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Mustang movie write up, 'Friday Night Lights', premieres October 2004 with Tim McGraw and Billy Bob Thornton

Thanks to Tony Scharp for photos and text.

     Back in Sept I was at in-service at HQ. Stopped by fleet and they mentioned a company had just bought 4 of our Crown Vics for a new Tommy Lee Jones movie, “Cheer Up”, being filmed there in Austin. I tracked down the production company and sent them pictures of my car and contact info if they needed it. Never did hear from them. In January I got a call from Universal Studios about doing this film, “Friday Night Lights”. High school football is really big here, especially in the rural areas. This movie is about Odessa’s championship team in '88, taken from the book with the same name. Had several dates come and go on when they needed me. At first outside of Austin (2 hrs away), but they used the Diplomats for those scenes. The director wanted to use the Mustang out in Odessa, 494 miles away (had to be by air). It was scheduled for 3/12/04. I was going to leave 3/11/04 after class. I got off work at 7am 3/10 and was dead tired. Decided I was going to skip class that day and sleep in knowing I would have a busy end of the week. At 9am they called and said they needed me a day early, could I make it up that night. No problem. Left Houston around noon heading west, 80 degrees outside. Not much out there. IH10 past San Antonio then north up country roads to Odessa. Pitch black out. No cell phones, didn’t know what DPS radio channel to use if needed. No FM stations, and a few Mexican AM stations. Only car on any of these roads. I was going 25-30 mph with my spotlights on to see the deer, rabbits, skunks, and armadillos that kept crossing in front of me. Talk about getting stressed out, 2-3 hours of that!

    Finally got to Odessa around 11p, 60ish degrees outside. Went to wash and detail the car. Woke up at 5a for the shoot and it was low 40’s and very strong, cold winds. Wiped down the car and was on the scene by 6:15. Freezing out (for a south Texas boy). I had packed a sweat shirt just in case it was “cool” out, and had my DPS uniform parka in the trunk. By the end of the day my knuckles were bleeding and chaffed from my blue jean pant pocket edges acting like sandpaper. I was shivering so much. Started shooting at dawn. They turned an old 7-11 into a 1980’s scene. Prices, advertisements, cars, clothes, etc. First shots were from across the street. Then the rest were from several different angles around the car, from inside the 7-11, through the old Camaros' window into mine, and from inside my window into the Camaro. Two rehearsal runs and 2 real runs of every angle, with two different cameras rolling. Every time the current HS players had to eat on bean burritos and drink chocolate milk. Yummy! The Trooper rolls in and parks next to the Camaro. He’s got an old state championship ring on his right hand, on top of the steering wheel. He talks to them about winning this year’s championship, then gets out and walks into the store. I was going to be the Trooper in the scene, but the director wanted his cameo to be this scene. I would be his partner. Instead they used the newly elected Sheriff to be the Trooper. We can’t have facial hair or a white T-shirt showing. Have to overlook that. Oh well. I guess they used a lot of local politicians, big wigs, principles, etc. in this movie. Good public relations. The Sheriff broke my unbreakable aftermarket metal outside door handle by mid morning. He had to reach in the rest of the shoot to open the door. People actually thought our cars were equipped that way so the “bad guys” couldn’t get into our cars. (How would we get into them?)

    By noon we were done with that shoot. I got a picture with the director, Peter Berg. He mentioned they were coming to Houston in several weeks to shoot the championship game at the Astrodome. He asked about restaurants and other things down there. I told him to give me a call if they needed anything. He asked for my card. I wrote down my home number and cell on the back. I said goodbye, thanks for the neat experience, and left. It started to rain, and it was still COLD. Went to check out of the hotel and stopped by the Ford dealership to get an estimate on parts/labor to fix the door handle ($169.00). Left town to head home. 45 minutes east of Midland the director’s assistant called my cell and said he wanted me back for an afternoon shoot (I could hear him in the background, “Get Tony back here with his car.”) Several people told me everyone was pretty impressed with the car. Usually they are really beat up. Decent paint on the outside and duct taped up on the inside. So I turned around and went to the stadium. Made it back and everyone was waiting for me. As soon as I “Skinned” my car (put the decals and plates on) they started filming. The first afternoon scene the team was loading up on the buses to head to the Astrodome. Meet Billy Bob Thornton there. Didn’t recognize him, all clean cut and in a coaches uniform. My car and a nasty Diplomat were to lead the buses out of the parking lot with our lights on. The first part had our cars next to the buses. The next part had us rolling with lights on in front of the buses. The star player gets out of his dad’s car with his knee wrapped up and on crutches. They had me stop right between his dad’s car and the front bus for a close up as he walked by. Even though my rear strobes and rear amber light stick, and front corner strobes were not time correct they wanted them on.

    Finished up by dusk and tried again to head home. Made it only to Abilene. At that point had gotten 6 hours sleep in the last 72 hours. Stayed with family (who’s a dentist and numbed up my right side to fix several cavities that next morning). Again out middle of nowhere following a local sheriff unit in the rain came around a corner on the highway and spooked a driver. He jammed his brakes, slid off the right side, hit the passenger door on a rock embankment, and flipped around. His horse trailer did one end over end and landed on its side. Right in front of me. Luckily I just did the brakes and installed new Goodyears with good wet weather tractions. (Note: I had put my wallet with extra key in my center console for no reason earlier.) I ran out and helped extract the driver and passenger. Horses were half way ejected out of the trailer. 1 was going to have to be put down. After assisting with that for an hour in the rain realized that my car was locked on the passenger side and unable to open from the driver’s side. It had been running with all the rear equipment on. We had to break into it, first on the drivers then successfully on the passenger side. Kept heading home, picked up parts in Waco at LATE MODEL RESTORATION *** www.50resto.com ****, had dinner with my parents and brother, and made it home in Houston by 8pm. 1300 miles round trip. What a trip. If anyone ever gets the chance to do this, it’s definately worth it. Never knew so much goes into a movie. Just for a few seconds of screen time. I was paid $300 a day to use the car, $90 to be in it for the afternoon shoot, $169 for the broken handle, 1 tank of gas going to Odessa and 1 tank to go home, a 1 meal on the way up there. Easy and fun (but cold/wet) way to earn my Nashville gas money. As a note, it’s a football movie. Early in the morning at the hotel the “players” were loading up on the buses to head to the stadium. Looked like college players. They got paid $250 a day, and $50 a hit. They’d been filming for several weeks. At the stadium for the afternoon shoot the “players” in 80’s people clothes were just regular high school aged kids, some pretty scrawny. The production company drove around town and placed ads for 70’s and 80’s cars. Some, actually most, were pretty rough. They were paid $50 a day to either sit in the background or drive by in the background. The movie is scheduled to have its premier in Odessa on Oct 15th, the weekend they play Midland. (Odessa and Midland are both oil towns, about 20 miles apart, one is industrial and the other a little more upscale.) Large rivalry. Hope they keep my scenes! Mike- Forgot to mention how clean my car was. I got the car so clean that in some shots there was too much glare. One area was the right rear bumper. Others were the spotlights, front bumper and new headlamps, and painted area around the left spotlamp. They sprayed the area with Arrid spray deodorant and had a special little “puffer” machine to blow dust on it. The picture with the rear bumper and bumper stickers show what it looked like. So much for worrying about getting the car all cleaned up!

    Also, 2 weeks later they needed the car again. They sent a traier to come pick it up and shipped it to Odessa. No idea what the scenes were except for possibly a traffic stop out in the country. They trailered it back and I picked it up at the Astrodome where they're doing the championship game filming.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390022/ internet movie database information on this movie

http://www.kylgrafx.com/mojo/fnl.htm local Odessa info on team, school, movie, etc


1) Lights, Camera, Action!
2) Filming 1st shot from across the street
3) They covered my "Click It or Ticket" and modern recruiting bumper stickers with their own stickers. Notice all the dust on the right side.
4) Covered the current registration sticker with a reproduction sticker. So much for my new NOS spotlights I quickly installed for the movie - covered with dust.
5) Some of the script.
6) The newly elected sheriff as the Trooper.
7)With the director, Peter Berg
8) Setting up a scene
9) Filming a scene
10) Just like my time in the Navy...a lot of Hurry up and wait
11) Camera man measuring the distance from the lens to the Trooper's face
12) Setting up scene where Trooper talks to the players
13) Camera views for the shot. Notice the left screen shows his hand on the steering wheel with his state championship ring.
14) Filming the close up. (The cowboy on the right is an extra dressed in 80's clothes. We do NOT dress that way here in Texas. They'd run us out of town!)
15 Filming the close up
16) The director and actors reviewing the close up scenes. Nice 1988 gas prices!
17) Filming views from cameras inside the store
18) At the stadium in the afternoon. Sign was repainted to go with the time era.
19) Lined up between shots
20) Getting ready for the second scene at the stadium
21) Between shots of second scene. Should be a excellent close up of car with me as the Trooper/driver.
22) Another view outside the stadium
23) A second Diplomat on the scene
24) Inside the stadium facing the visitors side
25) Accident scene