For the past few weeks, San Francisco has been abuzz with movie talk. Gus Van Sant is in town making a biopic about Harvey Milk, the SF supervisor, and probably the first openly gay elected official in history, who was assassinated along with the mayor by another board member in 1978. Part of the history of gay liberation in the City is marches, protests, and celebrations in the streets. Hundreds of volunteers came out last week to recreate some of these mass events for the cameras, a good number of whom had participated in the actual events 30 years ago.
They'd restored the theater marquee, unrenovated store fronts, and parked 60s and 70s cars on the streets. After being introduced to some cast and crew (James Franco--swoon) and watching an earlier documentary about Milk, hundreds of extras filled the intersection of Castro and 17th, where bright lights were shining down from the rooftops on every side. They lit some shots with piercing smokey flares, making it seem dramatic even before the music is added.
There was also a lot of standing around, but it was pretty interesting seeing the movie-making process first-hand. And I got to see Sean Penn in a couple shots.
I found myself standing right next to Emile Hirsch, and saw gay icons Cleve Jones and Gilbert Baker. At one point Carrie Fisher even showed up to promote her one-woman stage show. Overall, a pretty cool thing to be a part of.