Naomi Spivak runs Matan Embroidery out of her house, designing and embroidering monograms and logos on fabric with her fifteen-needle industrial machine. So when she got a call from a woman asking if she could embroider some names in a hurry, Spivak agreed. “Sometimes for that kind of short notice, I say it will cost extra,” she says. “But I didn’t have much work that week, so I didn’t even say that.”
She got the details only when “the woman came to my house and said, ‘what I really need are little patches.’ I said, ‘Oh cool, what are they for?'” It turned out her customer, May McClurg, is a production assistant on Stone, Robert DeNiro’s upcoming movie. In it, the veteran actor plays a parole officer for a convicted arsonist (Ed Norton). Thanks to Michigan’s generous tax credits, the film is being shot this summer in Jackson and Ypsilanti.
Spivak’s role: embroidering about fifty name patches for the movie’s “prison guards.” The names she was given included Stamper, Guillen, Torres, Loveday, Polk, and Szewski—the last of which she recognized from the paperwork authorizing the sewing job. McClurg explained that production staffers sometimes suggest their own names for fictional characters.
Spivak also embroidered multiple copies of “Stone” and some of the other names for the actors’ stunt doubles. But a few weeks after she completed the job, she was still kicking herself. “If I’d known who it was,” she laughs, “I would have charged four times as much.”