Over 4,000 signed up as extras in Spike Lee’s “Chiraq”

Extras applicants line up outside St. Sabina’s church Saturday

More than 4,000 people showed up at St. Sabina Academy and church on the South Side Saturday to sign up as extras in Spike Lee’s “Chiraq,” due to start shooting in the next two weeks. 

4Star Casting widely publicized the call for African Americans to be employed throughout the upcoming six week filming schedule.

While not a record breaker the number of hopefuls was impressive. Besides the allure of being in a movie, even if it’s just a face in the crowd scene, “the director’s name carries weight,” notes David O’Connorof O’Connor Casting, “and draws a lot of people, who for that reason will work for peanuts, or it may be they want to be part of a tent pole production, like ‘Transformers’ or ‘Superman.’”

An extras casting call for “Transformers” shooting in Chicago in 2013 drew 2,000 hopefuls for extras roles, O’Connor recalls.

St. Sabina’s Rev. Michael Pfleger, a staunch supporter of Spike Lee and his anti-violence movie, acted as community liaison Saturday. 

He told the Sun-Times, that Lee, “a credible director, one of the best we got,” deserves a standing ovation for coming into an African American community to cast people for a movie dealing with African American issues.

“Does it get any better than that?” he asked.

Concerned filmmakers last week phoned South Side Ald. Will Burns’ office to tell him why his demand to deny Lee Illinois tax credit is a bad idea. Burns feels the “Chiraq” title will have a negative economic impact on the South Side.

Actually, the movie will be an economic boon for the entire city. The 2.7 trickle-down effect from its $15-$18 million production spend will put $40 million into the local economy.