Friday Night Lights Goes South
Well, not really. But a Friday Night Lights film production unit was in Brownsville and popular party spot (and natural wonder) South Padre Island, Texas, last week to shoot scenes for the series, according to news reports.
Cast and crew spent a fews days filming in Cameron County parks on the Island, said assistant county parks director Joe Vega, who took in some of the action.
"We're glad they are going to feature our beautiful beaches on their show, even though (this episode) is supposed to be set in Mexico," he said.
This is for the episode in which Tim Riggins, Lyla Garrity and Jason Street decide to take a road trip south of the border. While South Padre is still in Texas, it's remote and about as close (geographically) to Mexico as one can get.
Austinite John Patterson, locations manager for the series, said his group includes more than 80 people. Three of the show's stars - the three who take the trip - came with the crew: Taylor Kitch, Scott Porter and Minka Kelly.
"Ninety-five percent of our crew are Texans," said Patterson, a graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, where the show films the majority of its footage. "It's possible we may shoot more sequences here in Texas."
"It gives us national exposure," he said. "Also, they hire local help, stay at local hotels and eat in local restaurants."
The Friday Night Lights group stayed at the Radisson while filming on the Island, with production crews arriving last Sunday.
"They increased our occupancy by about 60 to 70 percent over normal for this time of year," said Daniel Salazar, the hotel's assistant manager. "Ordinarily, we're only at about 30 percent occupancy."
On Thursday afternoon, the group was shooting in downtown Brownsville, the Southernmost town in Texas, at Market Square and 11th Street.
Blocked off by police, Market Square had been converted into a scene from Mexico. Signs were in Spanish, the street was lined with vendors in small booths and pushcarts, and the auto license plates were from Mexico.
A hundred extras, most of them locals, milled around the square. Actors dressed like Mexican policemen stood in the street, directing pedestrian and auto traffic.
An old pickup truck at one end of the street had the hood up and was equipped with a device rigged to shoot steam into the air on cue.
Patterson stood away from the action, chatting with a young Brownsville policeman.
"We're really glad you picked Brownsville for a location," the cop told him. "We hope you come back often."
"We've certainly enjoyed the hospitality," Patterson said. "Our people have made this week one big South Padre party. We hate to have to move on."
"We'll shoot this over and over again," he said, explaining how tough filming can be. "Then the director will cut, splice and edit until he has exactly what he wants. With a scene involving this many people, we may spend three hours shooting to get only a few seconds of on-screen footage that will be used in the show."
The cast and crew were scheduled to leave Friday for their next location, a town near Abilene, back in the heart of West Texas (where fictional Dillon is set).