Monday, September 28, 2015

FLASHBACK: Location Shooting...A Soap Could Visit Your Home Town (Part 2)

All My Children's Tom Cudahy and Erica Kane Cudahy
(Dick Shoberg and Susan Lucci) share a moment of bliss,
oblivious to the plendor of St. Croix's oceans and
Location Shooting...A Soap Could Visit Your Home Town

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

(continued from Part 1)

The unpredictable tropical rainstorms in Nassau complicated the seven-day, two-story location trip of GL. Two characters who were scheduled to finish their sequence on Wednesday were "rained out," and since they were due back at the studio for work, they flew to NY, then flew back to Nassau for the weekend to finish their scenes.

Rain was a blessing in disguise when RH's cast and crew went to Lake Minnewaska in upstate New York to shoot Faith going over the waterfall in a canoe. Barrett said it rained the first day, and the shooting had to be scrapped. To utilize the time, they did more surveying of the area, and found that the access road leading to one particular site had a boulder on the left and one on the right, making it impossible for the facility truck to get up the road.

Several years ago, when Edge went to Greenwich, Conn., to film a sequence on a riverboat, rain served no useful purpose. Goodsite says the riverboat—originally an attraction at a NY amusement park—had been purchased and relocated as part of a restaurant/motel complex; it fit the bill for the 1968 murder of Edge's "Riverboat" operator, Harry Constable. Goodsite said it poured from start to finish—4 p.m. to 6 a.m. that December day—but viewers never saw the rain on tape. "The show must go on," he observes.

When ATWT went to a New Jersey park last year for Betsy's rescue by Kevin Thompson, the writer wanted her to be found in the rain. Although it was early spring, there were two-foot snowdrifts above actress Suzanne Davidson's knees. Since the story had her leaving at night in a terrible storm—with rescue coming during the day—the sequence was shot in reverse. The local fire department agreed to "add rain" to the existing snow, the meet story specifications.

Now let's go "on location" with some of your favorite soaps.

All My Children: The "biggie" for this soap was Erica and Tom's honeymoon in St. Croix. The initial location was suggested by creator Agnes Nixon, who has a home there; but the actual locations were scouted by producer Bud Kloss. Nixon then devised a story around them that would encompass the honeymoon, Kloss recounts. "We went down with the broad strokes of the story," he notes. Senior technicians from the show mapped out the specifics, and an independent crew from ABC was hired for the actual shoot. The logistics—hotels, food, as well as shooting locations—were handled by the show's production staff and a representative of Project St. Croix. AMC took 28 people for the six-day job, with shooting sometimes extending into the evening.

Kloss also recalled the memorable Vietnamese village set the show built on the bank of the Housatonic River in Connecticut several years ago. It was there that Phil Brent was found alive, being nursed back to health by Vietnamese villagers. A Connecticut location was also used for part of the kidnapping footage involving little Philip. Kloss says he forsees more location sequences in the future for AMC.

As the World Turns: Northern New Jersey is often "home away from home" for this show, since producer Arthur Richards has lived there all his life. "When something comes up in a script, I use my knowledge of the area to try and come up with something suitable," he notes. Richards says the Bergen County (NJ) Park Commission is particularly helpful, and the many parks there allow a choice, with possibilities to simulate everything from a large playground area to a small backyard.

The Victorian home in Centerville where Karen Parker lived was found by Richards in Nyack, NY, through a real estate broker. The house was privately owned; arrangements were made for interior as well as exterior shooting. Richards says they lit one day and shot for two-and-a-half. The staff made two prior surveys, and little had to be moved or rearranged. One scene called for Walter to be shot and fall down the stairs. Richards says that since "stuntmen can be clumsy, we removed the lady's pictures from the wall and replaced them with prop pictures. One did fall off the wall and break." A small downstairs room was also converted into a study that was supposed to be upstairs, to avoid hauling cables.

The same storyline featured a sequence of Walter coming out of an office building, getting into a car and driving away. The scene was shot with portable equipment, a battery-run camera in a truck. The car and driver were shot from a variety of angles. Richards says they had the same degree of flexibility possible with film.

Closer to home, Kevin's drunk binge in NYC was shot mainly in the exclusive Sutton Place area, on short little streets that run down to the East River. The crew then shifted to Brooklyn Heights, where the Manhattan skyline was shot from across the river. Richards said the property for Kim and Dan's new home is planned as a location sequence. "We could choose just a flat terrain, but it's better to take the time to look for an interesting tree, brook, duck, pond...something to add interest, to incorporate into the dialogue."

Continue to Part 3 of Location Shooting...A Soap Could Visit Your Home Town.

1 comment:

  1. I vaguely remember Faith going over a waterfall on RH, and certainly Tom & Erica's honeymoon, and Philip in Vietnam.....I've always enjoyed the feel of an on location' shoot in Soaps.