LEWISTON, Maine — Almost three years after St. Patrick’s Church closed its doors, the vacant downtown building will host a coronation.
The makers of “Richard 3″ — a movie comedy of Shakespeare’s scheming, humpbacked King Richard III — aims to pack hundreds of extras into the former Catholic church for the key scene.
“It will be the biggest scene we’ve tried since shooting began,” said Michael Miclon, the Buckfield entertainer who began shooting Aug. 1. He wrote, directed and stars in the low-budget film.
He has about 200 people signed on to fill the century-old structure overlooking Kennedy Park in downtown Lewiston. He wants more.
“Ideally, I’d like to have about 800 people,” Miclon said.
Anyone wishing to sign on is invited to send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
People who express an interest will be sent a questionnaire to fill out concerning costumes. In some cases, people will be outfitted from head to foot. Along with the emailed form, people will be given information about the Wednesday evening shoot and what to expect.
Filming is scheduled to begin around 5 p.m. and will likely last three or four hours.
Anyone who signs on ought to be prepared for movie production’s hurry-up-and-wait pace.
However, Miclon hopes to make it as pleasant as possible. Performers will entertain the crowd between takes and light snacks will be available. The first-time director also is trying to keep the workload light.
“We want to keep it simple,” he said. “It’ll be sitting and standing and cheering and then they go home.”
Originally, Miclon had hoped to shoot the coronation in the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. He was given permission by the church, but it was withdrawn when local church leaders discovered that such a use would violate rules.
It was a blow, but church officials offered up St. Patrick’s as an alternative.
The basilica’s scale and grandeur would have looked impressive on screen, Miclon said. However, it would have looked anemic with a small crowd.
“St. Patrick’s is still a beautiful church and it’s still got enough grandeur,” Miclon said.
So far, the movie production has gone well, he said.
Since shooting began last week, he has filmed at Fort Popham in Phippsburg and at several locations in Buckfield, including the Oddfellow Theater. Miclon, who founded the theater, adapted the movie script from a play he first produced on its stage.
He has been consistently impressed by the actors and crew, he said.
“It is actually exceeding my expectations, and I had really high expectations,” he said. “We’ve been getting amazing stuff.”
Plans call for shooting to last about 30 days in total. Then he’ll begin editing with his co-editor and director of photography, Jay Childs.
The pair plans to submit the finished movie to the Sundance Film Festival.
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