April 1st, 2008
JPL 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.”
Iwatsubo, 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:
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