Teenage girls don't usually look forward to waking up early, especially during summer vacation. But several girls were up early in Hampton Monday and Tuesday to participate in the filming of "Abduction," a movie starring teen heartthrob Taylor Lautner and Lily Collins. Hampton High School was the setting for several scenes for the movie being filmed here. Members of the student band, wrestling team and cheerleading squad were used in scenes for extras, along with the classroom, gymnasium and outside settings of the school.
The district was recruited by Lionsgate films earlier this year to serve as the high school where Mr. Lautner's character will be a student. Unlike many film sets, the high school's name will be used, and the district mascot, the Talbot, will be featured in the film.
Jeff Finch, principal at the high school, said the school fit the bill as a setting for the movie.
"The producers were looking for a community setting like ours. They have been great for us to work with," Mr. Finch said. Early on, the producers decided to keep the school's name and use Hampton students in scenes such as the wrestling matches and classroom settings.
"When they were filming a scene when [Mr. Lautner] was riding away on a motorcycle, they asked me what normally would be happening outside and I told them the band would be practicing. They decided to use our band in the background for that scene," he said.
Band teacher Chad Himmler put out a call for volunteers from the band and more than 120 students signed up. Melissa Adams, 17, was among them.
"I was so excited, I could hardly sleep, then got up really early," she said. Melissa, her 15-year-old brother, Ed, and other band members were at school by 8:30 a.m. but weren't in a scene until around 2 p.m. Since they weren't allowed to have cell phones -- or anything else with cameras -- those without watches had no way of knowing what time it was. "It was a long day, but we were able to walk around the school," Melissa said.
Unlike many of her bandmates, Melissa got to see the young star up close. "We were sitting in the cafeteria and he walked right by us, about a foot away. He smiled and said 'hi' to us," she said.
Although the band was there until almost 8 p.m., it was worth it, Melissa said. "When will I ever have the chance to be in a movie with Taylor Lautner again?"
Other teens, mostly young women, also camped across the road from the high school on McCully Road as early as 6 a.m. in hope of seeing the star, whose career has exploded since the release of the "Twilight" series of teen vampire movies.
Marlee Bickwell, 13, of Hampton, and her friends painted a large sign on a sheet that said "Welcome Taylor" and waited in the hot sun for hours. Their patience paid off when Mr. Lautner came out to the crowd, numbering about 75 at that point, signed a few autographs and posed for photos. Although he was there for only about five minutes, according to Soni Bickwell, Marlee's mother, the girls were thrilled. "It is great fun for them and fun as a mother to watch," she said.
High school mathematics teacher and wrestling coach Joe Bursick had a special role serving as a consultant to Mr. Lautner, teaching him wrestling moves for a few scenes in the movie. Mr. Bursick worked with Mr. Lautner in five one-hour sessions to prepare him for his role as a high school wrestler. "This has been a lot of fun and he is a really nice young man," Mr. Bursick said, "but the best part is that our guys will be in the movie as his teammates."
Fox Chapel Area wrestling team will serve as opponents. Hampton wrestler Jake Hart is slated to wrestle Mr. Lautner.
Despite the friendly atmosphere of the film set, there was a lot of secrecy surrounding filming. There was no clearance for media at the high school and strict security policies were followed. Minor students could be accompanied by an adult, but students were asked not to share any information about the movie plot or to talk about what happens behind the scenes. Security was noticeable at all school property entrances, and personnel asked the crowd to keep the noise level down for outside scenes.
Lionsgate worked very hard to keep the "true feel" of Hampton High School, Mr. Finch said. "They are using our art room to film the classroom settings and will film the wrestling match in our gymnasium. They have also asked us if they could leave student artwork on the walls for the filming," he said.
Alexis Katsafanas was thrilled to learn some of her art would be on the cafeteria walls in the movie. "It feels surreal that when I watch the new movie, I might possibly see my very own artwork hanging in the background," she said.
Ms. Katsafanas and other Hampton students will have to wait a long time to see the movie. According to Lionsgate publicist Will Casey, a release date has yet to be announced.
Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org