CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 29, 2014 – Students at Southeast Missouri State University who had the opportunity last year to assist in the production of the major motion picture, “Gone Girl,” may see themselves on the big screen when the film debuts Oct. 3 in theaters nationwide.
“It is a rare opportunity for students to get work on a major motion picture in their own backyard,” said Dr. Jim Dufek, Southeast professor of mass media.
“Gone Girl” is based on the Gillian Flynn novel of the same title. Directed by David Fincher, the film stars Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Rosamund Pike and Tyler Perry.
Dufek was contacted in July 2013 by the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation to organize open casting calls for the film produced in Cape Girardeau last fall. According to Dufek, thousands of people, including some from Indiana and California, responded to the opportunity, some of which were held in Rose Theatre on the Southeast campus. Dufek then requested an exclusive casting call for Southeast students.
Many Southeast students were chosen as production assistants, helping the filmmakers behind the scenes, and a few earned parts as extras, allowing them to gain professional experience in the filmmaking industry.
Amber Hawkins of Chaffee, Missouri, a senior mass communication TV/Film major, assisted the casting department in selecting extras for the film.
“My experience working with ‘Gone Girl’ was a spectacular one to say the least,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins was also able to work behind the scenes where she had the opportunity to watch Fincher in action.
“I was no more than three feet away from him [Fincher] and couldn’t help but notice how ‘ordinary’ he seemed,” said Hawkins. “It was then I realized that I had chosen the right major, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life; work in film.”
The cast and crew of “Gone Girl” took advantage of about 30 different filming locations in Cape Girardeau over a six-week period. A detailed list of filming locations can be found here.
Brendan O’Brien of Florissant, Missouri, a junior theatre major at Southeast, was selected as an extra in a scene that takes place at the Drury Lodge.
“I want to be a film director, and I was able to watch a director, whose work I appreciate, in action,” said O’Brien. “I was able, in person, to watch what it was like to work on a professional film scene.”
Aside from gaining first-hand experience with professional filmmakers, students attended an exclusive Q&A session with “Gone Girl” Film Producer Ceán Chaffin. They were able to meet her, ask her questions, and take photos with her.
Chaffin has produced many acclaimed films such as “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Social Network.”
Students, primarily those studying media, also got to hear Fincher discuss his career as an Academy Award-nominated film director during a “by invitation only” Q&A session in Rose Theatre last October. Fincher directed “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Social Network.”
The filming of “Gone Girl” in Cape Girardeau “was a once-in-a-lifetime event,” said Dufek. “Many students took advantage of this opportunity and will be talking about [it]for many years to come.”
Various events for the premiere of “Gone Girl” are planned for Oct. 2 and Oct. 3, including a red carpet event and opening night after-parties at the Isle Casino Cape Girardeau. For more information about “Gone Girl” events, visit visitcape.com/GoneGirl/.
Chuck Martin, executive director of the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Jennifer Icaza-Gast, extra and “Gone Girl” committee member, discussed the filming of “Gone Girl” in Cape Girardeau at a presentation on Sept. 25 in the Cape Girardeau Public Library.
Martin elaborated on the economic impact that filming a major motion picture had on the Cape Girardeau community. He said that the film generated from $7 to $8 million for the community, but final numbers have yet to be determined.
“When we talk about a real, positive impact, it happened,” said Martin.