Niagara Gazette

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March 26, 2008

MOVIES: 'Natural' party opens film fest

BUFFALO — One of the best parts of filming “The Natural” for Craig Stonebraker was seeing the filmmakers play God for an afternoon.

The Niagara Falls resident worked in the wardrobe department during the movie’s filming in the Buffalo region 25 years ago. While on location at the Buffalo Terminal to shoot a scene one afternoon, the director wanted the sun to appear to shine in from a different direction to replicate the proper time of day.

So, using giant deflectors, the crew ricocheted sunlight coming in from one window off of several mirrors to make it appear to come in from a different window.

“It was really interesting to see ... the magic of the movies,” he said.

Such were the type of stories shared Monday night by more than 100 attendees of the kickoff party of the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival at the Adam’s Mark Hotel. The soiree doubled as an official reunion for the 25th anniversary of the filming of “The Natural” in the area.

Donning a New York Knights jacket — the fictional baseball team from the film — Jim Fox of East Aurora perused the memorabilia that had been collected from Western New Yorkers who were a part of the filming, including photos, newspaper clippings and vintage memorabilia.

An extra during most of the film’s baseball shots, Fox recalled taking part in the climactic final scene, in which Robert Redford shattered the stadium lights in hitting a game-winning home run.

“We waited until 3 a.m. for Redford to come out to start shooting,” he said. “He was always late for his scenes.”

Redford was not late in making an appearance Monday, albeit not in person. In a videotaped message shown during the evening, Redford recalled his time in Buffalo, which was chosen for the filming scene because the former War Memorial Stadium was the only ballpark they could find to meet the film’s needs.

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