For most of the spring, Engel Stadium has acted as Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the 1940s for the upcoming baseball film "42."
But after today, the stadium will once again be rooted in modern day Chattanooga, as filming for the movie about race barrier-breaking player Jackie Robinson finishes shooting in the Scenic City.
Filming for "42" began April 21, allowing dozens of extras to don 1940s attire or baseball outfits. The production team returned from Macon, Ga., on Thursday to shoot some last-minute vignettes of baseball action -- pitching, hitting, catching and an occasional slide to home base.
"42" production generated at least an estimated $5 million for the Chattanooga economy, according to Missy Crutchfield, the administrator for Chattanooga's Department of Education, Arts and Culture. However, factoring in an economic multiplier effect could result in that number being doubled after Legendary Pictures releases financial figures to the state sometime in the next few months, she said.
Hollywood has filmed scenes in the Chattanooga area for films ranging from "Water for Elephants" to "Deliverance." But "42" is the longest-running and largest-budgeted major studio production in Chattanooga and will open up a plethora of possibilities, Crutchfield said.
"They loved Chattanooga," she said. "I'm getting texts from them in Macon saying how much they miss us. They'll definitely be back."
To have a major Hollywood production come to Chattanooga also helps generate tourism and could attract prospective film crew members as a place to live, Crutchfield said.
"Hollywood is a small community," she said. "If they don't like you or had a bad experience, they'll let others know."
Billboards line the nearly-unrecognizable Engel Stadium to make it look like Ebbetts Field in the 1940s. Shooting at Engel Stadium has taken as long as 15 hours on some days, according to Damien Quinn, who handles costumes for "42."
"Everyone wants to be in show business until they work the long hours," said Quinn, a Los Angeles native and member of the union called International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
Fitting costumes for sports movies is not foreign to Quinn, who has worked on costumes for movies including the remake of "The Longest Yard," "Miracle" and "The Express," which starred Chadwick Boseman, the actor playing Jackie Robinson in the film. Quinn worked on Boseman's outfit for "42."
"My responsibility is to dress the baseball players," he said. "There's a lot of extensive research that goes into costuming a movie like this, and months of preparation."
Though they were in their regular street clothes, extras Justin Hix and Brandon Boston tossed an apple back and forth just outside the stadium as if they were still in their characters as background baseball players.
On different days, the players would wear uniforms of different baseball teams. On Thursday, they were members of the 1947 Philadelphia Phillies.
"There's like a 100 people in there doing five seconds of shooting," said Hix, a Chattanooga resident. "We're just chilling right now. 'Hurry up and wait.' That's the motto for an extra."
"This is really cool, and it inspires me to want to do the next thing," said Boston, a Dunlap, Tenn., resident and an aspiring director and actor.
Though filming is scheduled to finish in Chattanooga today, the green screen around Engel Stadium is set to be up for about six more weeks, should the production team decide they need to come back after all.
"42" is currently scheduled to arrive in theaters on April 12, 2013.
"It's going to be damn good," Quinn said. "Any movie that deals with race relations is a good film. That's still an issue in some parts if the world today."
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