For the most part it felt like any other Friday night in the fall.
Stadium lights flooded the football field, the crowd was pumped up and on the edge of their seats, the cheerleaders leapt and yelled with every touchdown and players for the Everett and Cascade high school football teams were in full uniform and roaming the field just waiting to hit somebody.
But it was all a charade — for Hollywood’s sake, of course.
The Everett and Cascade football teams got the rare opportunity to be extras in a movie Sunday night and into early Monday morning and it was something the players and coaches won’t soon forget. Producers for the movie “Seven Minutes,” which has been filming scenes around Everett and Snohomish County, needed two teams to stand in for scenes depicting a game between two rival schools — fitting for old, intracity rivals Everett and Cascade.
“This is just a lot of fun,” said Everett head coach Will Soren Sunday night in between takes. “And to be able to do it with Cascade and represent Everett makes it even more special.”
The teams arrived at Arlington’s Haller Middle School at 8 p.m. Sunday night, but due to director Jay Martin’s desire for complete darkness, filming of the football scenes didn’t begin until closer to 9:30 p.m. after a number of crowd and cheerleader scenes were filmed. It was the beginning of a long night for the players and coaches, who weren’t excused by the movie’s crew until close to 4:30 a.m. Monday morning.
“It got to be pretty tedious and you had to be real patient,” Soren said of the expected long shoot. “We kept hearing ‘Reset. Do it again.’ They shot and reshot the end 15 times.
“I think it opened a lot of eyes,” added Soren of the laborious process of a Hollywood shoot. “I heard one player on the ride home say maybe he wouldn’t become an actor after all.”
On the other sideline Bruins head coach Joe Cronin was conspicuously absent (Cronin got married on Saturday night). In his stead Cascade assistant coach Eric Dinwiddie played the role of Cascade head coach and got his 15 minutes of fame in the form of a close-up shot as he called a play from the sideline. Dinwiddie deflected all of the attention, however. “It was all about the kids,” Dinwiddie said. “They had a good time so it was well worth it.”
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The opportunity for both schools was born from a relationship between Cascade teacher Michelle Crews and a costume director on the film, according to Dinwiddie. Presented with the idea, Dinwiddie said Cronin and the rest of the coaching staff jumped at the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Everett School District athletic director Robert Polk ran it past the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, which gave its blessing. The timing worked as well with teams restricted from practicing this time of year.
“The entire staff thought ‘What an experience,’” Dinwiddie said. “It’s a great thing for Cascade football and the Cascade community.”
Cascade had the greater presence throughout the shoot, having brought nearly its entire team for sideline shots. Everett, meanwhile, had just 20 players present.
Much of the early part of the night was spent running through a pair of plays the two teams had rehearsed Thursday night. One of the plays had an Everett player, Lucas Arnestad, bust through the Cascade line to sack the quarterback, played by Bruins backup Daniel Schwab. The other play was a touchdown run down the left sideline by Schwab, who spun out of three tackles en route to the score. That play, according to Soren, was a game-winning touchdown run key to the plot of the movie.
The chance to play a critical role in the film was special for Arnestad, who is expected to play a large role on this year’s Seagulls’ team.
“I was the only one that was psyched the whole time,” said the senior linebacker Arnestad, who got to “beat” good friend and Cascade center Adam Bartee on every take of the sack play. “The rest of the guys were tired and I was like ‘This is cool. I get to make a tackle on every play.’”
After the two teams ran through a number of takes of each of the plays, from close-ups on the huddle to dramatic overview shots, the stunt doubles got a chance to shine. Not that it was seamless. Schwab, who was tabbed to play the quarterback due to his resemblance to the actor who plays the signal-caller in the film, Luke Mitchell, and Arnestad both said they had to teach their stunt doubles how to get down in their stance and how to run the plays.
“The stunt double that took my spot didn’t know where to line up or how to get down in his stance,” said Arnestad. “He was doing some kind of frog stance and I was like ‘That looks weird.’”
Earlier in the night Soren and Everett assistant coaches Chris Semore and Ned Prouse gave a comical, quick clinic on how to snap the ball to a pair of the stunt doubles. “It was pretty clear they hadn’t ever seen a football before,” Soren said.
Apparently the director noticed. Soren said the producers told him that Martin was going to go with the take of the Seagulls player, Thien Ngo, getting run over on a tackle attempt on the key touchdown run instead of the stunt double’s take.
“That was really cool. He did a great job with the missed tackle,” chuckled Soren, who stressed that he hopes Ngo puts all that practice of missing tackles behind him.
By the time the early morning rolled around, the hundreds of extras in the stands — many having been there for 10 hours or more — and the players were getting restless waiting and watching the actors rehearse and run through take after take.
“I think the kids enjoyed it at first, but then the waiting and waiting took a toll,” said Dinwiddie. “They got a glimpse of how Hollywood works.”
For Schwab it was a fun experience that not only got a tad boring but had a hint of sadness. With the season just over a month away it was the first time Schwab and his senior teammates would put on their uniforms for their final season.
“It was bittersweet. I don’t know how many more times I can put on that uniform,” said Schwab. “But overall it was great. We were all talking about what it will be like to see ourselves on the big screen.”
For Everett football, which is coming off of a season in which it lost every game but one, it was a special night that allowed the kids to create a life-long memory.
“It’s one of those things they’ll be able to talk about for the rest of their lives,” Soren said. “It’s good for the community and good for Everett High School and Cascade High School. It’s just really special. They’ll be able to look back in 20, 30, 40 years and say ‘That was really cool.’”
The movie is expected to open in theaters next year.