Categories Movies

Hollywood sweeps into North Campus

Although most University of Michigan students have left Ann Arbor for spring break this week, Pierpont Commons on North Campus on Tuesday was bustling with people, including some Hollywood stars.

Actresses Hilary Swank and Minnie Driver were filming scenes for the feature film “Betty Anne Waters,” under the guidance of director Tony Goldwyn, who most famously played the villain in “Ghost.”

The Commons’ main hallway was clogged with equipment carts, a tall, black screen and men with headphones who were watching monitors. Beyond them, more than 100 college-age extras stood quiet and still, waiting for crew members to once again call out, “Rolling!” – at which point the extras would walk in a long circle, providing a moving backdrop for a student union scene in “Waters.” A set on the upper level of the Commons was slated for duty as a law school library later in the day.

On Tuesday, two days of shooting was wrapped up on the U-M campus. “Waters” will continue to be shot around Ann Arbor for approximately four to five more weeks. The film tells the true story of a single mother who puts herself through college and law school in order to exonerate her brother after he is sentenced to death for a murder he didn’t commit,

U-M senior Adriana Rewald said the call time for extras on Tuesday was 8 a.m.

“Most of it’s waiting,” Rewald said, during a 3 p.m. lunch break when she returned to the extras holding area. “It’s been interesting. I was around for spring break anyway, and I had nothing else to do today.”

She hadn’t seen either Swank or Driver during her unpaid shift, but U-M senior Jack Taylor had better luck Monday, when he worked as an extra in an Angell Hall lecture hall.

“Hilary’s character had a paper due at 10 a.m., and she turned it in at 10:01, so it wasn’t accepted,” he said of the scene, where he was seated near Driver.

Hoping to pursue a career in film, Taylor viewed his experience as a learning opportunity. “It was great to be on a working set and actually see the inner workings of it,” he said. “You wouldn’t think that it would take that much to accomplish a shot, but it does.”

Jenn McKee can be reached at 734-994-6841 or