'Safe Haven' in friendship

Feb. 15, 2013 @ 05:58 PM

Six women from Vance County got to experience a brief moment of stardom, watching themselves dance on the big screen during Thursday night’s premier of Safe Haven.

The women, all from Henderson, have been going to a movie together every Wednesday night for the past five years.

Their opportunity to appear in a scene of Safe Haven, staring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel, came about after Kate Badger Lumpkin, daughter of the group’s Sally Badger, joined the six for dinner.

When Lumpkin returned home to Alabama, she told her husband, Scott Lumpkin, a film producer who worked on the set of Safe Haven, about the delightful group of movie enthusiasts of which her mother was a part.

Subsequently Scott invited the six — Badger, Ida Cranz, Jerry Williams, Maria Mills, Becky Harvin and Susan Whitten — to stay at a house in Southport for three days while the movie was being filmed. He also asked them to participate in the film, a dance scene that occurs after a community parade.

Safe Haven is based on the 2010 love-story novel by Nicholas Sparks, a well-known author from New Bern. It is the eighth novel by Sparks adapted for Hollywood.

Scott Lumpkin, who was responsible for budgeting film expenses on the set of Safe Haven, rented 50 houses in Southport and built the convenient store that Duhamel’s character manages in the movie.

“He wanted to shoot at a real store in Southport, and they wanted $1 million, so he built his own store,” Williams said. “He had to build it to code, so it had running water and electricity. I think he ended up paying $20,000.”

Tom Badger, Sally’s husband, was also a part of the stay in Southport, and recalled interesting details from the movie set.

“The store that burned, they had propane pipes wrapped around the store, and when it went up in flames, it was really just the propane burning,” Tom said. “It’s a fun business. I can understand how they really just get wrapped up in it.”

Tom explained Scott Lumpkin had to go before the city of Southport several times to assure them that the 200-year-old oaks behind the store would not be harmed during the fire. For protection they were blanketed with a shield of water during the scene.

“When we saw the burned down building it really looked burned down,” Williams said. “But, they tore down part of the store and black paint made it look burned.”

During the dance scene, applause was heard in the theater when the women finally saw themselves on the big screen, nearly a year after filming.

“To actually be down there, seeing them film the movie, and then to sit here seeing ourselves be part of it was really fabulous,” Whitten said. “Spending time being part of a movie and seeing ourselves in it, it’s been rich for our friendship.”

Williams only saw a glimpse of herself during the movie, but has memories from filming that will last a lifetime.

“I barely saw myself, it was truly a fleeting glimpse, but more importantly it was just fun to be there as an extra, and fun to be with best friends for so long,” Williams said. “We can all be excited together and have lots to talk about later.”

Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com.