Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.


I will never understand why people who live in meticulously restored century-old houses worth truckloads of money feel compelled to fling open their custom-cut imported wood doors and welcome movie crews, who are infamous for our ability to destroy pretty much anything within a three mile radius of base camp.

We do our best to limit the destruction to stuff that can be easily replaced (like the grass), but something is certain to get damaged no matter how hard we try.

Today, we were rigging in a breathtakingly beautiful turn of the 20th century mansion that’s been lovingly restored to its former glory – including the original brickwork in the driveway which can’t be driven on or have any equipment parked on it (fun for the stakebed drivers)- and while we didn’t destroy anything today the potential for heartbreak is just hanging in the air. When we arrived, there were already chips in some of the brickwork, but let’s all just hope it ends there.

I was working with a group of folks that I really, really like and we weren’t super busy (most of the day was spent waiting on stakebeds full of equipment to arrive), so we were able to admire the original woodwork and the stunning view from the back deck (temporary, installed by the grips) over the hillside.

Also, a reader was kind enough to email me a correction to Friday’s post – turns out, the terrible accident that cost a man his eye did not involve the heavy rubber bungees that fucked up my elbow, but the type pictured.
I stand corrected.
And I’m working four days this week (unless one of them cancels, of course) which is very, very good.

Filed under: locations, Work

3 Responses

  1. ironrailsironweights says:

    Maybe using a house for filming increases its market value?


  2. meg says:

    You answered your own question in the first paragraph. Meticulously restored houses COST truckloads of money to restore, hence the need to offset by renting out to movie companies, despite the inherent dangers from the crew and equipment. My husband was dolly grip on a film done in “Saint Everything North of Montreal” (all the little towns are named Saint Something-or-other-this one was in St. Jovite.) The main house they filmed in had been built in the late 1800s, with rare wood interiors-floors, cabinets, beautiful carved moldings etc. So of course they rented it out to a film crew. I recall that the house escaped major damage, but the poor dolly grip’s nerves were on edge at the thought of scraping (or worse!) any of the lovely wood.

  3. Cat says:

    I agree with Meg – it’s all about the money. Keeping an old house alive if frightfully expensive.
    I remember working on a small film in Tidewater Virginia years ago, in an 18th century mansion with only 2 sets of stairs to the upper floors. The foyer featured a lovely spiral staircase with delicate fruitwood railings and treads- a freefloating number that anchored into the building ONLY at the very top and the very bottom. After signing contracts to shoot in the building, the company had an engineer come out and look over the staircase. It turned out that (big surprise) weight was a issue on the stairs. It boiled down to this – only one person at a time was allowed on the stairs, with only what they could carry. Imagine how happy the crew was to work in the upstairs sets. And wait in line to go up and down. Oh, and that 2nd set of stairs – another spiral set, only this time completely boxed into the architecture. I’m 5’9″ tall and I found myself hunching and twisting to accommodate the turns.
    Did I mention that we shot during a hot, humid Virginia summer and that the house did not have air conditioning? I lost so much weight during that shoot that you could see my ribs.
    p.s. the staircase (and the crew) survived.

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