One of the first tasks in getting The Movie on its feet was picking locations. We spent about three weeks scouting — almost as long as we shot.
I didn’t think I’d written a very location-driven movie, but it ended up being a bit of a monster. Part of that was budget — if we’d had serious money, we could have spent our way out of some problems. But the bigger issue was the schedule. The movie is broken into three parts, and for reasons I won’t divulge, we had to shoot the parts in a very specific order. We couldn’t swap Day 4 for Day 9. Which meant we had to have a given location available on exactly the right day.
Complicating matters, we needed dense forest close enough to Los Angeles that we wouldn’t have to put up crew overnight. In Vancouver, you’ve got forest everywhere. In Los Angeles, we have Angeles Crest, but the parts that looked right were way too far from the main roads. Logistically, it would have been impossible.
Fortunately, we found great stuff in Topanga and Malibu. The rest of our locations had to fit in around them.
The movie was shot almost entirely on practical locations (that is, real places rather than sets). The exception was one day shot at the Hearst Building in Downtown LA, an old newspaper plant that’s been converted into standing sets for film and television. It’s a super-creepy building made even stranger by the sets. Walk around a corner and you’re in a hospital. Open a door, and it’s the filthiest motel room you’ve ever seen. It’s hard to tell where movie-squalor ends and actual squalor begins.
I’ve put together a two-minute reel of the locations we ended up using. When the movie’s done, you’ll be able to see how we used them. The last clip is the hotel we shot in New York City.
(Because you’ll ask: The music is by Alex Wurman, our composer.)