 1970 murder of a black soldier who had returned home to Oxford, NC from the Vietnam War. Since 2004 the book has sold more than 140,000 copies and has won numerous awards. It is currently on the UNC Chapel Hill summer reading list.

While the crew was at Rock Rest Elementary, meals were catered and served in the school cafeteria. The lead actors, Rick Schroder and Nate Parker sat among the crew and the extras that were hired locally. Gravely and other school administrators were invited to meet and have meals with the group.

“It has been awesome to learn the story and actually meet the sons of the main character of the book. I can’t wait to see the movie,” Gravely said.

The five classrooms were used for wardrobe, make-up and hair. Three hair stylists and make-up artists from Charlotte had styled more than 200 hairdos and done make-up for actors in a three-hour period before noon last Friday.

Costume tailor, Janet Melody, worked long days sewing and altering costumes. Thursday night she stopped sewing at 10:30 and was back on the job at 6:00 the next morning. She dressed more than 300 cast members and altered 30 men’s suits in one day of filming the cemetery scene.

Melody said any wardrobe piece that is altered cannot be cut and must be restored to its original condition before it is returned to the costume warehouse in Los Angeles, California. Because the wardrobe is considered to be vintage stock, it is priced to ensure that it is returned in vintage condition.

“This simple child’s dress that you think looks like it is straight off the racks at Goodwill or the Salvation Army and would cost a couple of dollars, is priced at around five hundred dollars,” she said. “And this straight black ladies dress from the 1960’s is priced at $750.”

All clothing articles and accessories are vintage and rented from the costume rental house, except for socks, which are bought and considered disposables.

The film commission provided around-the-clock security for the school campus during the three-day visit. The school bus parking lot was shared with about 20 equipment and cast trailers. The crew moved on to Shelby, North Carolina late Friday night to continue filming. 


Written by: Luan Ingram, Chief Communications Officer
Posted: Jun 18, 2008 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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