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Tom Rostkowski

Tom Rostkowski appears in his vintage costume for the portrayal of a sign-shop owner in a movie production that was shot near Galisteo. Watch for this movie to be released before the end of 2008.

Can you spot Tom?


One day Marty Clifton of Placitas, who has done some horse wrangling for western movie productions in New Mexico, called his friend Tom Rostkowski and said, “They’re looking for Irish-type railroad workers for a shoot up in Diablo Canyon. Why don’t you check it out?” Tom thought, “Why not?” That led the retired executive to his first role in “Into the West” in 2004. Since then, he has appeared as an extra, or background person, in twenty-seven productions that have been or are filming in New Mexico. He has shared time with some of the industry’s top movie stars, known as ‘principals’ in the biz. He finds them to be delightful and accommodating people.

Look for Tom seated behind Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci ringside in the fight scene in “Love Ranch,” unless that footage ends up on the cutting room floor. Tom never knows what will make it into the final release, and he has to pay to see himself in the movies just like the rest of us. You won’t find his name in the credits because he never has speaking parts. He doesn’t have an agent. “Love Ranch,” a story about legalized prostitution and the fabled Mustang Ranch in Nevada, is one of his just-completed productions. He was one of eight-hundred-plus extras, appearing in some of his own vintage 1970s clothing. The movie was shot all over the local area—near San Ysidro, at Tingley Coliseum, in warehouses and sound studios. He really appreciated the quality of directing from Taylor Hackford, who is Mirren’s husband.

Tom recently appeared in a production directed by Ed Harris that has to remain nameless for this story. Actors and background extras must sign a release promising not to share the storyline or titles before a movie opens to the public. Even with twenty-one days of eight- to fourteen-hour-long days in production, Tom had a ball on this one. The attached photo is from this movie, which will be released before the end of 2008. It features him in period costuming from a hundred years ago. He will appear as the town’s sign shop owner. The location is a picturesque old movie set near Galisteo. Tom predicts that sunrise and sunset scenes will be breathtaking. Production techniques like having wind machines kick up dust, and the expertise of the sound and lighting crews make being on the sets interesting. This movie features big stars (principals)—Ed Harris, Rene Zellweger, Vigo Mortensen, and Jeremy Irons. The best part of this shoot was that the director took the time to give extras like Tom important lessons on techniques for when and how to show emotions that will strengthen the production, and the stars included extras in ways not typical for most movie shoots. For instance, the “background people” usually are transported from one location to another separately from the “principals.” But when Rene Zellweger’s van was loading up, she signaled to Tom to jump in and ride with her.

Even his vintage cars sometimes make it into the movies. Antique car restoration is another of Tom’s hobbies. His ’73 Corvette appeared in “Wild Hogs.” In that film, look for Tom seated at a table in the restaurant scene, visible over the left shoulder of Marissa Tome, and also next to her and William H. Macey in the dance scene. Tom is the guy with the short-sleeve pink striped shirt, wearing a western hat.

As a retiree with a background in telephone transmission engineering, Tom had no aspirations to get into the movies. His former career involved setting directions for future technological innovations for phone systems in the Midwest, and developing cost analyses for such systems. But now he does casting calls. About eighty percent of his work comes from casting calls. Recently, he was one of hundreds of people assembled at Casino Hollywood for a wait of up to three hours, hoping to be selected. He calls them social events, with a lot of light-hearted fun. He recognizes buddies in casting call lines, and is able to identify those who really want more of a career than just being a background extra. Out of eight hundred extras in “Love Ranch,” only seven were given speaking roles.

For him, taking part in movies is interesting and good for his mental and physical health. He relishes new experiences. He works maybe four days per month. A lot of the time on the set is spent in and out of wardrobe and makeup. Tom is a people-person who enjoys stepping into character and being part of big Hollywood-type productions. He really enjoys the technical expertise of the crews, and meets lots of fascinating people. Admittedly, he gets a rush from seeing himself on the big screen. He’s been part of shoots at Bonanza Creek, Galisteo, Diablo Canyon, Tingley Coliseum, Costco, in tents set up in an empty former grocery store, at train and bus stations, and at Albuquerque Studios. He once surprised his wife Nancy by coming home in full makeup as a zombie Union soldier. Obviously, if the role is appropriate, Tom is likely to be chosen.

If you want to try your luck in the movies, check the website for times and locations of casting calls and relevant information. Don’t expect to be paid much more than minimum wage, though. Anticipate a lot a standing-around time if you are selected. It can take up to six hours to shoot one scene. Tom’s recommendation to young people: “Stay in school and get that education.”

Eli Schotte and Tatiana Marie Poling

Wedding Announcement


Bob and Sandy Poling of Placitas are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter, Tatiana Marie Poling to Eli Schotte of Capetown, South Africa. The couple was married on March 21, 2008, at Braamhoek Farm, Eastern Free State, South Africa.

The bride was attended by her parents and the groom was attended by his mother, Fiona Morris, and his brother, Leo Schotte. The groom’s stepfather, Ritchie Morris, played the music for the wedding. The couple plans to make their home in New Mexico and will arrive in June.






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