COLLEGE PARK – Saturday at 5 a.m. is not a time you’d expect to see most college students awake and doing something productive.
But before dawn Saturday, about 200 students and some older adults gathered at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center at the University of Maryland, College Park ready for a day’s work as extras for the film “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.”
The movie filmed scenes in McKeldin Library and on the Holzapfel mall near McKeldin, said Ellen Ternes, a university spokeswoman.
Most of the campus remained undisturbed, with no street closures and no major office closings other than in McKeldin, Ternes said.
“National Treasure: Book of Secrets” is a sequel to the 2004 movie “National Treasure,” in which Benjamin Franklin Gates, played by Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage, tries to find treasure hidden by the Founding Fathers.
In the sequel scheduled for release in December, Gates comes to the college campus to convince his mother, a scholar of an ancient Indian language, to decode text for a mystery he would like to solve surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Actress Helen Mirren plays the mother.
Cage was at Saturday’s shoot, but Mirren was not, Ternes said.
Walt Disney Pictures had originally planned to shoot the scenes at the University of Virginia, she said, but switched to Maryland after deciding, among other things, against the farther drive from Washington to Virginia’s campus. The crew has also been shooting scenes in the nation’s capital.
A spokesman from the movie’s production company, NT2 Productions, didn’t return calls.
The film crew hit a snag when it arrived hours before the shoot to find a campus covered with a light blanket of snow, Ternes said. According to the Web site ExtrasNow, the weather setting was to have been spring. So the crew hosed down sidewalks and other areas before shooting took place, Ternes said.
The movie started filming in the Washington area during the last week of March and is scheduled to finish shooting in the area during the middle of April, according to ExtrasNow.
Many of the extras, like Mark Glucksman-Glaser, a 19-year-old UMD aerospace engineering major, were chosen from a March 12 open casting call held on campus.
Competition was stiff. “The line was wrapped around Stamp (Student Union), like, there were a lot of people there. But they moved quickly,” said Kristin Longnecker, a 21-year-old senior history and government major at Maryland. “All they did was take our pictures, and asked about the roles we wanted to play.”
Extras were cast for parts that included students, Hacky Sack players, guys playing football, frisbee and soccer, skateboarders, professors, University of Maryland police and security guards.
Glucksman-Glaser, along with Longnecker and freshman Hannah Gerlach, a math and pre-med major, sat together at a table in Orem Alumni Hall in Riggs waiting to be called.
Some extras cast as Hacky Sack players honed their skills outside to pass the time with other extras cast simply as students.
Billy Davis, a 19-year-old Prince George’s Community College theater student, was among those playing outside to kill time.
But, he said, he hopes his role as an extra turns into something big.
“I’m very interested in acting,” said Davis, adding that he wants to be the next Denzel Washington. “This part is just the beginning.”