Saturday, September 20, 2014

September 18, 2014: Visiting 4 sets along 5th Ave in 2 hours

Because I have been traveling so so much this year, I haven’t been able to take in one of the things I love about New York: visiting television and movie sets and watching them filming… whatever it might be they’re filming.

Yesterday thanks to On Location Vacations I saw that there were no less than four TV productions filming on or near 5th Avenue in Manhattan spanning from 10th Street to 92nd Street. Well, the thought of four productions all on one avenue struck my fancy. It really emphasized the idea that New York, the city itself, really is the largest backlot in the country. I love seeing and following all the brightly colored “To Set” signs. I love seeing the movie chairs with the production name on the back. I love seeing the trailers where the stars hang out when not filming. I love all the random equipment. I love seeing just how they make TV. I do. No shame. :)

So, I decided to visit all four of those sets along 5th Ave. Just… because.

In the end, it was a long walk on an absolutely gorgeous day. I didn’t see any actual filming but I saw a lot of cool behind-the-scenes things that I love seeing almost as much as filming itself (almost), and generally had a wonderful walkabout on the streets of New York. Man, I’ve missed doing that!

So, let’s start. Here’s the location of the sets I was going to visit.


Production #1: Madam Secretary (5th Ave & 10th St)

This was in a residential area, a quiet street near the heart of NYU. Unfortunately, it was also an indoor set so there was no filming to be seen, even if my timing had been right. Still, there was some fun stuff to see.

The Signs: And a little shot of excitement goes through me. Follow the yellow (or pink as the case may be…) brick road

The Chairs: They look so government official!

The Set: They were filming inside the building behind all that equipment and up those steps. It always amazes me just how much *stuff* it takes to film something.

The Trailers: The name on this trailer is “Kolbe”. Not sure who that is, but I was entertaining by the little rug on the sidewalk for them.

Most Fun Behind the Scenes Item: The wardrobe racks.
Someone is wearing fatigues all day.  ;)

Electrical Item that made me go, “Um…okay” This electrical interchange. Every set has all kinds of wires going everywhere for the lights, cameras, and whatever other equipment they’re using. But, you know, if I were going to have an major electrical ‘outlet’, in front of a fire hydrant may not be where I’d choose to put it, lol.

Favorite New York picture not related to the production I found Waldo! LOL
Seriously, this was just spray painted on a random stoop across the street from the set.

Production #2: Mysteries of Laura (5th Ave & 32th St)

This was smack in the middle of Korea town. Whereas the Madam Secretary site was in a quiet street with little traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, this was mass chaos! The tiny street was crowded with cars, buses, rickshaws, bikers, and pedestrians. It was night and day from the first set. Also, while I didn’t get to see any filming, there was a (accidental but very cool) star sighting!

The Signs: And so it begins again. Follow the green brick road…

And here’s the accidental and unexpected star sighting: I was trying to take a picture of these signs with the trailers as a backdrop and then someone walked up to the trailer, unlocked it, and went in. It turns out, this was Josh Lucas’s (one of the main cast of the show) trailer. Fun!

The Chairs: Oooo, I guess we know who’s on set…

The Set: This was another interior set. But with the pictures below I hope you can get a sense of just how completely chaotic this location was. They needed the same amount of equipment but had to sqeeeeeeze it into a street that was SO crowded and on which space was at such a premium.


The Trailers: No idea who Meredith or Bridget are, but here are the trailers for their body doubles!

Most Fun Behind the Scenes Item: The Medical Examiners Van!
It is still on my bucket list to be a dead body on some show filmed in NY so this was so exciting to see! You can even see they have the body gurney there, too. And how did I know this van wasn’t the real deal? They were peeling the decals off of it!


Electrical Item that made me go, “Um…okay” What in the world do they have in the back of that car that needs that much juice?!?

Favorite New York picture not related to the production On the walk to this set, I went through Madison Square Park. It was an absolutely stunningly gorgeous day.

Production #3: Elementary (5th Ave & 55th St)

Okay, truth be told. This was advertised as being 5th and 55th and, yes, there were many production vehicles there, but the set itself was closer to/on 6th Ave. But that’s okay. Also, truth be told, I didn’t walk up here. I caught the R train up to 59th then walked down. Lots of ground to cover, can’t do it all on the surface! ;)

Anyway, I WAS SO CLOSE TO SEEING ELEMENTARY FILMING! Sadly, I just missed it. I did see a paparazzi lurking near the trailers and also three guys carrying two big cameras. They must have just wrapped. Alas. Also, no chairs even, just their To Set signs. However, they had the most impressive set of Signs, lol. Also, this site, being right in Midtown, was again distinctly different than the first two locations.

The Signs: I spy…

And this I just love, too, because of the New York flair to it…the set sign posted on an ad for the Chicago Broadway show, and located right on 6th Ave.

The Chairs: *sniff* I didn’t even get to see any chairs. Next time, Elementary. Next time.

The Trailers: Here was the member of the paparazzi that I saw lurking by the trailers…

Most Fun Behind the Scenes Item: So, this is really just another set of signs. But it’s so hysterical just *how many* there are. Holding! Catering! Load-In! Campers! Set! Set #2! Again, so much involved in making TV!

Favorite New York picture not related to the production Are these people waiting in line for the iPhone 6?

NO! They are waiting in line for The Halal Guys Food Truck, arguably the most popular food truck in New York.

Production #4: Gotham (Madison Ave & 92nd St)

This was the coolest of the four sets. They were going to film an exterior shot, so I could have seen filming, but they were an hour or so away from starting filming when I got there and, sadly, I still have a job that I, again sadly, needed to get back to. But, even though I missed the actual filming, the set up was pretty fun to see. AND, I got a very cool picture with one of the props… :)

The Signs: Oh colorful production and To Set signs, I really really do love thee.


The Chairs: Oooo, dark and glooooomy.

The Set: As I said, this was an exterior set. In fact, they were setting up what looked like was going to be a fight scene on the steps of a brownstone, I saw them doing a little choreographing (which was fun). Also, again like the previous three sets, this location differed than everything before it. It was most like the first set in that it was in a quiet residential neighborhood, but it was isolated enough (or they were going to be filming in the street) that they were able to block off all traffic in the street. So there was nothing going on there except the production.


The Trailers: I actually didn’t go exploring for the trailers…there was too much to see on the set itself. :)

Most Fun Behind the Scenes Item: The License Plates!
If you take a look at the wide shot above, you might notice the color of the license plates on the cars in the street. That isn’t a normal color of a license plate in New York. Probably because… it wasn’t a New York license plate, it was a Gotham license plate! How fun!!


Electrical Item that made me go, “Um…okay” Is it just me or does this look like some kind of nefarious torture device? But, apparently, it was a working piece of equipment. What it’s used for, I have no idea, lol.

Favorite New York picture not related to the production Okay, this is actually related to the production. But it’s so New York that I can go for a walk on a random Thursday afternoon and get a picture like this! I love it! :)

Then, just over two hours after I had left my apartment, I headed back to the subway station for the trip back, a mere 80 blocks south of where I currently was, after having visited four different television productions in such a short time.

I <3 New York.

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