The beautiful fall weather made our new location for Mystery at the Johnson Farm a perfect experience. There was something special about shooting the farm scene at a suburban house that looked exactly like the book described, with the exception that the big barn and back forty would have to be optically rendered. The shooting day was right on schedule and everything that we needed to come together was fitting better than expected.
Even the special physical effects goose, used to attack the girl when she first arrives at the farm, looked just like its living counter part that was being shot some 700 miles away. The Atlanta team had an eye for detail and painted the grass to perfectly match the Midwest footage.
With our spirits flying high, one crewmember pointed out that this film was going to make us famous. Since it was my first children’s film, I wasn’t able to drink the “Kool-Aid”. That didn’t stop his excitement. Nor did it stop him from chatting with everyone on the set about the cars filled with fans that kept driving by to watch the shoot.
There hadn’t been any publicity or leaks to the press, so we didn’t need police to block off the street. In fact, the yard was so deep that all of our equipment and vehicles were on private property. In my mind, the only fans would be made up of curious people who happened to drive by or their friends who wanted to share in the event.
The longer the shooting day, the more the actors and crew were starting to pay attention to those driving by, a pattern that picked up as the day continued. I even started to take note of the various cars driving by and realized that not one of the cars returned. They were all different vehicles that drove by with an increase in frequency. It was becoming significant.
I soon bought into the possibility that our production team was a big deal for this suburban town. It was also possible that the press would soon be descending on us. We’d need to wrap and head to the next location before we encountered problems with the press, although I’d always considered that type of problem a good thing.
During our last break I chatted with one of the homeowners and asked her how she might feel with the press bringing attention to her home based on the film. She laughed and reminded me that we were on a quiet street and had nothing to worry about.
I took a quick moment to think about how I should point out the numerous drive-by fans that were on the increase. I decided to frame it as a question in order to bring the right magnitude to her revelation, “Have you noticed all of the cars driving by this afternoon?”
“Don’t worry about those cars,” she quipped. “There’s a repair shop at the end of the block and they test drive the cars down our street every day.”
I cracked up laughing. She tilted her head and gave me a curious look. I responded, “Never mind me, I just had too much Kool-Aid.”