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Farmer’s field lands in Earhart film

John Fuller has used the field across from his house for many different things since he started farming here in 1953.

Last year, he grew winter wheat on it. This year, he decided to give it a rest before planting another crop next spring.

But the activity on the field Sunday was of a completely different nature.

Mr. Fuller’s field near idyllic Blomidon, overlooking the mud tides of the Minas Basin, was the set for a scene from the Hollywood movie Amelia, a biopic about the famed American aviator Amelia Earhart.

A movie crew of about 250 people started filming in Dartmouth last Tuesday. They also filmed scenes on the Northwest Arm in Halifax and in Hubbards.

The Nova Scotia part of the shoot will wrap up today in Lunenburg County before the crew heads to South Africa for other scenes.

Two-time Oscar and Golden Globe winner Hilary Swank was on the set Sunday at Blomidon, where she filmed a short scene depicting Ms. Earhart landing in a field in Ireland as she attempted her 1937 flight around the world.

The legendary pilot disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

It was a closed set and reporters were kept out by security guards.

But Mr. Fuller offered to take a reporter from The Chronicle Herald down to the set in his pickup truck.

“Sure, I’ll take you down,” he said. “It’s my land. I can take whoever I want.”

Other family members and people from the community were kept back from the set while the filming took place.

During the scene, Ms. Swank climbs from the replica Lockheed Vega aircraft and walks onto the field to speak with a farmer.

In the background, there’s a herd of sheep being corralled by a dog.

Ms. Swank was wearing a leather aviator’s suit. Immediately following the shoot, she was whisked away in a white van.

People in the crowd were discouraged from taking photos of the actress, who played a struggling waitress-turned-boxer in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, a role for which she won an Academy Award.

Starring opposite Ms. Swank in the film is Richard Gere, who plays Amelia’s husband, publisher George Putnam. But Mr. Gere did not appear to be on the set Sunday.

Also appearing in the film are Ewan McGregor and Virginia Madsen. It’s not known if they were on set for the Nova Scotia portion of filming.

Mira Nair, also known for the movies Vanity Fair and The Namesake, is directing the film.

Mr. Fuller, whose family farm raises broiler chickens, said he didn’t plan on using the field this year but didn’t expect it to be the set for a movie.

He said a location scout flew over his land a few months ago and picked his field out from the air.

He said he watched the crew haul pieces of the replica plane to the site and put it together after they arrived last week. They also mowed about 20 acres of grass in the field for the set.

“It’s exciting for the community,” said Tony Fuller, his son.

Dick Trice is a lifelong Amelia Earhart fan. He was at the set Sunday to watch.

“When I was a kid my mother was a fan of Amelia Earhart in California, and I can never let go of it,” he said.

Following the Blomidon shoot, the crew packed up and drove to Convocation Hall at Acadia University in Wolfville.

The building filled in for an eastern United States college where Ms. Earhart made a presentation in 1928.

The university was also home base for more than 50 trucks and vehicles carrying production crew and film equipment.

Acadia spokeswoman Sherri Turner said there has been little disruption to campus activities, although University Hall and the Sheldon L. Fountain Learning Commons were secured and closed to the public and campus community Sunday.

Location scouts visited the campus twice before choosing Acadia, said Ms. Turner.

“The film is in a 1928 time period and all the buildings in that quad were built around that time and have that look and appeal to it,” the university spokeswoman said in an interview.

“They said there was no place like it on the eastern seaboard because we still have the original chairs, staging, all the woodwork and atmosphere. There’s very little they had to change.”

Even a light fixture on the main floor was a gift from the class of 1928.

“It was just a perfect fit for them,” she said.