Does art imitate life?
Just as Port Coquitlam student Hannah Rao is planning for her graduation this spring, a movie about prom season is being shot at her school.
Rao is excited that, for the first time in two years, Grade 12 students in School District 43 get to have in-person graduation events.
But just as prom season heats up at Terry Fox Secondary School in Port Coquitlam, along comes a chance to be an extra in a new Disney+ movie, Prom Pact, being shot at her school.
According to a description in What's on Disney+, Prom Pact is a romantic comedy set during the "emotion and excitement" of high school prom season.
The film stars Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Milo Manheim and Margaret Cho.
It will also star Blake Draper, Monique Green, Arica Himmel, Jason Sakaki and David S. Jung.
It's a story about high school romance when two complete opposites — a high school jock and a serious student who wants to get into Harvard — have to work together to achieve a goal.
"I was curious about it," said Rao, who was one of more than 50 students who were paid to be extras in the movie shot over spring break and a couple of days this week.
Rao, a member of Fox's winning girls' basketball team that recently won their school's first AAAA senior girls basketball championship, said she was thrilled at the opportunity to witness a movie being made first hand, while also making some extra cash.
"I thought it was interesting that they were filming at our school," Rao said.
Rao and Grade 10 student Brayden Morgan were among 50 students who were extras in the movie that takes place in a U.S. high school setting.
During filming, the school was unrecognizable, the students say, because it was modified to look like an American high school, complete with posters celebrating "The Bulldogs."
The Terry Fox athletic team name is the Terry Fox Ravens.
Among the scenes the students were included were in hallways and at a high school dance, where lights were dimmed and popular dance music was played.
However, the students can't say much more about what happened because of confidentiality agreements they signed.
The hours were long — up to 13 hours a day— and re-shooting the scenes was "repetitive," said Morgan.
But it was fun seeing the actors do their jobs and getting an idea of what it's like to be a professional actor.
"On the screen, you look up at them and like they're an idol but they're just human when you see them," said Rao.
"I want to do more acting," said Morgan.
Their principal, David Starr, was an extra in the movie, too. He played a teacher.
Starr said having the movie filmed at the school was a welcome reprieve after two years of COVID-19 restrictions and, basically, "no fun."
He told the Tri-City News that the director was great to work with and there were no problems, even though shooting continued over two days this week while classes were in session.
Anya Adams (Ginny & Georgia) is directing the movie, which was written by Anthony Lombardo (American Housewife).
"After two years wearing masks and being locked down and having no fun and all of a sudden you've got Disney at your school, it's pretty exciting," Starr said.
Although filming continued for Monday and Tuesday this week, Starr said there were no problems.
The shooting was contained to the Terry Fox Theatre, while mobile dressing rooms and other equipment were in parking and unused areas of pavement outside.
There was some push back, however.
One parent with a son at the school complained to the Tri-City News that the movie shoot was disruptive to learning and took up student parking, while students were told to be quiet because of the money it costs to re-shoot a scene.
The parent asked that their name not be published for privacy reasons.
However, Starr said he wasn't aware of any issues with students and noted that the only classrooms near the shooting were the home ec rooms.
"I've got nothing but good things to say about the director and production company," he said, adding that "a lot of work was done behind the scenes" to make sure there was no disruption to learning.
"And we're happy they had the foresight to ask our kids to be extras," Starr said.
Terry Fox Secondary wasn't the only location for Prom Pact.
Both Port Coquitlam and School District 43 expect to get some revenue for the rental of their facilities.
In the meantime, the two Fox students who were extras during the movie shoot say they are looking forward to next spring when the movie comes out on the Disney+ streaming service.
They said they'll be watching for themselves as well as scenes where they participated in the filming.