Hundreds flock to South Mecklenburg High for ‘Ashby’ filming

Nearly 500 people trekked to South Mecklenburg High School on Sunday to play a role, however small, in the upcoming Mickey Rourke film, “Ashby.”

The crowd, which was promised a free hot dog lunch and a chance to rub elbows with the cast, didn’t quite fill the home side of the football stadium, but when the director commanded, they made the early morning gloom feel almost like Friday night.

“I just wanted to cross this off my bucket list,” said Emily Houpt, 19, during a break in the shooting. She was one of hundreds of Charlotteans to show up before 7 a.m. dressed in red and black to cheer on a fictional team.

The movie also stars Nat Wolff, Emma Roberts and Sarah Silverman. According to movie database IMDB.com, the comedy-drama follows a high school student who befriends a retired CIA assassin “who only has a few months left to live.” It’s due out next year.

The film crew tweaked the South Meck football stadium to turn it into the home of Varga Prep High School, where the teenage protagonist of the film spends his days. They kept the Sabres mascot intact.

In the morning session, current South Meck players and cheerleaders dotted the field, interspersed with actors and crew. The teams lined up for plays where a receiver caught the ball and ran out of bounds. They ran plays where he went deep for a long pass down the sideline. They ran several takes of a play where he drops the ball.

“You’re going to have to get crazy with it and get wild,” a man on the intercom exhorted the crowd. “You guys are crazy; you guys are excited! This is your team!”

After an hour of shooting scenes with the red-clad Varga Sabres playing a team in black jerseys, the call went out: Does anybody have any green clothing in their car?

“It’s the normal ‘hurry up and wait,’ ” said Gary N. Paige, 55. He said he drove up from Wilmington for “the thrill of the film.”

The movie has been filming in the Charlotte area for weeks. In late June, the crew slowed traffic in uptown to film a scene on Tryon Street near The Square and the library.

The Facebook page for the company doing local casting says this is the last week of filming.

“It’s going to be cool to see the movie and how they edit it together,” said Bobby Lindsay, 44, who was at the stadium on Sunday with 13-year-old daughter Payton.