Using Pete as set, ‘Warrior’ film offers prizes to extras

By Andy Tybout

Saturday, May 30

Petersen Events Center

10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

For full instructions, call the… Saturday, May 30

Petersen Events Center

10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

For full instructions, call the Extras hotline at: 1-866-204-0621

It’s a common dream among Americans to be featured in a major motion picture, and college students are no exception. But for most students, brief close-ups during ESPN sports events will be the only media exposure they get.

That is, unless they take advantage of movies filmed in Pittsburgh — like the upcoming “Warrior” special filming event to be held in the Petersen Events Center this Saturday.

Directed by Gavin O’Connor (“Pride and Glory,” “Miracle”), Lionsgate Studios’ “Warrior” tells the story of Tommy, an emotionally scarred ex-Marine who returns to Pittsburgh to compete in a Mixed Martial Arts tournament. He enlists his father — scarred by his own alcoholism — to be his coach.

Unfortunately, Tommy’s estranged brother, Brendan — a former MMA fighter — also enters the competition to provide for his struggling family. Soon, as the two siblings move on an inevitable collision course toward each other, the tournament becomes as much a test of their past relationship as it does their fighting skills.

The movie stars Nick Nolte (“Tropic Thunder,” “Hotel Rwanda”), Jennifer Morrison (“House,” “Star Trek”), Tom Hardy (“RocknRolla”) and Joel Edgerton (“Smokin’ Aces”).

MMA — a style of fighting that combines boxing, wrestling, jujitsu and other disciplines — has become increasingly popular, not only on television but also in movies. And as one can imagine, MMA movies feature fight scenes that include footage of the spectators.

That’s where Saturday’s event comes into play. For one day, participants will have the opportunity to be extras in an arena crowd scene, alongside the movie’s stars and professional athletes. And if that’s not enough motivation for Pitt students to attend the event, a variety of special events, including a raffle for prizes ranging from iPods to flat screen TVs to a new Ford Ranger truck, will occur throughout the day.

There’s also a community angle. For every extra that attends, the production will make a donation toward the Pittsburgh Fallen Heroes Fund, a service that provides financial support for the families of the three officers killed in the Stanton Heights shooting in April.

The production crew will announce the total donation amount after the event.

You don’t even have to be a fan of MMA or Nick Nolte to get involved. Matt Strauskulage, a Pitt sophomore, said he became an extra in “Warrior” because of the film’s location.

“When I saw it was on campus, that was really close to home at the time,” Strauskulage said. “It was right there for me.”

Despite some initial confusion during the previous week’s filming days, Strauskulage said he’s eager to move forward in the screenings.

“I’m supposed to be doing some filming next weekend, and I am really excited for that,” Strauskulage said.

To be in the crowd scene, just show up and sign a filming release. Students under 18 should bring a parent with them.