SELMA, Alabama -- The streets of downtown Selma surrounding the Edmund Pettus Bridge closed today as filming began for the production of Paramount Pictures' "Selma" movie.
"Selma," which will film in the titular city through Thursday, stars David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and it culminates with the historic Selma-to-Montgomery march that eventually led President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
While most filming will take place in Atlanta, Ga., several scenes from the movie will be shot in Alabama, such as the Selma-to-Montgomery march. In addition, filmmakers are scheduled to shoot a pivotal scene where King leads civil rights demonstrators down Dexter Avenue toward the Alabama State Capitol on Friday.
For locals, the filming made getting to downtown a little
tricky, but most said
they didn't mind the inconvenience in exchange for shining a light on the city's
"I'm just excited," said Selma native Darryl Kelly. "I'm
just glad that somebody is
paying attention. We have a lot of history here. There are several things that
need to change, but I'm glad the spotlight is back on Selma."
"Selma" is directed by Ava DuVernay, and Oprah Winfrey as
well as Brad Pitt
serve as producers for the film. In addition, Winfrey announced on Sunday that
she would play the supporting role of Anna Lee Cooper, a leader in the Civil Rights movement.
Rev. Kenneth Spry, a minister from South Carolina who
visited Selma today as
part of a Civil Rights tour with his youth group, said the filming prevented the
group from getting to physically cross the bridge, but they were able to take
photos from a distance.
"We wanted to march across the bridge, but they're not
letting us get close to it
all," Spry said. "It's been a pretty closed set 'cause Oprah's in town, but we are going to get a picture of the bridge, and then we'll load up the bus."
Overall, about 500 locals were cast as extras to take part in scenes filmed in Selma and Montgomery this week. The filming serves as a rare chance for Alabama residents to see what the making of a major motion picture is like.
"I think really the most exciting part is just seeing
what goes into making
movies," said Will Atkinson, who was cast as a military police extra. "I enjoy
watching them, and it'd be cool to be in the movie, but I mostly just want to
see what the process i like."
Selma will play in limited theaters on Christmas Day before its nationwide release on Jan. 9, 2015.