Film location signs: open secret of group wayfinding and misdirection
April 15, 2015 11:54 AM   Subscribe

There's always something shooting in Toronto, and the best way to determine what they're working on (beyond simply asking) is to peer at the dashboard of any of their parked trucks or trailers. Their shooting/parking permits will have the name of the production right there in bold, even if the sign pointing to craft services is using a misdirecting shooting title.
posted by thecjm at 12:17 PM on April 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

I see these signs in Providence, RI, pretty often. But they are far less intelligible than simply seeing five city blocks of silver trailers with Haddad's painted on the side in giant black letters.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:58 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I found Michael Douglas outside my neighborhood corner store by following one of these signs. He's really short.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:55 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

They seem to film constantly in my neighborhood lately although it's usually playing some other city. I was a little disconcerted to see a whole line of police cars lined up a block from my house on my drive home from work one day last year until I realized that they were all painted with NYPD logos. It was for the upcoming Jake Gyllenhaal boxing film.
posted by octothorpe at 2:08 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

When filming happens around here (it's rare, and it's not like this is a super busy area), I never see signs. Signs would definitely be a good thing. There's nothing like being on your usual morning run and going right through a filming setup thing. I got a lot of dirty looks, but as I pointed out, there was no sign. I just thought someone was moving.

Now I have a paranoia about filming locations. I also do not like when all the parking spots are gone. I saw in the paper this morning that some company is filming a car commercial here next week. The paper did not give much in the way of details. I emailed the film company to see if they'd be between me and the library on my usual library day. They answered right away, which was really nice, and they will be miles away.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 2:28 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Currently work on a production studio/indoor filming location site, mostly for TV and online commercials. While it's occasionally very impressive in a complicated-thing-done-smoothly kind of way, there are a lot of hiccups with trailers/trucks/vehicles moving from one filming location to another. The one we remember most vividly was an 'older gentleman' driving a VIP cast trailer from an outdoor shoot to our facility, whom no-one could contact and seemed to have vanished.

Two hours late (the VIP was displeased), he appeared. Turned out that some unknown person had rotated each of the posted arrows in such a way that he followed a 3-mile closed loop. Seven times.
posted by The Zeroth Law at 3:22 PM on April 15, 2015 [11 favorites]

That's "cracking the code"? They basically said you have no hope of cracking anything!

One of my proudest moments was when I was addicted to The Mentalist (that isn't the proud moment--it's coming) and my girlfriend and I were driving around when we saw a production sign labeled "CBI". I instantly knew what it meant, and we followed the signs to the location of the shoot. Unfortunately we didn't spot Simon Baker, Robin Tunney, Amanda Righetti, Tim Kang or Owain Yeoman, but at least we did crack the damn code!

I've considered starting a site to catalog crowdsourced shooting locations and sign codenames.
posted by jjwiseman at 3:41 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

One of my regrets from my time in LA was not stealing the first one of these I saw, which read "PBTH".
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 4:21 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Back around 1985 when I lived in the Loft District in Downtown LA, there were film shoots all the time. One day I was walking home and I saw on a street light pole there was a big masonite sign painted white with thick black silkscreened letters saying LOCATION and an arrow. I thought, holy crap this is like a professionally manufactured $10 sign. To them it's disposable. To me, it's expensive art supplies.

So I took it home, gessoed over it, and painted on it for almost 2 weeks. The painting is titled "LOCATION." If you look at the right angle, you can faintly see the raised lettering through the layers of paint.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:30 PM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you live in the neighborhood where they're shooting, the LA permits office posts little white notifications that give the name of the production company, the phone number for the office and the name of the location manager. Not in code.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:32 PM on April 15, 2015

Lord, I'm in a neighborhood that ALWAYS has a film crew around. These signs are everywhere. A friend of mine who used to live in a condo off of Peachtree St (the main one) noticed a big crew filming nearby one day. She grabbed her black, telephone headset off the computer, clipped the wire to her belt, picked up a clip board and walked over. She walked around the set for a good hour just exploring. Never bothered anyone and was never asked by anyone if she belonged.... She figured that she just looked official enough to belong. She thinks it was one of the Anchorman movies but never saw a celebrity to confirm.
posted by pearlybob at 4:45 PM on April 15, 2015 [7 favorites]

When the 2007 version of Hairspray was filming in Toronto, I happened across the shoot late at night. I was playing a gig at a bar nearby. At around one o'clock in the morning, I was leaving and walking up the street to catch the subway.

This youtube video shows how Roncesvalles Avenue was set decorated for the film.

Anyway, it was dark out, and I was walking toward the shoot from the south. At the north end of the stretch of street where the shoot was happening was a massive floodlight suspended from a crane maybe 50 feet or more in the air. As I walked towards it, I noticed a sandwich board with fluorscent green bristol board attached to it. Written on it, with an arrow pointing into the adjacent church were the words "EXTRAS HOLDING." As if on cue, a few dozen extras, clad in 50s teen garb, bouffants or slicked-back hair and all, emerged from the church. They seemed like they had been waiting around for the call for a while because they seemed a little lethargic and sleepy. Maybe some of them had been napping.

So I merged with this horde of Hairspray extras, dressed for the scene, who were all strangely silent and shuffling toward this giant artificial sun beaming down on the street.

It was pretty neat.

That sign did indeed indicate "extras holding." No misdirection there.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:21 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

There was a helicopter over my house for most of yesterday, and when my wife went out for an errand she called me to say that the police had a big section of Colorado Blvd (in the Eagle Rock section of Los Angeles) blocked off and she saw a body in the road and she was freaked out. I had just read the neighborhood Facebook group post about Major Crimes filming there so I was able to tell her the body was, most likely, a dummy.

When I lived in Silver Lake, NCIS: Los Angeles (and, back in the day, Fastlane, by McG!) used to shoot there a lot. There were often signs up letting everyone know they might hear loud noises, including sounds of gunfire. One time I was walking down Sunset Blvd and happened to look down a small side street as I passed and saw a police car stopped in the middle of the street, one cop with gun drawn and another running toward the car while carrying someone over his shoulder. That must have been a small production because I didn't even see equipment trucks.
posted by jjwiseman at 7:14 PM on April 15, 2015

When I got to spend a few days hangin' out on set, Justified was using "HARLAN" on their signs for location, which I thought was nice.
posted by lauranesson at 3:09 AM on April 16, 2015

« Older Sweeter for its evidence than its tone   |   I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments