JPL Library People in Harvey Milk Film

April 1st, 2008

Shawn Heiser & Thomas IwatsuboJPL Library’s own Shawn Heiser and Thomas Iwatsubo worked as film extras in the new Gus Van Sant film “Milk” starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official. Milk was assassinated in 1978 by fellow San Francisco city supervisor Dan White, a former policeman. Dan White is played by Josh Brolin.

Heiser and Iwatsubo, who work in the Library, were surprised to run into each other on the film set. Dressed in period “hippie” fashion, Heiser was filmed as an audience member in the re-enactment of Milk’s speech following the 1978 Gay Freedom Day Parade. Heiser, in his first major feature film appearance, participated in eight days of shooting. “I jumped at the opportunity to be in the film and work with Gus Van Sant. When I first came to San Francisco I read The Mayor of Castro Street about Harvey Milk’s history. Being involved with the film was a very positive experience.”

Sean Penn as Harvey MilkIwatsubo, an experienced film actor, played a politician/ city hall employee who attends Milk’s memorial service. “The story has come full circle for me. I was a student at SFSU when Harvey Milk was assassinated, now I’m acting a politician of that time while working at SFSU.” Iwatsubo’s character shows up in several scenes; he describes the production as a very collaborative environment, “I found myself in a room discussing the next shot with Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and the cinematographer Harris Savides. I’m not used to the lead players and directors mixing so freely.”

The film is scheduled for national release in Fall, 2008.

The Library has resources to research Harvey Milk and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) studies:

“Harvey Milk” InvestiGator Keyword Search
“Harvey Milk” Link+ Keyword Search
LBGT Life w/ Full Text database
Research Guide on Human Sexuality

Entry Filed under: News

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. daniel ortiz  |  April 10th, 2008 at 8:09 am

    I totally was there too, I played a pedestrian in China Town. Fun times. Also hung out with the most beautiful, down to earth model i ever met while waiting around on set. -Daniel Ortiz BECA Major and DJ on KSFS

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