Nov. 16--SILVER CITY -- A small crowd stopped traffic on Bullard Street Wednesday night. They disregarded street rules and spilled out in front of the Silco Theater to witness an historic moment: The lighting of the new Silco Theater's marquee. The event was tied to a visit from the New Mexico Film Office, and sponsored by the Silver City Arts and Cultural District, the New Mexico Film Office and the Silver City Main Street Project, which offered the Silco as the venue and lit the new art deco marquee on the historic theater for the first time to commemorate the event.
Before the Town Hall meeting, a crowd of nearly 150 people waited out front of the historic theater for the momentous lighting of the new marquee.
Arlene Schadel, dressed as Carol Burnett from one of her comedy sketches, mopped people's feet. Ted Presler, dressed to the nines in a 1940s tweed get-up, served as a film director, shouting through a bullhorn to direct the crowd. The "Brazilian Bombshell," singer Carmen Miranda (Lorraine Anglin) showed off her signature fruit hat and smiled really big for the "paparazzi" -- locals who agreed to stand out front and take pictures of Silver City's Hollywood actors in front of the Silco Theater.
When it came time to light the Silco sign, Presler corralled the excited on-lookers by yelling through his bullhorn. He shouted at the crowd in the street to move out of the way of the traffic, and then began the official countdown. Voices chimed in and when the chorus shouted "one," the Silco Theater's marquee lit up on cue in downtown Silver City.
After the oohs and ahs died down, the crowd moved inside to hear NM Film Office Director Nick Maniatis talk about how film opportunities are growing in New Mexico thanks to new tax incentives.
"We're here to let folks know what we do and give them ideas on how to make Silver City film-friendly," he said.
Area residents also learned that Silver City and Grant County offer great opportunities for movie makers.
"We have everything there is to replicate location sites for film," said Arlene Schadel, who previously served as Grant County's Film Liaison, when she worked as the Grant County Economic Development Coordinator.
"The terrain here is very diverse," she said.
Schadel, who has appeared in three films recently shot in this area, gave a presentation about the movies she has made. They include "The Journey Home," shot by Sedona Film School students in Deming, "The Truth," a feature film that will be available through Redbox, which was shot in Fort Bayard in August, and "The X Species," a movie about Big Foot that was shot recently at various locations in Grant County. That film is expected to reach movie theaters in June 2014.
"The actors [in "The X Species"] were crying at the Grant County Airport because they didn't want to leave," Schadel said.
Don Gray, a locations manager, spoke about how important it is to submit photos of the area and its people on the New Mexico Film Office website.
After a short question and answer session, the theater went dark and a short documentary was shown on the making of the new Silco Theater marquee, built by Ram Studios, Inc. out of Farmington, N.M. Dworin said a lot of people were laughing and it was a lot of fun.
The event ended with Schadel getting on-stage still in her Carol Burnett costume, looking like a cleaning lady and singing Burnett's signature song, "I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together." The crowd sang along.
Then Presler, still the 1940s film director, yelled out, "That's a Wrap!"
The Town Hall was part of a larger tour across the state that the New Mexico Film Office is conducting to encourage residents to get involved in the film and television industry in New Mexico.
Dworin said nearly 150 people attended Wednesday's Film Office Town Hall, and about 85 people got free headshots taken by the Film Office, which will be given to casting directors.
Susan Dunlap can be reached at 575-538-5893 ext. 5803.
(c)2013 the Silver City Sun-News (Silver City, N.M.)
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