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Local rubs shoulders with superheroes

Tom Jackson • Apr 6, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Dale Coffman’s main method to relax used to be making things like birdhouses, says his wife, Ellen Coffman.

“He likes to go back in the barn and do things with wood” she said.

These days, Coffman has a more glamorous hobby: Making movies.

Bitten by the moviemaking bug after working as an extra in “The Avengers” he’s also in the justreleased “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” He’s also in two new independent films, “Young Harvest” and “The Wind Is Watching”

He’s yet to land a speaking role, but he now has a biography on the Internet Movie Database website.

Coffman, 51, and Ellen Coffman co-own two RE/MAX Quality Realty offices in Sandusky and Norwalk.

Making movies is a good way of relieving the stress that comes with working 70 hours a week, supervising three dozen real estate agents and dealing with problems such as foreclosures, Coffman said.

He filmed with “Captain America” in two Cleveland locations, Tower City and the Cleveland Museum of Art, for a total of three days of work last June.    When he took Ellen and other members of his family to a private screening Thursday night, he saw himself in four places in the movie, as a person in the background in the Washington Mall and as an agent of S.H.I.EL.D., a law enforcement agency in the Marvel universe.

Everyone cheered when Cleveland appeared onscreen, and when one of the extras at the screening appeared, said Coffman’s daughter, Kelli Lottman.

Coffman said the action scenes were carefully choreographed, and the movie’s directors, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, seemed to know exactly what they wanted. Everyone got instructions in where to stand, how to walk and react, and where to end up.

“They’d go over the scene over and over and over” he said.

We asked for some inside Hollywood dirt, such as whether the performers were well-fed.

“You have an amazing spread, more than you can ever think of eating,” he said. “When I did the Avengers, I gained weight”

Coffman said because he’s apparently proven he’s a good extra, he gets emails periodically alerting him to nearby film productions and asking if he’s interested in working. He shows up on time, does what he’s told and behaves himself off the set: He doesn’t blab about what happens in the movie or post photos online.

“I keep quiet. I don’t post. They don’t want people to blog about it” he said.

Coffman earns $10 an hour for his movie work, with time-and-a-half if filming goes over eight hours.

“Obviously, I don’t do it for the money,” he said. “It’s a way to disconnect for a couple of days, maybe take a week’s vacation”

Coffman grew a beard for “The Wind Is Watching” a science fiction movie about America’s “second Civil War” in the year 2037; he played a rebel soldier and militia member. He played a bar patron in “Young Harvest,” a 2013 horror movie.

Coffman never intended to be in the movies. His brother-in-law, Ryan Adkins, wanted to be in “The Avengers” and he persuaded Coffman to join him on a casting call when the movie filmed in the Cleveland area and at NASA Plum Brook Station in Erie County.

Coffman got to play a police officer in the movie, shooting his gun at bad guys after getting instructions from the movie’s director, Joss Whedon.

Ellen Coffman has directed dance teams and done choreography for musicals, and she comes from a family that sings and performs, so she thought she was the “artsy” half of the couple.

She said it’s been interesting to see a different side of her husband of 25 years, who was born in Sandusky and graduated from Perkins High School in 1980.

“It’s been fun going to the premieres. I think it’s fun for me to see Dale doing something other than real estate” she said.

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