June 28th, 2007, posted by MitchMan710 | Digg This
“You and I are simply passing through history. This…, this is history” – Rene Belloq, Raiders of the Lost
June 28th – Well, maybe not up there with World War II or the moon landing, but for us locals, this is historic…the first “Official” day of Indy IV filming in New Haven is here! I say official as there have been many dress rehearsals and filming here and there, but today it was the real deal. The boys, Spence, 9, and Owen, 7, headed out early and got to New Haven (or maybe the town of Bedford, located in Michigan – as one wild rumor was said by a local) around 7:30. The boys and I woke up early and headed out to grab a great scrambled egg breakfast at the Bedford Grill (again, the modern day Copper Kitchen), which like many of the retail shops has been transformed to 1957. Now added to the scenery were stamp machines, scale/fortune telling machines, a Bozo the Clown – “fun-phone”, shoe shine station, and a few new shops. All the shops are still open behind their Indy IV, (or The Untitled Genre Project, as it is called on all the flyers around town – a PG Rated action-adventure set in the Golden Age of 1957 – see no “City of the Gods” or “Raiders of the Lost Dentures”) window dressing – so it is like stepping into “The Twilight Zone” as you travel back 50 years in time at every corner.
A glance down College Street shows vintage cars and trucks from the late 1940s and early 1950s, and then small groups of authentically dressed extras, being led across the green start to appear. One really has to take a moment and soak in the amount of exquisite craftsmanship and detail that has been poured into the sets. The professionalism of the crew, not to mention the local Yale and New Haven Police, who are keeping a watchful eye and making sure that the normal business life in New Haven, goes on amidst the action of Indiana Jones. And yes, oddly enough, a lot of would-be Indiana Jones walking around in costume – kind of like the guys at football games who paint themselves in the color of the team as my son, Owen, pointed out.
Lights, Camera,… Wait….and….Wait………Wait, We look down the street to see a familiar baseball capped, bearded gentleman walking down College Street framing the scene with his thumbs and forefingers – no, it couldn’t be… but it is, the one and only Steven Spielberg! There he was walking down the road, seeing how the forthcoming chase scene will look in his mind.
Now after they cleared the real local traffic, and washed down the streets, and waited for local traffic, again. The scene started. After a few practice runs, and now that the street was “locked down”.. here it was…ready…., lights, …camera, ….ACTION! If you didn’t think Hollywood hadn’t arrived to the Elm City, the black sedans, being pursued by a motorcycle being driven by a 50’s hipster, with an older, scholarly looking professor hanging on for dear life was the clincher! Yes, Indiana Jones was here! Well, his stunts double anyway.
Now, amongst the spectators were cheering fans from around the area, locals who were just trying to get to work around the closed streets, and being the mini-New York it is, a lot of ticked off, New Haveners who could care less! NOTE TO GENRE PRODUCTIONS – When hiring Production Assistants and Day Laborers, get ones who know the area – I helped give directions over three dozen times to lost pedestrians and confused production personnel, and in one somewhat scary situation, calmed a very irate bicyclist who was a little “angrier than normal” when told he couldn’t cross College, due to the filming.
Anyway, watching the chase scene, again, and again, and again, and again… you realize movie making is done by folks with the patience of Saints! A lot of standing by to stand by. Oh well, there is only so much the boys could take. We walked around, had a bite at the Yankee Doodle Diner - great cheeseburgers — and looked around the familiar streets where I grew up, to see what else was going on. Going by Naples Pizza on High Street, we bumped into a few extras and readers of these “Raiders Ramblings” who recognized me and the kids. Another thing about movie-making, especially for extras, is they need to supply air-conditioned pants and skirts – it was about 88 degrees today, but the costumes looked a little warm for summer. I wish I could have got some shots of the gang with the kids, but we didn’t want to get any of these fine folks in trouble. It was nice to talk with actors and fellow fans, lucky enough to get picked – and yes, I agree with you guys – the “Entertainment Weekly – Obsessed Fan of the Week” – may have put me in the reject/fanatic bin –maybe I should have said it was the Obese Fan of the week and I could have got something like Chubby Guy at Bus Station extra. However, the kids were excited, because to them everyone was a famous movie star and it was a treat to say hi to these 1950s looking Indy extras. After we walked away they told me they forgot to ask for autographs! Fedoras off to you guys and gals – keep cool and don’t upstage the leading men and women!
Dr. Jones, The famous archaeologist? Speaking of the lead, the man himself, Harrison Ford, was around the corner in a university building rehearsing a classroom scene with Spielberg. There were lights and reflectors outside the windows and a lot of folks hurrying around. My son, Spencer, who has had Bill Murray wish him “Happy Birthday” when he was 5, and met and received Bruce Springsteen’s guitar pick, waited to see if Harrison Ford was going to come out and shake his hand and sign his Indy action figure he picked up a Disney World last year. I had to gently tell him, that Mr. Ford was a little busy at the moment.
As we walked around the chase scene was going on and on. There was a weird sight in the Yale Commons is a new statue of 10th Yale President Theodore Dwight Woolsey that was being put together near the real one – except this one was missing a head. In fact, he had about 7 heads that were being put together by the craftsman from Paramount. No doubt to be blown up or some devastating event that awaits, similar to the fake Iron Gate on Chapel Street and new wooden doors on Calhoun College. It is now raining out and they have done the chase scene a zillion times, no doubt it will be jam-packed full of celluloid scene magic next May. That’s all folks! As we sit at the table in 1957 McCurry’s Seafood Restaurant on Chapel Street (known as Starbuck’s Coffee Shop in 2007) to write this and take a much need break from the heat, all we can say is “Wow”! Owen wants to go home and make a movie in our backyard with the video camera. He is telling Spencer that he can ride his wagon with our dog, Indiana, in the back and pretend to be chased by the bad guys. That being me – the baddest bad guy Dad in Connecticut!
That is all for today. There are some new pics of the Chapel Street scenery – and construction the fake statue on myspace.com/mitchellhallock – but none of the chase scene – that you’ll have to see at the movies next year! The local WTNH.com and NewHavenRegister.com will have all new video clips and articles everyday – visit them and search for “Indiana Jones”