Behind the scenes: Plastic dolls not picture perfect

by John Manulis: “Believe in Me” producer

By now I’m sure you’ve gotten the sense that a significant part of our movie revolves around the basketball games/crowd scenes. You’ve heard how important it is to us to have strong community participation in these scenes, as we exhort you via radio, newspaper, fliers and even bullhorns to suit up, turn out and wave the flag.

But, the drama behind the scenes is our team’s extraordinary effort to keep you, our Curry and Roosevelt County friends and neighbors, from being replaced by inflatable dolls and cardboard cutouts. You see, there’s a modern “improvement” afoot, whereby companies provide inflatable extras (complete with painted face masks, wigs and wardrobe) and photo-realistic cardboard cutouts to movies and television productions looking to fill stadiums and save money and effort. While there are costs involved (generally about $10 a dummy), the dolls don’t eat, go to the bathroom, spill sodas, make noise, or trip down the bleachers.

There is, however, an attendant danger to their soulless efforts … real extras, perhaps frustrated with this new form of competition, have been known to quietly puncture their row-mates in a form of serial deflation.

Rest assured, we at “Believe In Me” are fully committed to protecting the integrity of you, our wonderful, dedicated, live crowds; a commitment that requires us to mount a full-scale live event around the already massive production of the movie. The week of each game thousands of fliers are printed and distributed; e-mails are designed and “blasted;” spokespersons fan out to work the local radio stations; catering and food vendors are engaged; location scouts make plans for parking, holding areas, wardrobe and changing areas; catering and eating areas and porta-potties; vast amounts of supplies are assembled (50 cases of soda, 120 cases of water, 150 boxes of granola bars, 500 Froze Fruit bars, 50 boxes of Pudding Pops, 1000 individual bags of tortilla chips, hundreds of pounds of candy); and then the prize wrangler goes into action, pulling together signed basketballs, signed photographs of our stars, DVD players, digital cameras and more.

On the day itself, our emcees, crowd wranglers and security personnel work to make the event as entertaining, informative and comfortable as possible (this weekend, check out the microphone stylings of City Manager Raymond Mondragon and Chamber of Commerce chief Ernie Kos).

And all because we believe in you. So, please, validate our belief and help us protect the integrity of your work from the indignities of the inflatable invasion. Come to Gattis Junior High School at 10 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and be a part of making a movie.