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Ready for their closeup
Locals experience trials, tribulations of moviemaking as extras on The Last Song
07.14 last song 1
Brooke Sanders, left, and Haley Harvard, right, endured a long day in the heat for their scenes as extras in the Miley Cyrus film “The Last Song.” The movie is in production now on Tybee Island, and Sanders and Harvard hope to get called back for the wedding scene next week. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

Show biz, as Haley Harvard and Brooke Sanders found out, is hard work — even when you’re an extra on a movie set.

Harvard and Sanders spent a long, hot day on the set of “The Last Song,” the movie currently in production on Tybee Island starring teen sensation Miley Cyrus. The movie is being directed by Julie Anne Robinson and Nicholas Sparks — who also wrote the screenplay for “The Notebook” — penned the screenplay for the “The Last Song.”

Getting in the movie was Harvard’s idea — and Sanders obliged.

The two work together at Salon Retreat in Rincon, and Harvard had entered her name into a prospective casting call.

“They called me the Saturday before,” she said. “I was just interested in being an extra — what the heck. It would be so cool to be an extra.”

When the casting directors asked if she knew anyone 15 or older who also might be interested, she had Sanders in mind.

“They said to make sure you can confirm, and see you Monday,” Harvard said.

But that Monday also was one of the hottest days of the summer so far. Temperatures soared into triple digits, and there was little relief from the heat, even on the shores of Tybee as the temperature there reached 96 degrees.

“We were out there all day long in the sun,” Harvard said.

Their day started at 5:30 a.m., meeting the bus at Whitemarsh Middle School that took them to the Tybee YMCA for hair, makeup and wardrobe. It ended more than 12 hours later, after high winds swept through the set around 6 p.m.

And scenes, no matter how short, are shot and re-shot.

“We had to do a scene 30 times,” she said.

For Sanders, the day was more than long and hot. She became ill from the heat.  

“I ran off the set. It was so hot,” she said. “I’ve never felt sick because of the heat, but that day, it was so hot.”

The crew, though, did its best to help everyone on the set withstand the conditions, Harvard and Sanders said.

“They were great about getting us drinks all day long,” Harvard said. “They had snacks and little misters we could stand in front of.”

The extras were told to drink plenty of water before they got to the set, Sanders and Harvard said, and they added they heard 25 people had been hospitalized the week before because of the heat.

“We must have drank 30 Dasanis each that day,” Harvard said.

It was so hot that day, in fact, “they had to hose off the sand for the volleyball players,” Sanders said.

Sanders and Harvard were some of the 500 extras on the set that day, but they managed to secure a prime spot during the filming of the volleyball scene. They sat on the first row of the bleachers set up alongside the volleyball pit on the beach.

Not that that position wasn’t without its dangers, either.

“I reached down to get my phone and got hit in the face with a volleyball,” Sanders sheepishly admitted.

Before that scene, Harvard and Sanders were walking the background and the directors stressed “continuity,” Harvard said. “If you have a beach bag on your left shoulder, it stays there the whole day.”

They were moved from bleacher to bleacher as well and watched as cameramen shot every possible angle of the volleyball as it rested on the Tybee sand.

“It’s cool to see,” Sanders said.

“It was amazing to watch,” Harvard added.

Also as part of the duties as extras, Harvard and Sanders had to go shopping in the Crocs tent as they carried a cooler around.

“We spent two hours shopping for crocs,” Harvard said.

Harvard’s day wasn’t free from injury, either. She cut her toe on a shell, requiring a band-aid, and also got hit by debris blown by the winds.

“And when the set started flying around, her knee was bleeding,” Sanders said.

As particular as the crew was about continuity, they were just as fastidious, if not more so, about the wardrobe for each extra. Extras couldn’t

wear certain colors on the set and anyone who did was sent back to change clothes immediately.

“They were very strict about what people could wear,” Harvard said.

The extras finally got to the beach about 8 a.m. that day to begin filming. They didn’t get into scenes with Miley Cyrus, but they saw Cyrus’ mother and grandmother, the latter of whom had on headphones and watched the just-completed scenes.

“It’s so weird. That’s their normal life, to go to the movie set,” Harvard said.

They also got a chance to watch the star perform in her scenes, complete with a covering shielding Cyrus from the sun even as the cameras rolled.

“It was neat watching Miley act with her dad and brother,” Harvard said. “It’s crazy all the stuff surrounding her when she acts.”

Getting to meet Cyrus on the set, however, wasn’t in the script, at least not for that day.

“You couldn’t go up to her,” Sanders said.

“When they’re filming,” added Harvard, “it’s serious business. It was good we met her like we did.”

Sanders and Harvard met Cyrus late one night on Tybee, before they reported to duty as extras, getting the star to pose for a cell phone picture with them.

“I was nervous,” Harvard said.

But they came away impressed with how Cyrus handles her stardom.

“She really loves the kids,” Sanders said.

With the volleyball scene done, which included several other Effingham residents, Sanders and Harvard may get called back for the wedding scene, scheduled to be shot next week. It’s a call they would love to answer, even after a very long and very hot day on the beach.

“It was fun,” Sanders said. “It was a long day. It seemed like a weekend. But it was fun. everyone had a great time.”

“It was a fun experience,” Harvard said.

The movie is scheduled for a January release — and Sanders and Harvard are anxious to see the finished product, especially with their scenes.

“I can’t wait to see the movie,” Sanders said.