Filming In The Concrete Jungle, With All Sorts of Animals
Panzarella also scouted and managed The Italian Job, starring Mark Wahlberg and Donald Sutherland.
"It was about as ambitious a location film for action as has ever been shot in L.A.," he says. "We closed Hollywood Boulevard for six days. We had traffic jams with hundreds of cars lining the streets. We had helicopters flying 500 feet over our heads."
For the Justin Timberlake film Now, it was location manager John Panzarella who made the arrangements to close the Sixth Street Bridge in Los Angeles. (The Fourth Street bridge, too, for another scene). Don't be too hard on him, though: It's just part of the job.
Chaos like that means one more thing for location managers to manage: the enmity of non-movie-makers. For the Timberlake film, two bridges were shut down for a recent day of shooting. Imagine how unhappy that made L.A. drivers.
Near Hollywood, some other streets have been closed in recent weeks for a film called We Bought a Zoo. Director Cameron Crowe was filming in the neighborhood of Los Feliz.
"Yesterday I came in angry," says local resident Kerry Sutkin. But it didn't last. "Matt Damon kept walking by."
Four-legged neighbors? Gotta think of them, too. Miles from Los Feliz, on a 450-acre ranch in Thousand Oaks, location manager Chris Baugh is overseeing the creation of that same film's zoo — made from scratch just for the movie. There are horses pastured nearby, and while everything seems bucolic and calm at the moment, that could change: Tigers will eventually populate the zoo set.
"Wait till we bring in the big cats," Baugh says.
Plus, there will be a lot of other creatures on the film — flamingos, llamas, monkeys and the bear. For a six-week shoot, Baugh will also have to provide facilities for the care, feeding and safety of a tamer group (one hopes): the cast and crew.
It must be tempting to throw up your hands, say it's too difficult, opt to build the zoo on a sound stage instead. But that's not an option for a location scout.
"We're not allowed to say no; we have to make it work. So we find a way," Baugh says.
Following The Director's Orders
Location scout Lori Balton steered filmmakers to the ranch for Zoo's makeshift zoo. She first discovered it for the film Seabiscuit.
"We leave no stone unturned," Balton says. "And you have to show [a director] lots of possibilities, but in my heart I felt this was the right one."
Balton says a big part of scouting is getting inside a director's head to find sites that match his or her mental images. She says working with director Michael Bay on Pearl Harbor was a challenge.
"He said, 'I want something white. It's gotta be white, it's gotta be white, it's gotta be white.' Oh, week after week, into months, we're looking for white, white, white. And finally I see something black, and I go, 'You know what? This kind of works. I'm going to show it to him.' And he looks at it. And he looks at me. And he goes, 'This is exactly what I asked you to find — why did it take so long?' "
Ah, all in a days work!