In many ways, Emma Fuhrmann of Highland Village is like the other 10-year-old girls with whom she plays and goes to school. She likes to keep up with friends on her iPad and when she acts, it makes her comfortable to go over lines with a trusted adult. Unlike most of her peers, she’s played Words With Friends with people we’ve only seen on television and been coached through her lines by Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman.
This summer, Emma had the experience of a lifetime, spending five weeks on set at idyllic Greenwood Lake on the New York, New Jersey border shooting Summer at Dog Dave’s. a movie directed by Rob Reiner and with a terrific cast that includes Freeman in a leading role. No release date has been announced. While most movies are shot on stages and in urban settings this one was set in the vicinity of a lake and few scenes took place in the actual studio. During her time in the movie she lived with her mom, Amy, and six-year-old brother, Nick, in a rented lake house. Her father, Ken Fuhrmann, a business executive, managed to spend a week with his family during filming.
Amy described the time as like being at summer camp where Emma and other actors in the movies spent time with Reiner and his family. She described Reiner as a friendly, gregarious man who made others on set feel welcome and involved. Reiner grew up in a show business family. His dad was producer of the Dick Van Dyke Show. Probably best known for portraying Michael Stivic on All in the Family, Reiner’s most important work has come as director of movies that include The Princess Bride, The American President, Stand by Me, and When Harry Met Sally. Emma said that Reiner had a terrific ability to connect with her and make her feel at ease, both during auditions and filming. Freeman was more reserved in his interactions, but Emma found him to be a very nice man with whom she enjoyed spending time.
The family also had a great time with actress Virginia Madsen, another headliner in the movie. Madsen plays the mother of three girls who recently moved from New York City into an inherited lake house. Freeman plays a wheelchair-bound author who moves to the area to regain the passion that had made him an excellent writer. He befriends the single mother and her three children. Emma plays the middle child, Finnegan O’Neill a central figure in the movie with more scenes than any other on-camera performer. Her parts were so extensive she had to be on set 24 of the 25 filming days. Her older sister in the movie is played by Madeline Carroll and the younger sister by Nicolette Pierini.
Curiously enough, the Fuhrmanns had to turn down a more lucrative role for Emma to work with Reiner and Freeman. Another major motion picture company (name withheld) wanted to cast her in a leading role in a horror movie at about the same time. As they discussed options, Ken texted Amy the simple message: WWJD? The family chose the more wholesome movie for scale.
For Emma, confident in front of the camera and intrigued by the planning and activity behind it, the summer of filming turned into a terrific learning experience. She told the News Connection that she’s very interested in the movie business from acting to scripting and camera angles. She added that if there’s a message for others in her success it is that they should believe in themselves and accept God’s guidance in their lives.
While she enjoyed the work, being an actress with a pivotal role in the movie was hard work. One day, Emma had to deliver an emotional monologue that is particularly crucial to the movie. She had read her lines and practiced, but on the day of filming, there was a lot of stress. At one point she walked off the set with Freeman and moved close to the lake. There they discussed the way she should deliver her lines and the emotions she should project. After the time alone with Freeman she was ready to do her lines and finish the shoot.
While adults look at the roles Emma has played and the company she keeps, it’s easy to get a sense of awe; the 10-year-old takes it in stride. Just like other thrilling experiences she enjoys from riding roller coasters to snow skiing, “She really is down to earth and grounded,” says mother Amy. While Emma takes acting lessons in Lewisville and Dallas and has been modeling since early childhood, she also enjoys competitive swimming, and wants to play on a softball team.
The Fuhrmanns expect the movie to come out next spring. While nothing’s been arranged, Amy said it would be terrific if they could work with a local theater to plan a local premiere that could be set up to raise money for charity. Those interested in movie details can visit http://www.imdb.me/emmafuhrmann. Emma also has a Twitter page where people can follow her @emmafuhrmann.