Like many, Dustin Brooker was thrilled when he heard a big production was filming in his hometown.
And when a casting call for extras in the Ben Affleck flick, “Live By Night,” was rolled out, Brooker decided to audition. He was selected along with many other locals, starting the multi-day filming process in the late fall of 2015.
“It was simple, but not easy. The first thing we would do is get into costume and we would be ready and in costume all day. We started early in the morning and didn’t finish until into the night,” he said.
Of course, all that time wasn’t spent actually filming. Instead, there was a lot of waiting that went on during the three-day span.
“Most of the time spent was waiting, on call. During filming I was positioned in a spot, and depending on the scene, given brief instructions,” Brooker said. “Sometimes we would do a couple of takes, sometimes many. The days on set were long, but a lot of fun and worth it.”
Once the film wrapped and moved to editing, he was able to reflect more on the experience. And now, with the premiere in Brunswick just days away, it has become even more powerful.
“It’s really fun to be part of something that has so much being put into it. When it comes to building the set, costumes, writers, directors and everything and everyone involved we’re all collectively coming together for this project, to tell a story,” he said.
“It is exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing the final piece and how it transformed from being on set to the movie screen.”
Like Brooker, Bill Rush is extra eager to see the film hit theaters. Not only is it a chance to possibly see himself on the screen, it is also the chance to see the people and the city itself, particularly downtown Brunswick, in the limelight.
“My biggest takeaway was that for three days it wasn’t how old you were and what you did for a living or where you lived, it was the part we were playing in a movie filmed in historic downtown Brunswick,” Rush said.
“We all got dressed in the same dressing rooms, took breaks in the same break rooms and acted in and out of the buildings and on the streets of Brunswick.”
The movie’s release Friday night is expected to draw in crowds at both Georgia Theater Company locations — in Glynn Place Mall and on St. Simons Island.
In fact, theater management tried to connect with Hollywood to host an opening with fanfare, including actors. That was not to be, however, as scheduling conflicts prevented appearances.
But the occasion will still be feted. Susan Bates, owner of Tipsy McSway’s in downtown Brunswick, is hosting a Prohibition-era themed party from 9 p.m. to midnight Friday. Costumes, Bates added, are highly encouraged.
“We’ll be in costumes with our windows covered in brown paper, speakeasy style. I’ve invited Ben Affleck every day via Twitter. You never know, maybe he’ll show up,” she said.
Not only will the event be good for business, the release is also personally exciting for her and her team, as the filming took place directly outside her restaurant.
“Having a restaurant with giant glass windows made for fabulous viewing of the filming of ‘Live By Night.’ There was one particular scene where Ben Affleck’s car pulls up and stops in front of Tipsy’s. They must have shot that scene 15 times right in front of us. My customers were thrilled. We probably saw him 100 times during filming,” Bates said.
As far as the film’s post-release reach, Bates is optimistic about its success. And she hopes that it will serve as a driving force to bring more attention to downtown Brunswick.
“It would be fantastic if the movie was a hit ... maybe more production companies would consider Brunswick a great location for their next movie,” she said. “I also think any positive press letting people know that downtown Brunswick is incredibly good for business.”