Sunday, July 26, 2015

Why My House Wasn’t in a Movie About Fresno

Here is a phone conversation, re-created some artistic license, that happened about a year ago.

Location scout: Do you want your house to be in a movie?

Me: Not really.

Location scout: We’ll pay you!

Me: How m—

Location scout: Not very much though.

Me: Well, no, then. That sounds like a hassle.

Location scout: We’d need you out of there for, like, two days.

Me: But I just moved in.

Location scout: So you’re not used to it yet!

Me: I need to go.

Location scout: But Hollywood magic!

Me: What’s this movie?

Location scout: It’s called Fresno!

Me: Bye.

Shortly after I moved last year, I got a note tacked to my door from a location scout asking if I’d be interested in allowing a crew to film a movie in my house. This was one of the most Los Angeles things that had ever happened to me, and I was tempted. But when I called for details, I said no, ultimately for two reasons. First, just having newly moved in, I wasn’t eager to get displaced from my home. Second, the film was called Fresno and something about the thought of my home being one that could exist in Fresno didn’t sit well. I like my home. I strive for a non-Fresno aesthetic. Being told “Your home could be a place in Fresno” is kind of like being approached about being the subject of a makeover show — “You’re a ‘before,’ and we want to make you an ‘after,’ you shapeless, sad glob.” Only they weren’t actually promising to “after” my house — just highlight its “before”-ness.

Last weekend, nearly a year later, I watched the Outfest screening of the new movie by Jamie Babbit, who directed But I’m a Cheerleader. The film featured Natasha Lyonne, who also starred in Cheerleader, alongside Judy Greer, who starred in every other movie this summer. (Seriously, she’s been in Tomorrowland, Jurassic World and Ant-Man. Can’t help feeling proud for little ol’ Fern Mayo.) It’s a solid indie comedy, and the title is Addicted to Fresno.

The working title, I learned, was Fresno.

In retrospect, I missed out.

Having watched the film, I’d guess that the location scout was looking for one of two homes featured in it: the one that Lyonne and Greer’s characters share or a second where Greer’s character meets one played my Molly Shannon. Greer and Shannon meet up again on the street, in a spot in Atwater Village that’s literally a five-minute walk from where I live. I cross by it everyday, and consequently I get to think about how I missed my chance to experience Hollywood magic in the form of having my walls repainted, having my furniture rearranged and my floors scratched up, to say nothing of having to camp out at a friend’s while a film crew looked at the art on my walls and saying, “Nah, this sucks. Move it out of the shot.”

Good movie, though.

Of course, that title Fresno can and should only belong to one thing: the 1986 Carol Burnett miniseries that made fun of night-time soaps like Dallas, Dynasty and Falcon Crest, that focused on Fresno’s glamorous-but-cutthroat raisin industry and that hinged around the idea that setting a story about glamorous people in Fresno is inherently ridiculous.

The entire four hours of Fresno, I have learned, are available on YouTube, and I’d like to suggest a Fresno-themed movie night if anyone else is down.

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