FLASHBACK: Location Shooting...A Soap Could Visit Your Home Town (Part 5 of 5)

When Love of Life featured a prison scene, this set was built at the
CBS studio.
Location Shooting...A Soap Could Visit Your Home Town

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

(continued from Part 4)

Search for Tomorrow: In the past two years, Search has been on move, up and down the East Coast. The exteriors in the Wade Collins kidnapping in August 1977 were shot in Stony Brook, Eastern Long Island. Associate producer Robert Getz found the remote dirt road and old shed that Gail Starkey says had "ambience that reminded us of Henderson." The interiors were shot at the studio.

Stephanie Collins worked her wiles on John Wyatt in the magnificent ski resort setting of Woodstock, Vermont, not far from a home owned by executive producer Mary Ellis Bunim. The show used the Barnard, VT ski area and Sonnenberg Lodge during the week when the lodge was generally closed. Local skiers were rounded up for the background sequences in the shoot that lasted three days, from 6 a.m. to dusk. Starkey says only Stacy Moran (Suzie) knew how to ski beforehand. Lisa Peluso (Wendy), Maree Cheatham (Stephanie) and Val Dufour (John) all took lessons before going on location. Since then, Maree's become an enthusiast.

When a contract player was on leave from the show to do a play, the show went on location to nearby in Harrisburg, PA, for a children's softball game and fantasy sequence involving David Sutton, Scott Phillips, Eric and baby Doug. "It was easier to bring the mountain to Mohammed," comments Starkey. The other ballplayers in the game were children from a local team who were allowed to stay out of school for the educational experience of seeing and participating in the taping of a television show.

Search went to the Washington, D.C. area to shoot exteriors of "Henderson Hospital," and a park scene with Kylie and Tom at the beginning of their romance. Washington was chosen since it was warmer there at the time, and the story called for it to look like it was a month later than it actually was. An additional plus was the availability of an ABC crew in the vicinity. That park scene introduced the song "Sweet Beginnings," written by Lanny Meyers and sung by Kacey Cisyk.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Search aired on CBS at the time.

The Janet Collins-Chance Halliday sailing (mis)adventure took place on a Sunday in the summer at Round Valley in Lebanon, NJ. The particular attraction of that lake was that it was closed on Monday, and the management agreed to keep the "wilderness" part clear Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday for sailing and beach scenes. A local supplier donated a sailboat, and the New Jersey Film and TV Commission helped with arrangements.

Search's closest location shoot took place on the roof of the CBS Broadcast Center on Manhattan's west side. They pretended it was Tudor Oaks, a mental hospital. Kylie, a patient, sleepwalked to the roof. The scene was shot one cold night, and the main problem was disguising the yellow taxicabs below.


Although it would seem that it can't get more realistic than actually going on location, there are times when shows opt for constructing an elaborate studio set. Richards says ATWT made its own supermarket a few years ago for the kidnapping of baby Andrew Dixon because it's difficult to get into a supermarket the night before and then shoot a full day. There are also "considerations" about the products that would be shown. The fluorescent lighting adds color that's difficult to control, so it was easier to start from scratch.

A similar rationale was behind the recent building of an excellent disco set by AMC. The show used Studio 15 at the Elysee Theater—owned by ABC—instead of a real disco, where they wouldn't have the theatrical lighting necessary for TV.

The basic feeling at the soaps now is that even when you can't go on location—and obviously, it can't be done every week—the goal is to make it look as if the four walls of the studio don't exist, which can provide a significant challenge.

Inger Bowen, associate producer of The Doctors, says her show can't afford location sequences because of budgetary restrictions. Bowen estimates that it would cost $8,000 a day, so that aside from occasional exteriors, "basically we're an indoor show, working out of a particularly small studio." Bowen praises the show's scenic designer for the recent "outdoor" cabin scenes with Greta and Billy, and the construction of a hill for a car wreck.

From now on, when you watch your favorite soap, keep your eyes open for familiar landmarks. The location you're seeing could be your own home town!

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