One for the Meh
July 22, 2010 3:56 PM   Subscribe

A Katherine Heigl movie is being filmed on my street and directly behind my apartment tomorrow and this weekend. Any ideas on what to do?

Filming starts tomorrow and goes through Monday. I've not been around the set of a professional movie during filming. I just didn't know if there are any tips or good ideas of what to do.

There may be nothing to do, too! If that's the case, that's fine. I'm going to the Grand Prix this weekend here in town, so I've plenty to do.

I'll say I'm not tremendously interested in meeting anyone in the cast, but I don't want to miss out on a 'must see' if one exists.

The movie has a pretty zany plotline: An unemployed lingerie buyer becomes a bounty hunter.

Zany is used pretty sarcastically here, fwiw. Apologies for the sarcasm - it just sounds like a fair number of romantic / comedy movies that Hollywood has excreted recently.

Okay, last two paragraphs were unnecessary, but any help you can provide will be much appreciated!
posted by glaucon to Media & Arts (38 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Be somewhere else. They tend to have VERY bright lights and noise at all hours of the night, and sometimes you aren't allowed to get back to your own house if a scene is in progress.
I'm sure there must be plusses as well, but most people I know just find it annoying as all heck.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 3:59 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Um, score as much as you can at the craft services table before you're forcibly ejected...?
posted by thejoshu at 3:59 PM on July 22, 2010 [10 favorites]

I suggest you stay away. Film sets are busy, hectic places and no one will want (or be able to) pause to chat with you. If it's anything like my experience was, you won't even see much of Heigl until they're ready to film her. They'll use stand-ins before she arrives, shoot the scene with her quickly, then whisk her away as fast as she came. The crew will be there for hours though, and they're not much to look at unless you live in a sleepy area where any break from the norm is exciting. Watch from your window if you can.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 4:03 PM on July 22, 2010

you don't like the actors and you don't like the movie genre and this one seems particularly crappy to you?

just be somewhere else.
posted by nadawi at 4:04 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

What to do? I recommend just staying out of their way.
posted by blaneyphoto at 4:04 PM on July 22, 2010

Response by poster: Just to clarify, I do not want to try and be an extra or launch my movie career (I can launch it myself with YouTube, a guitar and a zany haircut). I'm just ignorant of the filming process and didn't know if there would be anything worth observing.
posted by glaucon at 4:07 PM on July 22, 2010

I've been on both sides of this: I was a PA on a movie and on a few TV shows back in the proverbial day, and I grew up in NYC and had a lot of movies and TV shows filmed in my neighborhoods.

I'm not quite sure what you're asking, though. How to make it livable? Get out of town--it's just kind of easier not to have to deal with the lights, the noise, the trucks, the gawkers, the PAs begging you to be quiet etc.

If you want to watch, that's cool--they'll just make sure that you're out of the shot and you're quiet. You might see the "stars" (loosely defined) at work (even more loosely defined), but in all likelihood, you won't get close. I'm sure this won't be the case with Heigl, but for the movie I worked on, the star was, amazingly, the nicest guy, and on the hottest day of shooting, went to a bodega around the corner and bought all the crew Froz-Fruit bars. Whattaguy! So, there is a chance you might see members of the cast walking about (but, again, I doubt Heigl is going to the bodega).

If you want to be a dick, get in the shot and/or don't be quiet. When I was a PA, I had to go on a wild goose chase to get a construction crew to stop rehabbing someone's apartment in a fourth-floor walkup down the street from the set. I think we bribed them with anything they wanted from craft services. But dealing with noise on set is a constant nightmare.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:07 PM on July 22, 2010

Film sets are busy for the people working them, and dull as dishwater for anyone watching. I have seen Clint Eastwood, briefly, when they were shooting In the Line of Fire down the street from my apartment, and Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline, when they were shooting Dave (I lived in DC, obviously). Mostly, there was a lot of standing around, watching unrecognizable people work. Hours and hours of that, if that's your thing.
posted by rtha at 4:08 PM on July 22, 2010

Take a look. See if it interests you. If yes, hang out. If not, move along. Most of the time, movie sets are pretty boring, and you won't be able to see anything good. Sometimes it's the opposite. YMMV. (Yeah, I worked in production for YEARS and I don't miss it one bit.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:08 PM on July 22, 2010

Response by poster: It sounds like there's not much to do except annoy the crew or watch people work (neither are my thing). I appreciate everyone's thoughts.

Any cool experiences anyone has had, please share. Or bad experiences. Or more Meh experiences!
posted by glaucon at 4:11 PM on July 22, 2010

You gotta flip the script on them... find someone wearing a walkie talkie and stopping traffic, and ask them if they're shooting a mayonaise commercial.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:19 PM on July 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

They're filming a Stephanie Plum movie in Pittsburgh? That's just silly.

Tips: If they're filming on main streets, figure out alternate routes. Buy earplugs in case they get annoyingly loud. Make sure to have curtains dark enough to block out lights.

Everyone at home always thought it was so *glamorous* to have movies being filmed around where I lived. It just made me GRAR more because it took longer to get to and from the subway.
posted by rachaelfaith at 4:20 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Water-balloon launcher
posted by sammyo at 4:21 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Water-balloon launcher

This was my thought as well. Movie filming isn't very interesting to watch...unless you make it interesting.
posted by coolguymichael at 4:30 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

We must be neighbors since the film trucks for that movie are all parked about a block from my house. This is like the tenth movie filmed around here in the last couple years. I mostly ignore them.
posted by octothorpe at 4:37 PM on July 22, 2010

Movie shoots are very, very, very boring for everyone but the busiest people, in my experience. Even most people working on the set spend more time waiting than actually doing anything. (Former wardrobe assistant here, a job you could not pay me enough to ever consider doing again.)

As for an experience of living next to a set - sure, I've got one. Years ago I had the misfortune of living in a house located between two other houses that were owned by the same guy. The guy rented out both of his houses for a month-long film shoot. The downside of this, for me stuck in between, was noise, lights, and having to park far away because the crew's land yachts took up the whole block. Sometimes I'd come out to find the crew sitting on my car eating their craft service. Sometimes my car would be blocked in, and I'd end up late for work, jeopardizing my job. After about a week of this I was pretty annoyed. But! It got worse.

The driveway that paralleled my front entrance was used by the on-set tutor to about a half-dozen bratty little kids. My roommate and I, both punk-rock types - this was the 1980s after all - got harrassed, coming and going, by these kids. Roommate got the worst of it - she was overweight, and these kids called her something or other about her weight every time she passed. Being a pretty vocal type, I took up the matter with the tutor, who just laughed at me and told me to deal with it.

That pissed me off, leading me to a chain of phonecalls that resulted in our getting our rent paid by the production company because of the hostile environment created by the crew (and the tutor who refused to educate her kids about treating others with respect). Was it worth it? No, but it was better than nothing.

So - here's hoping your experience is far less eventful than mine. And hey, that water balloon launcher idea is a good one if necessary :)
posted by chez shoes at 4:47 PM on July 22, 2010

FWIW, we're choosing to go to the Grand Prix over the Meh.

They did a portion of the Russell Crowe film recently filmed here in front of our house - mostly I bitched about the traffic restrictions, the ungodly bright lights when I was trying to nap, and ignored it. Our cats were fascinated though...

Sarcasm aside, I think part of the reason so many films are being done here lately (other than the tax breaks) are because the locals really don't care. They did part of She's Out of Your League a few blocks from us and the major consensus among the neighbors was that it was a bigger deal that library parking was restricted than what the "famous" people were doing.
posted by librarianamy at 4:53 PM on July 22, 2010

Try to get "candid" shots of Heigl and sell to TMZ or some such?
posted by AltReality at 4:56 PM on July 22, 2010

We had part of a recent De Niro flop filmed in the house next to ours; the smaller of the two craft services tents took over our driveway and off-street parking spaces. While it wasn't full of people like Chez Shoes experienced, it was about a week of feeling like we weren't welcome in our apartment. Well, in, sure. But going in and out became a stealth production. My partner just didn't leave the house and worked from home, and parked his car several blocks away. I had to sneak in and out and ended up leaving my car at a relative's house a few towns away. If I could have just stayed out of town, I would have.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:01 PM on July 22, 2010

I would try to do some lines with John Leguizamo. er, read some lines. but no, seriously, don't be "that guy"- stay out of the way, but if they inconvenience you I would totally try to get some compensation. They budget for such things.
posted by ryaninoakland at 5:07 PM on July 22, 2010

If they happen to film a scene with a character driving, that can be pretty cool. I like to watch the cars being hauled down the street while the D.P. perches above for the shot. Otherwise, yeah, meh. Unless there's gonna be explosions (doubtful). If the craft service table is visible and the craft-service person isn't busy, you can maybe chat with them for a bit, get some gossip, and grab a donut. Or, a Red Vine out of the tub. Ah... Red Vines...
posted by Kloryne at 5:14 PM on July 22, 2010

It's cool when they make it rain. You could ask if they're going to do that and stick around for it.
posted by prefpara at 5:33 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

if you wear a walkie headset and carry a clipboard i bet you can linger at craftie all day without getting busted. go in the morning and get them to make you a fancy omlette.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:33 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've had a metric ton of films and stuff shot around my apartment building. I find it a bit of an annoying hassle. Mostly you might notice big trucks parked on the street with cables and whatnot running along the sidewalk, and you may see the actual film crew with lights and boom mics and stuff.

I hardly ever saw the actual actors or the scenes being played out. Wish I could tell you if there's something cool to stick around for, but I mostly chose to ignore the process because I am a cranky old fart.

I left them alone and they left me alone for the most part. Good enough for me. I did notice some of my neighbours would linger around and watch, but they were all pretty calm about it and kept their distance, since it was such a frequent occurence.
posted by Ouisch at 6:04 PM on July 22, 2010

I have nothing useful to add except if we're telling anecdotes, I once woke up to gunshots, rolled out of bed and looked out the window to see Wesley Snipes in a trenchcoat running down the middle of the road with a sword screaming or something ... I don't know, I honestly thought I was dreaming, but it just turned out to be one of those shitty Blade movies.
posted by mannequito at 6:36 PM on July 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

My wife and I walked by the location of an outdoor scene being filmed for "Hitch". So, I hear you on crappy rom-coms.

Things we learned:

1. The closest we could get was to a PA whose job was to keep people away and repeatedly answer the same questions. ("What's the name of this? Who's in it?) Dude had the patience of a saint.

2. A production will spend HOURS to film take after take of a scene that is less than 30 seconds long. And the leads might not even be in that scene.

3. It can be boring to watch, or not. We walked across the street to a park which was out of frame and watched a dozen or more takes. First it was fun to watch the extras. Then it was fun to watch the other spectators. This only works if you like people watching and/or the people are funny to watch.
posted by achmorrison at 6:44 PM on July 22, 2010

They're filming a Stephanie Plum movie in Pittsburgh?

Even worse, they cast Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum? I am disappoint.

posted by elizardbits at 6:46 PM on July 22, 2010

They're filming a Stephanie Plum movie in Pittsburgh? That's just silly.

They've filmed movies set in Chicago, New York, DC, Baltimore and others here. Shouldn't be that hard to fake Trenton, NJ.
posted by octothorpe at 7:01 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

You gotta flip the script on them... find someone wearing a walkie talkie and stopping traffic, and ask them if they're shooting a mayonaise commercial.

posted by mollymayhem at 7:15 PM on July 22, 2010

I lived in the LES for a long time, and got really, REALLY used to shoots going on in my neighborhood (when it wasn't LAW AND ORDER, it was some movie looking for someplace either "Hip" or "slummy").

Most of the time, you won't see much but a bunch of trailers all lined up, and total strangers with clipboards waving you along on the street. The "famous people" are all holed up in their own trailers until it's showtime, at which point the powers that be tend to clear the immediate area of onlookers anyway.

However - I did have one really great conversation with an electrics guy as he was cleaning up after a shoot on my block. The usual security was gone, and it was just a couple guys wrapping things up right out front of my building. I asked one guy wrapping up cables what they were shooting, and he put this HUGE fake grin on his face and told me it was "the Mariah Carey biography", which was then called "All That Glitters". We chatted a little bit about it, and he had this gloriously deadpan snarky sarcastic tone to his voice the whole time. "It seems that Mariah Carey finally felt it was time to tell her story to the world," he said, with mock reverence.

So in other words, if they're filming something that the crew hates, they will LOVE busting on it with you, and that can get REALLY fun.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:19 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

or ... get a walkie talkie and a high-vis vest, stand a couple blocks down, and just start meeting people, redirecting traffic, making up different stories about what's being shot down the road - "Oh, that? It's a science fiction movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Anthony Hopkins on a spaceship reverse-probing aliens!" - the possibilities are endless.
posted by mannequito at 7:22 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Try to get "candid" shots of Heigl and sell to TMZ or some such?

Ugh. No. Please don't contribute to the paprazzi culture. And I'd avoid any encounters with Heigl. Word is she is a deeply unpleasant person and no one will work with her twice.
posted by orange swan at 7:57 PM on July 22, 2010

I loathe filming near my residence and the arrogance these people bring with them. I have seen them break friend's cars, make people lose business, harass residents, and act completely entitled. I couldn't watch movies for years because of their awful, self centered behavior. Especially when they bullied the little guys, the people who would really be hurt by missing the day/week/month of work these movies would cause them to lose. And I saw it a lot where I lived.

That being said, do hang out with the older extras. They were such a wonderfully refreshing, beautiful contrast to most of the film industry. I remember once a film had dozens of older extras, all looked familiar from having been in movies for decades. They had stories worth hanging around for. They were old enough to be human, funny, generous, respected. And..., they would leave steak leftovers at my front door for my dog.

So, unless there are amazing elders, run.

And, yes, they were all 70+, and they all got fed last.
posted by Vaike at 8:28 PM on July 22, 2010

As someone who's neighborhood is invaded by film crews a couple of times every summer, it's going to suck. Film people are rude, entitled, exploitative, destructive assholes, who coop local police and city officials with promises of benefits to the community that rarely materialize to make the area hell.

Shut down the main roads through town during rush hour? Screw you, we need the light.

Filming at maximum volume at 1am? Screw you, we need to finish production.

Trash the area and leave it for you to clean up? Screw you, you should be lucky we picked your community to shit on.

Packs of production staff being drunken boors in the local restaurants/bars/etc? Screw you, we're In Film, and should be unaccountable our actions.

I should run for city council on a platform of banning film crews from the city limits; I'd win in a heartbeat. We're all sick of it.
posted by kjs3 at 8:46 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum? Seriously? I just died a little inside. For many reasons. Ugh. The only thing worse would be all 16+ books as movies.

When I was at UBC and they were filming all the time, it wasn't that hard to just walk around the trailers acting as if you belonged there. (It helped if you weren't dressed as the usual Vancouverite student at the time either - no backpacks or gortex!) Sometimes, you got lucky and stumbled across tables of free food. Free food is always good.
posted by cgg at 9:13 PM on July 22, 2010

I love watching movies being made. If you do too, then just watch. Watch the crew and the onlookers and look where all the wires go and take photos. See who's really in charge. Count how many people it takes to just capture a 40-second scene on film.

Looks like you're in Pgh. Where are they filming? I might drop by.

(I saw Stephen Root entering a building in Creepshow, phony rain in Flashdance, Dennis Quaid parking a car in Smart People, and a car blowing up in something I never learned the name of.)
posted by booth at 5:54 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I watched the filming of Body of Lies in my neighborhood. It was entertaining for an hour or so, mostly to see how they transformed DC's Eastern Market in the late summer to a European market in the winter--folks dressed in wool coats and scarves when it was 90 degress and muggy. I ignored the security guys telling me I couldn't take pictures, and I saw Ridley Scott, but no stars, except Robert Prosky, who wasn't even in the movie, but lived nearby and liked to hang around sets.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:28 AM on July 23, 2010

Not that interesting, IMO. You'll probably not get to see anyone close up, unless you've got a telescope or binoculars. I lived in Memphis around the time that several movies (The Firm, The Rainmaker, The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Cast Away, etc.) were shot there in whole or in part, and even people that I knew who were cast as extras didn't think it was much of a big deal. One of the scenes in was shot in my neighborhood, so I got to see Matt Damon, Claire Danes, and Francis Ford Fucking Coppola from a distance, whoop-tee-do.

About the only reason to make a point of hanging out around a movie being shot is that the increasing use of green screens, even for movies with relatively prosaic locations, means that you'll have less and less of a chance to see that sort of thing. So, maybe just once, for the experience.

posted by Halloween Jack at 10:32 AM on July 23, 2010

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