Amherst Magazine

Willing to Grow Hair (Starting Now)

imageReal hippies at the real Woodstock.By Emily Gold Boutilier

Inside Keefe Campus Center, things were not going well for the two men seated beneath a handmade sign. 

Movie Extras Wanted, the sign proclaimed, in red marker.

Shaun Duffy and Spencer Mondshein had come to Amherst in search of a few good hippies. Specifically, the movie casting pros needed extras for a new Ang Lee film, Taking Woodstock, being made in tiny Lebanon, N.Y., near the Berkshires.

The good news: a crowd had formed in Keefe. The bad news: the line was for the next table over, the one giving away stuff-your-own teddy bears.

“Interested in being in a movie?” Duffy and Mondshein asked, over and over.

“No thanks,” replied one student in line to stuff a bear.

“Not really,” said another.

So far that afternoon, 19 Amherst students had filled out the extras application, which asked about height and weight, hair and eye color and willingness to grow hair (head, body and/or facial, starting now) and to do nudity (full or partial).

A student approached. “This,” he told a friend, “is one of the things you want to do before you die—be an extra in a movie.” But neither had the time to spare.

“You have to have a whole weekday off,” Duffy explained to another student, who didn’t. 

Duffy sighed, “That always gets ’em.”

Beaten down, Duffy and Mondshein decided to abandon ship. But then Stephanie Clegg ’12 approached, speaking the magic words:  “I don’t have class on Thursdays.” One snapshot later, she became number 20 on the list of would-be Amherst extras. Next, a man in a Williams Schmilliams T-shirt signed up—and his friends did, too. Within a few minutes, the list of faux Amherst hippies had reached 30. The afternoon a mild success, Duffy and Mondshein packed up shop and drove to the next college on their list.

Photo copyright Henry Diltz / Corbis.