"The very first thing that my middle child, Kinsey, [said] is, 'Mommy, that was awesome,'" Amber Blevins said about her 9-year-old daughter's initial acting experience. "That is the very first sentence that came out of her mouth. And Ali -- [who is 10] -- she walked over and she said, 'I met Jane Lynch.' That was the most exciting thing for her because their favorite movie is the 'Sleepover' and, of course, Jane Lynch is the mom. So 'awesome' was probably the [best] word to describe what they were feeling at that point."
After discovering the request for extras online, Blevins sent a photograph of her daughters, who were immediately told to attend a wardrobe fitting in Atlanta and then start working in Cartersville. Their first day of filming on June 30 lasted nine hours. Along with a generous amount of waiting between shots, the day also was filled with many highlights, including a hug from one of the actors and catching the eye of an Atlanta modeling agency.
"The girls were so excited," Blevins said. "They were just bebopping and bouncing around. They were just so, so excited about filming. They are in a scene where the three [lead characters] are saying goodbye to the orphans to go to the big city to, I guess, make some money to save the orphanage, and my daughter Kinsey actually gets hugged by Sean Hayes. And, oh my goodness gracious, that made her day.
"She just melted when that happened. ... Both of them have been wanting to do commercials and movies for a long while and this is definitely a foot in the door ... after they filmed I would have thought because it was so hot -- it was outside -- that they were just done with it, but they were so excited they immediately told my husband and I that they wanted to do this permanently."
The sisters' last day on the orphanage set is Thursday, when the production company's filming in Cartersville is scheduled to end. After shooting for about three days in May, the movie crew and cast returned to the pre-Civil War residence at 900 Old Alabama Road more than 10 days ago.
Known as the Ryals-Davis Home, the Cartersville three-story brick homeplace serves as the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage in the film, which is set for release in 2012. Directed by brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly, the movie highlights the slapstick antics of Curly, Moe and Larry, portrayed by Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos and Sean Hayes, respectively.
Situated on 300 acres, the home was built in the late 1850s by the Ryals family. According to Lehmann Smith, who is one of the property's managers, the home was spared during the Civil War because Union soldiers used the structure as a small hospital. Now restored, the home is no stranger to the film industry. Along with being featured in "The Three Stooges," it also has been utilized for the Steve Martin movie "A Simple Twist of Fate" and various made-for-TV films.
With exterior scenes being filmed at the Ryals-Davis Home, the film's publicity coordinator Ernie Malik believes the Cartersville structure "easily fits the bill" for the movie's needs.
"The Davis house doubles for an orphanage in the story. That's where the film opens," Malik said, adding the key actors commute daily from Atlanta, where they filmed the interior scenes at the Atlanta Civic Center. "The first act of the film takes place pretty much at the orphanage.
"We cut to scenes 25 to 30 years earlier when the three [lead characters] were just kids, and then we do that cut where they're grown up and they work there as maintenance workers. And at the end of the first act they have to leave to try to raise money to save the orphanage, which is about to go out of business."
Along with the Ryals-Davis Home, the film also is utilizing the nearby Woodland High School for its base camp and cafeteria. Consisting of trailers for the actors, directors, makeup and wardrobe, the base camp is located in the student parking lot. In addition to the more than $6,000 donation to the school to use its parking lot, the production company also has entered into a facility use agreement with the Bartow County School System to serve catered meals in the cafeteria, said WHS Principal Melissa Williams.
With "The Three Stooges" exhibiting a variety of local connections -- such as utilizing Bartow County actors and properties -- Regina Wheeler, deputy director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said there are numerous advantages to working with the entertainment industry. Currently, the CVB is responding to at least two inquiries a month concerning filming locations. Throughout the years, Bartow has served as a backdrop for many films and TV shows, such as "Mosquito Coast" and "I'll Fly Away."
"Economic development through overnight stays in our lodging properties -- that's our number one purpose," Wheeler said. "But in doing so, in bringing people to the community, it does bring people into our restaurants. It brings people to our catering companies. It brings business to our rental companies, gas stations. You name it, there's a large, large trickle-down effect with the tourism industry and the film industry is just one facet of that."
For Wheeler, the ideal situation would be for an iconic film to use Bartow County as its setting, thus spurring nationwide tourism for this area.
"You really want that identifiable, heartwarming plot that people will purchase on DVD, watch again and again, and maybe even become so enamored with the setting that [they] will come see where it was filmed," Wheeler said. "We really haven't had that on-location shoot, if you will, that has kind of put us on the map, much like 'Forrest Gump' might have done for Savannah or prior to that [it] was the 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' that had so much historic character with their squares. ... So if we can ever wind up in the credits and show the true character of our community, I think it will be fantastic."