, 2014


Cadet Alyssa Ford appears
in ‘Field of Lost Shoes’

Everybody has a story

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

On her way to becoming a nuclear missile officer in the U.S. Air Force, Alyssa Ford decided to dabble in the film-making industry for a few months.

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Alyssa Ford (foreground) is an extra in “Field of Lost Shoes.”

Ford spent last summer as a liaison of sorts for a film crew and actors shooting “Field of Lost Shoes” at several locations across Virginia.

Ford will graduate this week from Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, where most of the movie was shot. She works with the school’s communications and marketing department and when she was asked to give a tour of VMI to the actors, teach them about the college and help them prepare for their roles, she jumped at the chance. So Ford spent the summer rubbing shoulders with Nolan Gould of “Modern Family” fame and Josh Zuckerman, who appeared on “Desperate Housewives.” She got to hand water to David Arquette and meet Hollywood A-lister Tom Skerritt.

And when the film makers needed an extra Southern belle for a few scenes, Ford donned her long dress and petticoat for the part.

“It was an unforgettable experience,” said Ford, a Lancaster High School graduate and the daughter of Traci and Rich Ford of Weems. “I don’t think I’ll ever get an opportunity like that again. It’s one of those great opportunities that VMI throws your way. This is an incredible school. I love it.”

From left, Alyssa Ford greets actors Josh Zuckerman and Nolan Gould at the premiere

“Field of Lost Shoes,” written by Thomas Farrell II and produced by David Kennedy, is the story of the 1864 Civil War Battle of New Market, where 10 VMI cadets lost their lives. The movie premiered April 13 at Richmond’s Carpenter Theatre with a parade of some 250 VMI cadets marching in full uniform along Grace Street. Ford was personally invited to the premiere by Kennedy and took her mom, dad and fiance, Ryan McDaniel, to the showing.

“It was so great to spend the summer with the actors and then get to see them again,” said Ford.

A biology major, Ford will head to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in September for training to become a nuclear missile officer.

“I got to be the face of VMI” for the actors, said the petite blond.

The movie was shot on location at VMI, the James River Plantation, the Capital and Executive Mansion in Richmond and at a Virginia state penitentiary. Shooting took place last spring and summer from May through July 4.

As an extra, Ford danced for four hours during a shooting at the James River Plantation.

“You can really only see my face one time,” she said. “But that’s okay. It was still fun.”

The movie, she said, tells the tale of a “pretty impressive story” and follows the life of seven cadets leading up to and during the battle. The movie gets its name because the thick mud at the battle pulled off some of the cadets’ shoes.

“All the cadet actors were amazing people,” said Ford. “Well, all the actors were really nice.”

The movie will be shown in another screening this month at the GI Film Festival in Washington, D.C., but its release date for larger audiences hasn’t been set.


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