Thursday, May 29, 2014

Awesome Movie Locations You Can Actually Visit

How many times have you watched a movie and thought, “Wow, I wish I could go there!” While a lot of today’s movies are done in studios with green screens, many of the physical locations used by films of the past are still around. From the lush green landscapes of The Lord of the Rings to the futuristic setting of Gattaca, you can visit these locations and step into the movies. Maybe you can re-enact a favorite scene, or take some Instagram shots that will make your friends jealous. Either way, here are some famous movie locations you can visit and re-live some of your favorite cinematic moments.

1) Tongariro National Park -- New Zealand (The Lord of the Rings)

Whether you want to visit the cubby homes of Hobbiton or the vast fields of Rohan, New Zealand is mecca for Lord of the Rings fans. Companies like Twizel offer a variety of tours that will take you to spectacular filming locations and the little that remains of some of the sets used in the movie. The film is said to have been responsible for the revival of New Zealand’s tourism industry.

2) Ennis House - Los Angeles (Blade Runner)
Image Credit: Ennishouse.com

Many remember the futuristic landscape depicted in the Harrison Ford film, but the house that belonged to Deckard is one of the coolest architectural structures in science fiction films. You can visit this house in Los Angeles. The Ennis House is a creation of Frank Lloyd Wright and thus considered a landmark.

The home was built in 1924 for retailer Charles Ennis and is one of four of his Los Angeles homes that use the textile and perforated concrete design.  There were 27,000 of these blocks used to construct the home.

Ennis House was sold in 2011 to a local businessman who is planning a total restoration of the property.

3) Tikal National Park - Guatemala (Star Wars IV: A New Hope)

Do we really have to explain why visiting this location would be awesome? This location was used as the setting for Yavin 4 in Star Wars: A New Hope. Imagine the selfies you could take wearing storm trooper helmets. 

Tikal National Park is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site, so you can expect to have it around for a long time. This location is a must on your list.

4) Marin County Civic Center - San Rafael, California (Gattaca)

Sticking with our sci-fi theme, this Californian architectural wonder was used in two sci-fi classics: George Lucas’ THX 1138 and Gattaca, which starred a pre-Kill Bill Uma Thurman. The civic center was the last building to be commissioned by Frank Lloyd Wright.

5) New York City - New York (Ghostbusters...and more)

We could do an entire blog post about movies filmed in New York, but we decided to mention Ghostbusters. Despite the sad passing of Harold Ramis (Egon), Ghostbusters 3 is still going to be done. While we’re sure many NYC sites will be used, the most iconic location in the movie, the firehouse, is still there for all to see. Head to the Tribeca neighborhood to find the Hook & Ladder Station 8, which served as the Ghostbusters’ home base. 

There were recent rumors that the firehouse may be closed or sold due to budget related issues.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Movie Lingo - Sound Like a Pro on Your Next Movie Set!

If you’re a fan of movies you might be aware of the vast amount of vocabulary words that cater specifically to the world of production. If you don’t, well, that’s what we’re here for. Every profession has its own vocabulary; think about the medical world and even sports, but movie terms are in a league of their own. Here is a list of 10 movie terms that range from seemingly unrelated to completely bizarre.

Magic Hour

This one isn’t so bad, especially if you have also been exposed to photography or modeling. There are two “Magic Hours” in the day--the hour before sunrise and the hour right after sunset. At this time, the lighting is optimal for the film crew to shoot buildings and other cityscapes without drowning out surrounding details like car headlights.


Think AK instead of Cosmo. On a movie camera, the magazine is a light-proof chamber that holds film. While most current movies are filmed digitally, there are still plenty of directors keeping it old school. These chambers can hold 400 or 1000 feet of film.


Nope, nothing to do with your kitchen. Pans are when a camera moves across a horizontal access. Do you have a smartphone? If so, this term should sound very familiar to you--think “panoramic”!

Sun Guns

At least this term makes you think of movie westerns. Sun guns are mounted lights the provide major illumination. They are usually positioned on the left and right sides of scene to light it up to avoid harsh shadows.

Apple Box

A lot of people are familiar with this term, but in case you aren’t, apple boxes are strong wooden boxes typically used to give an actor some height. There are also pancake boxes, but they are flatter (no, really).

Baby Legs

One of the more bizarre terms in movie lingo, baby legs refers to a small camera tripod.


You would think this term refers to a prop, but it actually refers to the music used in the background of a commercial. The bed serves as the narrator’s “soundtrack.”


Nope, nothing to do with Jack LaLanne. A juicer is the set’s electrician.


Often confused with a movie’s soundtrack, the score is original music composed for a movie or TV show. For example, the famous themes from “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” are part of the film’s score--not the soundtrack.


Your friends might call these the “previews”, but those in the know understand these video snippets used to advertise upcoming movies and get the crowds excited are actually called trailers. Go ahead, correct them next time!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Five Cursed Movie Productions

Horror flicks are always fun to watch. Even if you aren’t afraid of the bad guys, you can always laugh at your friends or fellow movie goers as they jump at every sight and sound. But sometimes, the stories about life on set are more terrifying than the move itself. While accidents can, and do, happen during the filming of a movie, sometimes the incidents that happen frequently, and repeatedly, and before you know it one word begins to run through everyone’s mind: curse.

A number of movies have been declared as cursed. Most of them have dark subject matter that would seemingly bring in the bad vibes, but other movies with much more innocent storylines still have accidents that cause the public to deem the set cursed. In this post, we’ll examine some of the most cursed movie sets of all time. It’s up to you to decide if it’s curse or coincidence.

The Exorcist

If a movie makes the audience physically ill as it plays, you know there have to be some truly horrifying sequences in it. The Exorcist is considered the most cursed movie set of all time. Even subsequent installments of the film were plagued by freak accidents. A total of 9 people died during the making of the first installment. One of the actresses suffered a severe spinal injury after a stunt went wrong, and the cast and crew would complain of things going bump in the night in their own home. Perhaps the most terrifying story from the set involves the film’s premiere in Rome. The premiere was set up near two 16th century churches with very large crosses at the top. During a freak storm, bolts of lightning struck the crosses and sent them crumbling into the plaza below.


What could be so cursed about America’s superhero? While it seems Henry Cavill, the franchise’s latest Superman, has remained unscathed, the Superman franchise first got its “cursed” label after the death of the original Superman--George Reeves. Reeves, whose name was quite similar to America’s Superman Christopher Reeve, was found dead in his own apartment in 1959. While the press deemed it a suicide, no prints were found on the gun, not even Reeves’. Later on, Christopher Reeve was thrown from his horse and paralyzed from the neck down, a story which gained a lot of publicity that stayed with Reeve until his untimely passing. Other actors from the Superman movies also suffered misfortunes of their own. Margot Kidder and Marlon Brando were nearly crippled by psychiatric disorders, and comedian Richard Pryor (Superman III) developed MS three years later. Hardly any of the actors from the earlier franchises experienced successful careers after starring in the Superman films.

The Poltergeist Franchise

If the cast and crew don’t even like mentioning their days on set during Poltergeist; you know it was bad. Most people remember the little blonde girl that sat in front of the television and declared “They’re here”, but many don’t know she developed a severe flu and died from complications shortly before the release of the third film.
The actress who played her older sister in the first movie was strangled to death by her boyfriend. The crew constantly had to fix props that would fall during filming. The props were also known to disappear and reappear in other locations, and the crew’s equipment was constantly malfunctioning. While the characters in the movie were cursed by moving into a house built over a burial ground, it is said “The Poltergeist Curse” was started by the crew’s decision to use real human remains in the film.


If your movie is about the son of Satan, chances are the production process won’t always be sunshine and rainbows, but the incidents that happened during filming were truly horrifying. The majority of the cast and crew were nearly killed by IRA bombings. Any airplane connected to the film did not fare well. David Seltzer (scriptwriter), Gregory Peck (actor), and executive producer Mace Neufelds’ airplanes were all struck by lightning. The special effects consultant crashed his car on Friday the 13th, and his assistant was cut in half by the car’s front tire. Remember what I mentioned about airplanes? Another plane meant for the film crashed and killed everyone on board. Everyone.

Rosemary’s Baby

Keeping with the “Satan’s children” theme, we have Rosemary’s Baby. The fact that it is a Roman Polanski film should creep you out enough, but things didn’t really start to go south until after the film was complete. However,  Mia Farrow came in with a stroke of bad luck of her own. She had just been served divorce papers by old blue eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. She also had to eat raw liver on set despite being a lifelong vegetarian--something Polanski forced her to do. Once the movie was completed, the bad luck transferred to Polanski and the crew. William Castle (producer) suffered from kidney failure, and was said to have screamed out lines from the movie while in the hospital. The film’s composer died of a brain clot (like a character in the film). A year and a half after the movie, Polanski made the terrible mistake of moving into a house previously owned by someone that ticked off Charles Manson.

Yes, that Charles Manson.

Polanski’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was killed by Manson’s minions. Later in life, Polanski would be charged with molesting a minor. The same building where Rosemary’s Baby was filmed was the same building where John Lennon was assassinated--and it just so happens Charles Manson was obsessed with the Beatles, who wrote a famous little song called Dear Prudence. Dear Prudence was about Prudence Farrow...Mia Farrow’s little sister. Still think it’s all just coincidence?