Bruce Schultz and life as a movie extra

By Dominick Cross

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

He’s been there before, but ended up on the floor. The cutting room floor, that is.

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It’s the life of an extra and, understanding that, Bruce Schultz has no great expectations.

So come February of next year when the book-turned-flick Beautiful Creatures opens, we may get a glimpse of Schultz in the background with his period photography setup, if you’re not gazing at Emma Thompson sashaying by to talk to Viola Davis.

Or we could catch him as an extra in uniform ­— pick a uniform — during the Civil War battle scenes. “I just borrowed this fella’s outfit and his gun and played soldier,” says Schultz. “I also borrowed another outfit the same day and was a Confederate re-enactor. So I worked both sides.”

Schultz was also a civilian “with a cane hobbling off of the field when a thunderstorm approaches.”

But if we don’t get to actually see Schultz, whose day job is assistant communications specialist with the LSU AgCenter, we may get to see his actual tintype and glass negative creations. “I’m not really sure how the pictures are used in the film,” he says. “But supposedly Jeremy Irons shows his niece and her boyfriend — and I may be wrong about this, I didn’t see the script so I’m not sure how exactly they will be used — but these are pictures of the main character’s grandfather who was in the Civil War.”

Schultz says photos of spell casters, the aforementioned niece’s ancestors, may be used in the movie. “They don’t call them witches, they’re called casters,” he says, explaining the premise. “It’s kind of like a Harry Potter story with a romance involved. And there’s a lot of kids — I say kids, you know, 19- , 20-year-olds — that are the main stars.

“The whole book is aimed at pre-teen and early teenage girls, mostly. Although I did listen to it myself,” Schultz says. “It’s kind of like a Harry Potter thing with magic and spells.”

Schultz got the movie gig while shooting a Civil War reenactment in full garb and doing his wet plate craft while at Port Hudson. “I try to look the part as well as make the pictures,” he says. “I had my whole set-up there.”

Schultz says the Beautiful Creatures’ “prop guy came by and was excited because he was afraid he was going to have to fly somebody in from California to do this, and it would be more expensive,” he says. “The set decorator came by and they liked my setup, so they also hired me to set up my photography outfit for some scenes in the movie.”

The movie flashes back between modern times and the Civil War via dreams about past lives, as well as a classroom assignment for the students to visit a Civil War reenactment.

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Cover image for Brother Dege's 2010 record, Folk Songs of
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“Actually, the teacher who assigns them to go to a Civil War reenactment is an actor from Baton Rouge, Pruitt Taylor Vince,” says Schultz, a former Acadiana bureau chief at The Advocate. “I got to say hello to him and remind him that I did an article on him about 25 years ago when Shy People was shot here in Louisiana.”

Schultz had another even closer encounter on the set. “I met the woman who grew up in the house I live in right now,” he says. “She’s a stunt woman — Leah Hennessy — her dad [Jeff Hennessy] was the trampoline coach at UL.”

Hennessy was in GI Jane as Demi Moore’s stunt double and in The Guardian with Kevin Costner, where she played a drowning woman and was nominated for a Taurus World Stunt Award for her work. Hennessy also is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most U.S. National Championships for women trampolinists.

“So it was neat to say hello to her and meet her and also just to see the surprise when I told her that she grew up in my house,” laughs Schultz.

The movie has been shot since mid-April around southeast Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, Hammond, New Orleans and Morganza; some of it was shot in Mississippi.

The scene with Schultz that ended up on the cutting room floor? The movie Jonah Hex, where he played a fiddler.

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