Larkin grad at 'hub' of 'Gone Girl,' other films

  • Former Elgin resident Meredith Humbracht worked as a production coordinator on the movie "Gone Girl." The film stars Ben Affleck as a husband who falls under suspicion when his wife disappears.

    Former Elgin resident Meredith Humbracht worked as a production coordinator on the movie "Gone Girl." The film stars Ben Affleck as a husband who falls under suspicion when his wife disappears. 20th Century Fox

  • Former Elgin resident Meredith Humbracht has been a member of the Producers Guild of America for six years and a production coordinator for two decades.

    Former Elgin resident Meredith Humbracht has been a member of the Producers Guild of America for six years and a production coordinator for two decades. Courtesy of Meredith Humbracht

  • Former Elgin resident Meredith Humbracht has been a member of the Producers Guild of America for six years and a production coordinator for two decades.

    Former Elgin resident Meredith Humbracht has been a member of the Producers Guild of America for six years and a production coordinator for two decades. Courtesy of Meredith Humbracht

  • Former Elgin resident Meredith Humbracht has been a member of the Producers Guild of America for six years and a production coordinator for two decades.

    Former Elgin resident Meredith Humbracht has been a member of the Producers Guild of America for six years and a production coordinator for two decades. Courtesy of Meredith Humbracht

  • Former Elgin resident Meredith Humbracht worked as a production coordinator on the movie "Gone Girl," starring Ben Affleck, left, and Rosamund Pike.

    Former Elgin resident Meredith Humbracht worked as a production coordinator on the movie "Gone Girl," starring Ben Affleck, left, and Rosamund Pike. 20th Century Fox

 
 
Updated 10/7/2014 6:09 AM

Meredith Humbracht has survived earthquakes, set closings and a terrible car accident in Elgin near the Fox River, but neither man nor nature has stopped the Larkin High School grad from helping create TV shows and movies such as the just-released "Gone Girl."

Humbracht, a former resident of Elgin, has worked as a production coordinator for the past 20 years. Her movie credits include "Neighbors," "Superman Returns" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," while the TV side of her resume boasts "Lost" and "House of Cards."

 

So, what exactly does a production coordinator do?

"It's a management position," she explained. "We are the hub of the production. I go ahead of the production into a location and set up the headquarters. I am responsible for all the communications between the filmmakers."

Plus, she handles transportation and coordinates people and equipment to location shoots. Pretty much everything goes through her office.

Her secret to success? "You have to be willing to do whatever it takes," she said.

"I love this job because it's always different," she added. "Different problems always come up. There are always new people. New adventures. New locations."

Her adventures in filmmaking began, more or less, the day her mother ordered her to take her little brother Chris for an open audition for the movie "Groundhog Day."

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"The auditions were at Woodstock High School," she remembered. "It was freezing out, and there were 5,000 people -- dogs, bikers, moms, kids all standing out there for four hours."

Her brother Chris, an ex-Marine, got booked as an extra on "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York." Eventually, Humbracht was booked as an extra on "Groundhog Day," where she worked for more than two months.

"I got to know everybody on the film," she said. "I got to see how a film works and what everybody did."

She also got work as an extra on the movies "Rudy" and "Hoffa," setting her off on a quest to Los Angeles to find her way in the moviemaking industry.

Humbracht was born in Berkeley, California. She moved to Elgin during the middle of seventh grade so her mother could return to her hometown to care for her own aging mother. Humbracht graduated from Larkin in 1985 and went off to college to study graphic design.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

While in Elgin on summer break. she was driving near the Fox River when a semitrailer truck rammed into the rear of her stopped car. She suffered massive injuries requiring lots of time in Sherman Hospital and in rehab.

That experience, plus an earthquake or two in Los Angeles, failed to stop her from achieving in a career she now loves.

"The biggest challenge on this job is long stretches without work," she said. "I usually work back-to-back jobs. But once during the downturn, I went off work for six months, unheard of for me. That's the tough part. You never know how long you're going to be off."

Next up will be Chris Columbus' fantasy adventure "Pixels," starring Adam Sandler and Peter Dinklage, in which video game experts are called upon to stop an outbreak of classic 1980s video game villains from taking over the planet.

Humbracht is still single but lives with Sammy her cat, a feline performer she tries to sneak into every movie she works on.

"He was in 'Gone Girl,'" she explained. "In a bar scene. But I just saw the movie Saturday night, and it looks like that part was cut out."

Although she resides in California, Humbracht still regards Elgin as her home.

"I'm back home in Elgin every Christmas," she reported. "I haven't missed one yet. My mother's orders! I can go anywhere in the world for my job, but I better be home for Christmas."

• Dann Gire and Jamie Sotonoff are looking for people from the suburbs working in show biz. If you know someone who would make an interesting column, contact them at dgire@dailyherald.com and jsotonoff@dailyherald.com.

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