FLASHBACK: Location Shooting...A Soap Could Visit Your Home Town (Part 4)

Ryan's Hope viewers shared the beauty of Ireland when Jack and Mary
Fenelli honeymooned in Erie.  Here, Mary (then, Kate Mulgrew) is seen
on the cliffs of the Dingle Peninsula.
Location Shooting...A Soap Could Visit Your Home Town

The Soap Box
Vol. IV No. 3 March 1979
by Linda Susman

(continued from Part 3)

Love of Life: When the character of Michael Blake drowned last year, LOL set up shop on Candlewood Lake in Brookfield, Conn. Heather Hill, one of the show's directors, lives nearby, and associate producer Paul Sladkus says her husband, Randy Hill (a stage manager) helped with permits, security and other arrangements for the one-day shoot. Comments Sladkus, they "lucked out with the weather. In fact, we had to use reflectors because it was too sunny at times." For the drowning, a large boat was used to produce a wave large enough to capsize the small rowboat being used for the rescue. The shoot lasted from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the overcast late-day skies fitted the bill for the dreary effect necessary.

The major set change recently at LOL was the move of the Sterlings to Prof. McCauley's home. The exterior is actually a home in the fashionable Scarsdale area of Westchester County, NY. After the writer and set designer figured out what the inside and outside would look like, Sladkus went ringing doorbells in his own community. The house finally chosen is built from the stone originally on the property and belongs to an elderly woman. One scene was of Bruce and Van driving up to the house, getting out and looking around. An entire full-view of the house was shot from a fire engine crane 75 feet high, usually used for sports photography. External shots of the backyard and rock garden will be aired in the spring.

One Life to Live: Central Park's a favorite location of this soap, according to Joe Stuart. Last winter, the characters of Pat, Paul and Brian went tobogganing there and had snowball fights. Stuart recalls that it was 17 degrees out, and "everybody froze."

Also close to home is the church where Viki and Joe were married several years ago. The show went back for exterior shots last year, when it looked as if Joe was dying. The inside of the church was a studio set. Stuart also praises the versatility of the NJ parks which the show has used in the recent past for Melinda and Peter's romantic day in the park, romping on the swings, feeding ducks, and strolling on the floral edged paths. Because the sequence was shot in early spring, there were no flowers; but the Bergen County Park Commission planted them, with OLTL picking up the tab. The horseback riding scene with Melinda and Dorian took place in Leonia, NJ. A hospital parking lot on Long Island was suggested by director Norman Hall for the kidnapping of Jenny Vernon and Jim Craig, while the Becky-Richard-Luke kidnapping shootout took place in the woodsy area of Sterling Forest. Stuart says they try to choose fairly "private" locations, although it is sometimes necessary to clear an area or stop traffic, as when Brian was killed by a hit-and-run driver in the Fieldstone section of Riverdale on the outskirts of New York City.

Ryan's Hope: The eight-day trip to Ireland for Mary and Jack Fenelli made soap history, but RH's done many other location scenes much closer to home. The very first show opened with Mary walking along the street (actually Columbus Avenue) saying hello to people before going into Ryan's Bar. What started as a walk for her brother, Frank, became an Emmy-winning scene for director Lela Swift. Producer Ellen Barrett says Frank—then played by Andrew Robinson—was upset after his first breakup with Jill. Instead of getting drunk, he took a rapid late night walk that broke into a run. They began shooting at 42nd St. at 4 a.m. in 14 degree weather, and the run ended on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral. Since it was daybreak by then, the shoot conflicted with Mass there. The final effect looked as if he'd walked all night long. Side streets were used to indicate the progress of the walk-run, and the length of the walk and passage of time were achieved through editing. Voiceovers of Jill, Frank and Da were also part of the finished product.

RH has also used photo montages of Seneca, Jill and Edmund, actual still photos taken on the beach in Amagansett, Long Island and in Central Park. They've also taken Mary and Jack to the docks, to Battery Park, and the South Street Seaport Museum. Tom Desmond's gym workout scenes took place at the gym where actor Tom MacGreevey works out. Those scenes were shot through the night with other "real people" there used as extras. As for the Lake Minnewaska sequences, Barrett enthuses, "We made a move for TV in four days!"

EDITOR'S NOTE: Stay tuned for the final part of Location Shooting...A Soap Could Visit Your Home Town.

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