Saturday, December 1, 2012

Film Shoot in Saranac Lake, NY

UPDATE 10/02/14
The film is finished! You can view it here. :)

Hello all,
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. I haven’t posted anything for awhile and now that the holiday season is underway I think I’ll find I have less time for my blog. I have a couple projects in the works – not all clothing related - and lots to do to get ready. I’ll be teaching a wreath making workshop next week and still need to figure a few things out for the class. I do have one special sewing project, but more on that later.
Saranac Laboratory Museum - Source

Today’s post is one I’ve been meaning to write and have not had a chance until now. I recently had the opportunity to work on a film set and I must say, it was a fantastic experience! Signature Communications of Maryland is currently working on a film for the National Park Service titled Struggle and Triumph: The Legacy of George Washington Carver. The film will be shown at the George Washington Carver National Memorial in Diamond, Mo. Known as the "peanut man," Carver was an African-American scientist and inventor. He developed and promoted about 100 different products made from peanuts including cosmetics, dyes, paints, plastics, gasoline, and nitroglycerin.

While searching for filming locations, the crew came across the Saranac Laboratory Museum located in historic Saranac Lake, NY. Built in 1894 by Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, the laboratory - the first of its kind in the United States - was used specifically for tuberculosis research. The building was restored and opened as a museum in 2009. It was selected for the NPS film because of its close resemblance to Cavers's lab at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

Director John Allen and a NPS adviser setting up for the first scenes
Carver measuring out peanuts
The scenes filmed in the Saranac lab featured Carver, played by actor Altorro Prince Black, conducting some of his famous research on peanuts. Scenes shot later in the afternoon depicted Caver interacting with a group of African-American students, played by students from North Country Community College and Lake Placid High School.

Students from North Country Community College and Lake Placid High School
So, what was my role in all of this? I spent the day working as a production assistant. My first task when I arrived in the morning was to make a list of all of the props. There were 6 or 7 boxes that had been shipped to the lab full of various glass jars, test tubes, and other laboratory equipment. Each box had to be unpacked, inventoried, and if possible, labeled so we knew who to return it to. A few items belonging to the Saranac lab were used as well. Including a 19th century brass microscope that Dr. Trudeau used to diagnose his own case of tuberculosis. How's that for a piece of history!

A few of the many props used that day

More lab equipment. The posters on the museum was tell the history of the Saranac lab.
At the end of the day all the props were sorted and carefully repacked for shipping. A few items were donated to the museum. Another of my jobs was filling test tubes and other glass contains with colored water to resemble different chemicals. The large glass jar seen on the table in some of the photos was filled with a combination of baby oil, water, and yellow food coloring. I'm not sure how many times I ran up and down the stairs that day but it was a good work out. :)

I spent a little bit of time assisting Judi Flowers of Proper Period Productions who was in charge of the costumes that day. Judi, who was kind enough to share some of her wardrobe tips, was great to work with.

When it came time for the actual filming I kept a digital log of the individual shots and made notes about each of them. Did you know there's an app for that? I think it's called movie slate but I'm not sure.

Colored test tubes, one of my little contributions to the film. :) .
Although it was a very busy day, it was a lot of fun and really peaked my interest in the film business. Everyone of the cast and crew was wonderful to work with.
More photos from the Carver film shoot on my Facebook page as well as the Historic Saranac Lake Facebook page

You can read news articles about the Carver film here, and here. This last article makes an interesting comparison between George Washington Carve and Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a fantastic experience! This sounds like so much fun, and the film sounds fascinating. Thanks for sharing this!


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