Packers movie has fun on, off the set

Kendra Meinert
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Actor Ryan Churchill, who plays Zagger, tosses a package while filming a scene for "The Sixty Yard Line" in the Green Bay Press-Gazette newsroom on Wednesday. The cast and crew will wrap up local filming on the Packers-themed romantic comedy on Tuesday.

Mark Tauscher cleared the ceiling (just barely) in his basement scenes. The artificial turf arrived by rush order just in time. Titletown Brewing Co. bottled plenty of Green 19 IPA.

So far, so good on the set of “The Sixty Yard Line.”

Local filming for the romantic comedy about how one man’s love for the Green Bay Packers gets between him and his girl continues to roll in Green Bay and Ashwaubenon, with cast and crew putting in 12-hour days to capture all they need from Titletown before they pack up their cameras and head back to Los Angeles.

The two-week shoot, which comes to a close on Tuesday, has been primarily focused at a house near Lambeau Field. In the movie, the main character of Ben “Zagger” Zagowski blows his wedding money on buying a house near the stadium to park cars and host tailgate parties on Packers game days. Scenes shot there included dozens of Packers fan extras and an impressive array of extreme tailgating vehicles in the yard to recreate a game-day atmosphere.

Inside the house, cocktail hour scenes featuring Packers fullback John Kuhn and former offensive tackle Mark Tauscher — as themselves — were filmed in the basement. Former Packers running back Ahman Green also appears as himself in the movie, taking the place of former Packers offensive tackle Chad Clifton, who was unable to make the shoot from his home in Tennessee.

The players aced their scenes, said Beloit native Ryan Churchill, who plays Zagger. He co-wrote and is co-producing the movie with fellow actor Nick Greco, who's also in the movie.

“They were great,” he said. “I can’t wait for everybody to see that stuff. Very funny.”

Churchill was nervous while acting next to Kuhn and Tauscher.

“The scene I had with them, I actually had to talk football, like nerdy football stuff, so it was very nerve-wracking to come up on that scene, because there was a basement full of 25 extras and then those two guys and ... I had very difficult football-speak lines with them, so it was daunting."

Packers movie makes its own game-day party

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief that the 7-foot ceiling in the basement provided just enough clearance for Tauscher to not have to duck. Equally so when they found turf grass for another scene. What they thought would just be a quick prop run across town turned into a scavenger hunt.

The crew wanted not the green turf-like carpet used at miniature golf courses but something thicker that actually resembled turf grass. In Los Angeles, where Churchill lives, it's everywhere.

“We have the drought, so if you tear up your lawn and replace it with fake grass, you get a kickback. So there’s tons of it in L.A. I live right by Home Depot and when you walk in there, there’s literally an entire row of it,” he said.

But finding the fake stuff in the land of the famed “frozen tundra of Lambeau Field” wasn’t so easy. Churchill joked that’s probably because people here “can actually grow grass, and there’s a big lake right there.”

The crew’s art department and production designer jumped thorough hoops to get it shipped in from a man who was happy to help in hopes it would make it into the movie. There was that same eagerness from the man who owns a motorized picnic table and was willing to drive two hours for it to be in the game-day party scene.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette newsroom will be a printing company in the movie. The majority of local filming for "The Sixty Yard Line" is being done at a house near Lambeau Field. The crew expects to return to Green Bay to get footage of snow on the ground.

“The Sixty Yard Line” spent two days filming at the Green Bay Press-Gazette, which will be the setting of the fictional printing company at which Zagger and his fiancee work, complete with a “bad guy” boss. Scenes featuring Lea Thompson will be shot in Los Angeles, after the “Back to the Future” actress is done directing a project written by her daughter, Churchill said.

A scene requiring a cow in the kitchen of the house near Lambeau will come this winter when the crew returns briefly for filming with snow on the ground. (And yes, there will be a backup cow, in case their first choice proves uncooperative.)

The Packers' game against the San Diego Chargers game on Oct. 18 was a chance to get Packers fans on camera, talking about what going to Packers games means to them and whether a game has ever interfered with their family life.

“We got some great stories,” Churchill said.

The low-budget independent project will spend the next year in post-production for editing, color correcting, sound mixing, composing and other work. Depending on whether it gets into film festivals, it should hit the market about this time in 2016, Churchill said.

He’s eager to get back to Los Angeles sunshine — “We’ve been pretty cold a few days,” he said — and his own home. He and four others have been living in the filming house.

“We wake up in the morning and we are on set, which is good but bad, because it’s messy. The set is always moving so wherever you just left just stays a mess, so you wake up in the morning to a lot of empty beer bottles.”

Some of those bottles are probably from Titletown Brewing Co., which is providing product placement in the movie.

“I’ve been mainlining Green 19 (IPA),” Churchill said. “It’s my favorite.”

kmeinert@pressgazettemedia.com and follow her on Twitter @KendraMeinert.

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