Monday, January 19, 2015
Ten Years Ago Today I Was On Set Of The Dukes of Hazzard Movie
2005 was such a fun year. I started the year by flying down to Baton Rouge, LA to film my scenes as an extra in the Dukes of Hazzard movie. In late 2004, when I was in grad school at California University of Pennsylvania, I was vigilantly following the production of the movie online. I was on top of everything from casting to set location to catering and looked for every morsel of information I could. Then I found the information on the extras casting company. I crossed my fingers and gave it a shot, wrote a letter explaining my love for the Dukes, and sent some pictures of my (then modest) collection. I convinced Natalie to go along with the submission and sent some pictures of her too. While I was working in the housing office for my graduate assistant job, I got one of the best phone calls of my life (several occurred in 2005.) The casting director liked my submission and invited me and Natalie to be featured extras in the movie. I'm pretty sure I made a scene in the housing office. I was so excited. They gave me the dates and all I had to do was get to Louisiana in January.
We flew to Baton Rouge on January 18th. Our call time wasn't until the 19th. We had no idea what to expect. When we got through the airport and into our rental car, we started to drive to our hotel. As soon as we got on the highway, I spotted a familiar orange friend. Without even trying, I pulled into traffic directly behind the movie General Lee you see above. Fate put me there. It was the Dukes of Hazzard's way of welcoming me to the new Hazzard County. Again, I was so excited. We followed the Gen'ral for a few miles until we spotted our exit. Tomorrow was a big day and we needed our rest.
Our location was the State Capitol Dragway in Erwinville. As soon as we arrived, we knew we were in the right place. The giant tire with the Hazzard Road Rally greeted us. We truly were in Hazzard.
I was able to get a call sheet and some other relics from the shoot. It is filled with information about the production. It lists the vehicles used like the five Hazzard County Police Cars and the five Georgia State Police Cars as well as the different General Lees. It has the call times of the different actors and all kinds of cool info.
The packet also includes a diagram of the set. It is interesting to look over these materials again. It was such a whirlwind experience and I'm glad I have these things to help me remember all the details. Back in '05, I didn't have a good digital camera that would allow me to take a million pictures. Natalie had a very nice film camera. With film cameras, you were always conscious of the number of pictures you were taking, at least I was. I didn't take as many pictures as I do these days at a Dukes event, but I captured some fun moments.
We were on set for a total of four days. We filmed several scenes in the movie. We weren't allowed to have our cameras with us while their cameras were rolling. We filmed the scene where Sheev tries to convince everyone to follow him to the courthouse. I was one of the hog dog throwers. Interesting to me was the fact that they were actually Johnsonville Franks. They had a big presence on location, but weren't played up in the movie like I thought they would be as product placement. We also filmed the scenes where they start the race and when the General enters the race late. Here are the two "hero" cars used in the fast driving scenes.
Though it was supposed to be summer time, it was cold in Bayou. We had to keep taking our jackets off while they were filming. The tent behind me and General Lee was where ate each day. They put out a spread for us! I've been on the set of a few productions but none of them measured up to my first one. The caterers did a great job. Imagine that, during my look at the filming of a major motion picture, I talk about food. Craft services says good food makes good movies. I agree.
At different times while we were on set, the cars were parked in picture friendly places. Here I am with Boss's Cadillac. It is very similar to the car used on the show. The biggest differences are the hubcaps, the bull horns pointing forward instead of up, and the addition of pistol door handles. You actually had to pull the trigger to open the doors.
When I took this picture with Billy's Mustang, the engine was running. I really had to fight the urge of taking off in it. But if I was gonna get kicked off the movie for stealing a car, it would be a General Lee, not the "bad guy car."
The General took a beating in the movie. It was cool to see different cars with the same damage done to them. I think this car would look better with a Dukes of Hazzard fanatic standing in front of it...
Much better. The movie Generals have the passenger side mirror on them. The TV Generals did not. Another subtle difference is the white letters on the tires. There weren't many other differences from the show cars. But you'd barley ever see the Gen'ral this beat up on the show. You can see the camera cranes and other race cars in the background.
I was on set for four days, but had to wear the same clothes each day. I still have the outfit in storage. I envision dressing a mannequin in those clothes one day in the movie area of my museum. This picture has me in front of a clean Billy Prickett car with another beside it. There's a General in the background and a race car in the foreground. It was like a Dukes event with so many Hazzard cars all over the place.
All the police cars were parked on the other side of the dragway. The blue cars are the Hazzard cars, and the white is the state police car. I wonder why they took so much liberty with the police cars and changed them so much. The Autotrader #New01 commercial did the right thing and used the same Hazzard County uniform of newer Chargers. They should have done that for the movie. 2005 was the beginning of "long-hair Larry." It lasted for a good five years and got really long. Sometimes I miss the long hair, it was fun.
This is Rhys Millen. He was the stunt driver and double for Seann William Scott's Bo Duke. He was wearing a wig to look like Seann. He is also wearing a custom Led Zeppelin shirt that the movie made popular. I happen to get one to add to my collection. There aren't many out there. Oddly enough the wig he is wearing has popped up on ebay a few times, but for way too much money. I don't think it ever sold. It would be cool to put on said mannequin. Natalie sure is pretty.
I did spend a little time talking Dukes with the director Jay Chandrasekhar on set. He really loves the Dukes and has fond memories watching it growing up. His final vision might not have meshed well with a majority of the Dukes of Hazzard fans out there, but he did his best. He respected the General Lee and kept the story about Bo, Luke, Daisy and Uncle Jesse. It was geared toward a different audience than the original show. Casting the stars of Jackass and American Pie told you from the beginning where the movie was going. Some people have their issues with the Dukes of Hazzard movie, but I love it. I still watch it when it's on, which has been a lot recently. I am a fan of Jackass, American Pie, and Jay's Super Troopers. Mix those movies together with Hazzard County and you get the Dukes of Hazzard movie. Just be sure to add a little bit of Larry Franks to the mix.
I didn't get to talk to the stars of the movie while on set. But I did get to talk to nearly all of them about the movie and my love of the Dukes later in the year at the Hollywood premiere at the world famous Chinese Theatre. But that is a story for another post. Stay tuned!