"Friday Night Lights" Are Shining Bright In Odessa - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/5/04

"Friday Night Lights" Are Shining Bright In Odessa

Lights... camera... Odessa! Hollywood crews have moved into West Texas for filming of the movie "Friday Night Lights." The movie is based on the book that was written about the 1988 Odessa Permian football team, and how a divided town, with growing economic struggles all came together on Friday nights.

NewsChannel 11's Ashley Rodriquez travelled to the movie set in Odessa to get the story. Ratliff stadium is the home of the Odessa Permian Panthers, and also home to one of the sets for the movie "Friday Night Lights."

Meet Director Peter Berg: "I was a big fan of the book. I played high school football and I thought it was one of the most mature and complex looks at high school football that I'd ever read. I thought it was one of the few books that talked about high school sports and really captured all of the elements of it, the good, the bad, the family elements of it, the friendships and in a pretty sophisticated way captured what it's like to be 17, 18 years old and playing in front of your whole community," said Berg.

Peter Berg and a crew of about 200 have moved into Odessa for the next three weeks, Berg said it was an expensive decision but to him it was the only way to truly capture the feel for the movie.

"It was really important for us to come shoot in Odessa. It costs a little more money and the studio wasn't thrilled about it but it's so unique and so wide open and I think really quite beautiful", Berg said.

But there are challenges, on day one of making this movie they had to battle the West Texas weather. It went from raining all morning to cold and windy, all the while they are trying to depict Odessa football in August. But capturing true football is what Berg says is the hardest part. The crew spent more than four hours filming one play on day one. Making sure every detail is perfect; from the play itself, to the camera shots, to the Odessa extras playing die hard Permian fans, in the stands.

"They had a sign up looking for extras in the movie Friday Night Lights and I thought, movies don't come to Odessa except for once in my lifetime so," Melvin Allison, an Odessa 'extra' said.

"West Texas is football. I mean this is it, everybody lives for Friday nights. When its' football everybody goes. On any given Friday night you'll have anywhere from 18-20k people. Permian football is just a part of life around here," Odessa 'extra' Cliff Davis said.

And it's that part of life and passion for the game that producers hope to showcase in this movie. Depicting how the culture of West Texas is intertwined with high school football, under the Friday night lights.

Billy Bob Thornton and Tim McDraw both star in Friday Night Lights , the movie is scheduled to hit theaters in October. And if you haven't read the book, it's been named the 'Best Football Book Ever' by Sports Illustrated. You can pick up a copy at Barnes and Noble or Hastings for about $15.

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