Location Managers Guild International

Spring 2019

The Location Managers Guild International (LMGI) is the largest organization of Location Managers and Location Scouts in the motion picture, television, commercial and print production industries. Their membership plays a vital role in the creativ

Issue link: http://digital.copcomm.com/i/1112626

Contents of this Issue


Page 34 of 55

LMGI COMPASS | Spring 2019 • 35 Mr. Lombardi has allegedly been visited by the ghost, accompanied by the smell of lilacs. He is also haunted by hundreds of location scouts interested in exploring the property. The house has a very specific look; it doesn't get as much usage from TV and movie shoots as you would think. It is, however, used a great deal in print shoots and commercials. The house is a central character in Darren Aronofsky's Mother!, representing planet Earth. The set built in a field in Montreal was based on the Armour-Stiner house. Production designer Mark Friedberg explains, "The Octagon House is one of the most unique historic residential locations available. It has been lovingly restored by its owners who are eager to show it off in film. I have worked there on commercials and I recommended it to Darren Aronofsky, which at first he raised eyebrows at and then eventually decided to use as the idea behind the main set of Mother!. We also used the house for our version of Timothy Leary's house in Across the Universe, only we digitally set it in the middle of a lake." Perhaps historic properties, imbued with the persistence of memory, capture our hearts. I stopped by the house this past summer while hiking the adjacent Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. A wizened man in a red beret sat on a stone wall. I asked him if this was the first time he had seen this house. He measured his response slowly, "No, I been walking past this house for over 70 years. I seen it nice, I seen it bad and I seen it nice again, people caring about old things. That gives me hope that we ain't done yet." He excused himself and walked toward the river. I watched the red beret bobbing down the road till it disappeared. I won- dered if he was talking about himself or we, as a civilization. The story of the Bartow-Pell Mansion is the story of the begin- ning of New York City. In 1654, Dr. Thomas Pell, a British physi- cian, bought 50,000 acres from the Lenape Indians. This includes what eventually became North Bronx, New Rochelle and Pelham, predating the 1664 Dutch surrender to the British. Various other mansions occupied the site before 1842, when Robert Bartow built the current Greek Revival Mansion. In 1888, the Bartow fam- ily sold it to the city of New York to become part of Pelham Bay Park. In 1914, the mansion was leased to the International Gar- den Club, which designed formal gardens and used it as a meet- ing place until the early '40s. The Garden Club shared the house with mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who used it as the summer city hall. In 1945, it reopened as the Bartow Mansion Museum, run by the NYC Parks Department. In 1989, it became one of the first 15 buildings in the NYC Parks Department's Historic House Trust, which has grown to include 23 different properties. When the HBO series Divorce was looking for a historic mansion, they wound up at Bartow-Pell on short notice. Location manager Dena Ghieth recaps the experience, "We selected the mansion under extreme production stress regarding scheduling after a snowstorm; they were so accommodating and such a pleasure to work with. They also had some construction, which they man- aged to rearrange. It was win-win for us also, to be able to con- tribute to that amazing place both financially and with some cleaning up, fresh paint on the interiors—that type of thing." Filming Historic House Trusts is not without complication. There is a vetting process discussing how best to enact a scene with the least impact on the house. Most properties have a conservancy that runs a nonprofit for the upkeep, but the final decision rests with the Parks Department. Turnaround time can be quicker if the schedule is pressing as in the case with Divorce. Some of the furniture and paintings currently displayed in the Bartow-Pell are on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. To use them in a scene, they have to be cleared through the Met's licensing department. This is where the administration of the House Museum comes in very helpful, in recognizing and expediting this. Location manager Brendan O'Rourke dealt with the Parks Department while recently filming Time After Time at Bartow- Pell. "We shot scenes set in France during WWI. We shot the exterior in the back of the mansion. We also shot in the Car- riage House and set up Army tents and such, along the road- way. The Bartow-Pell people were great, but they don't give final approval. It all goes through the Parks Department. They were fine for our shoot, just a bit particular about the details, which is understandable." The historic elegance of Bartow-Pell contrasts with an ever- changing city, undergoing new development, building towering glass and steel shrines to convenience and modernity. Change and development are constant, important to a city's growth and economic health, so I don't disparage our changing skyline. I know even though directors abhor them, Citi Bike has a place on our streets the same as the 110-year-old gold street clock across from the Flatiron Building. A place exists in our world history for all these elements—but there is a special place for historic houses that make our hearts soar, that speak about the histories, good and bad, of people who came before us, and that like us—raised families, wrestling with simple complexities of their lives. In Howard's End, E.M. Forster knew that "houses have their own way of dying, falling as variously as the generations of men, some with a tragic roar, some quietly, but to an afterlife in the city of ghosts." We must maintain and support these evocative monuments to craftsmanship and tradition, re- membering who we are and where we started. To that end, film and television production provides a great service, while capturing a depth of authenticity in a more than fair trade— making good sense while developing our sensibility of our collective history—a glimpse of where we came from, and just maybe, maybe with the smallest inkling of where we're headed. From top to bottom: Lyndhurst Mansion pool tank. Photo by Emma Gencarelli; Lord and Burnham GH; Armour-Stiner porch; salon room. We must maintain and support these evocative monuments to craftsmanship and tradition, remembering who we are and where we started. To that end, film and television production provides a great service, while capturing a depth of authenticity in a more than fair trade.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Location Managers Guild International - Spring 2019