Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Students from county high schools take part in ‘State of Play’

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When the film ‘‘State of Play” debuts in theaters sometime next year, a group of local high school students will join actors Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams for some brief, but well-rehearsed screen time.

Marching band and color guard members from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring and Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville were invited by casting directors to perform in the background of one of the movie’s scenes as it was being filmed in Washington, D.C., March 20.

‘‘I feel really excited,” said Christina Heng, a senior member of the Paint Branch winter guard. ‘‘I can’t wait until it comes out.”

‘‘State of Play” is a crime story set in the 1970s about the murder of a congressman’s mistress and the police detective and investigative reporters who work together to solve it, according to the International Movie Database. It is based on a BBC series of the same name and co-stars Ben Affleck.

About 50 students in the Montgomery Blair marching band and 20 from the Blair and Paint Branch winter guards were filmed in front of the Scottish Rite Freemason temple on 16th Street in the District during a scene in which Crowe and McAdams walk down the street having a conversation.

The actors pause at one point to look at the band, but they don’t interact with the students.

‘‘It was tempting,” said Jessica Tran, a junior in the Paint Branch color guard. ‘‘I had to keep my eyes straight because we’re not supposed to look at them as they come by.”

The combined color guard, which wore custom-made uniforms provided by the studio, performed rifle drills and twirls while the marching band, wearing their own red and white uniforms, played Blair’s fight song. During some scenes, the band was told to pretend to play so the actors’ dialogue could be heard and the music dubbed over later.

‘‘There wasn’t marching involved; we just kind of stood there,” said junior Mandy Brown, who plays piccolo in the Montgomery Blair band.

‘‘We took some mini-breaks, but we mostly played the song over and over,” said Beyhan Ibici, also a junior piccolo player from Blair.

Sean Kirchhoff, the instrumental music director at Paint Branch, said the studio sent a bus to pick up the students and gave them breakfast and lunch. Filming lasted from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

‘‘I’m not sure how it’s going to come out,” he said.

Tran said she and her classmates are looking forward to seeing themselves on the big screen.

‘‘We’re all planning to go to the movie theater and scream when our part comes up,” she said.