Category: Uncategorized

FT: Homes on screen…

Excerpt from Financial Times:

The other way to ensure that locations are secured smoothly is to use a broker. There are several operations, particularly in the industry’s hometown, that specialise in providing high-end homes that are pre-vetted for filming. They handle negotiations with a production company and take a cut, usually around 30 per cent, of any rental fees paid. Catherine Meyler runs one of them, Meyler & Co.

She’s an expat Briton who worked as a nanny in late-1980s Los Angeles; her employer was an architecture buff whose enthusiasm she quickly shared. She began traipsing around the city house-spotting as a hobby. Her knowledge of the town’s architectural infrastructure helped her stumble into a job finding locations, initially for fashion shoots, then for film.

Meyler’s roster of 2,000 or so properties includes mostly notable homes, such as those designed by Richard Neutra or Greene & Greene. A home by the latter in Pasadena had been painstakingly restored by its owners, and the producers of mini-series The Romanoffs were keen to use it.

“[The owners] found a huge, 2ft square chandelier during the restoration that had been custom-made for the house in a large hallway, and said it couldn’t be moved,” Meyler recalls. It was at risk of damage from the equipment so the location manager Chris Baugh suggested a solution: a chandelier babysitter, a crew member deployed to sit beneath it at all times. “The owner did agree to it,” Meyler says.

Read the full article:

“The genius behind this find.”

From California On Location Magazine, on the iconic Volcano House from Don’t Worry Darling:

“Originally, [the location] was conceived as a mining operation-type tunnel that ran into a mountain or descended underground to become a portal to another dimension. We combed the Internet and reached out to the local film commissions for assistance. In the end, the Volcano House surfaced via a suggestion by location broker Catherine Meyler. She’s the genius behind this find.”

—Chris Baugh, Location Manager

Anza Borrego

The superbloom in the desert has been in the news a lot recently and it reminded me of the last time I was in the Anza Borrego desert…

I had managed to find a huge, oval, empty swimming pool after a client sent me this brief:

And I found this:

So a few weeks later, there we all were, some of the most famous faces in the fashion world in the middle of the desert.  A rather incongruous sight I have to say.

The prop stylist, a lovely and extremely talented guy from New York, had flown into LA a few days earlier to research and pick up “desert-y things” and drive them out to the location.  On the way he saw some tumbleweeds by the side of the freeway and thought “hmmm, they look good” so he pulled over, threw a couple in the back of the truck and continued.

The shoot started well, everyone loved the location and the initial shots looked amazing.  All seemed well.

But on Day 2, the ranger assigned to keep an eye on us called me—apoplectic with rage.  He was so upset I couldn’t actually understand what he was saying—shouting—sputtering–except the occasional “get them out, they HAVE to go” and “you’ll ruin everything”.  I let him shout and rage until he had quietened down a bit and then asked him to explain more calmly, what exactly the problem was. 

On these kinds of shoots, it’s best to do all your homework in advance and try to ensure there are no surprises on the day.  Fashionistas don’t do well with surprises, especially in the middle of the desert on a jolly expensive shoot featuring the crème-de-la-crème of the fashion photography world.

The ranger calmed enough to splutter “it’s the tumbleweeds, f*****g get them out of here RIGHT NOW.  Do it carefully.  DON’T SHAKE THEM.  Just get them out NOW!!!  You’ll ruin EVERYTHING!!”  I hung up and called my excellent site rep who asked no questions just sorted it out.

I called the ranger back and asked if everything had been taken care of to his satisfaction?  “Yes” he said.  I asked what the problem was with the tumbleweeds.  

His answer kind of justified his rage:  if the tumbleweeds had “got loose” and blown away, they would have done their job and distributed seeds all along their path.  Tumbleweeds aren’t (weren’t?) found in the Anza Borrego desert, they’re common in the high desert, but not the low desert.  If they had been allowed to spread their seeds, they would have changed the ecology of the Anza Borrego desert forever!  OOPS!

Imagine if instead of this:

There was THIS:

Lesson learned; see also: Burmese pythons in the Everglades.

Modernism Week 2019

The weekend was jam-packed with things to do and people to see.  But there were a couple of personal highlights; on Saturday afternoon I went to a talk at the Annenberg Theatre given by architect and “global citizen” Moshe Safdie.  I encourage you to look up his incredible body of work and read transcripts of his talks; he is a truly inspiring gentleman.  At the end, he read a poem on life that he had written many years ago:

He who seeks truth shall find beauty
He who seeks beauty shall find vanity
He who seeks order shall find gratification
He who seeks gratification shall be disappointed

He who considers himself a servant of his fellow beings shall find the joy of self-expression
He who seeks self-expression shall fall into the pit of arrogance
Arrogance is incompatible with nature
Through nature the nature of the universe and the nature of man we shall seek truth
If we seek truth we shall find beauty

On Sunday morning, he visited my house—he seemed to like it, took photos of the “surprise” screen porch in my bedroom and observed that there was no superfluous space and from every window is a view of nature.  This seems to be in keeping with his general philosophy.

On Sunday afternoon, I attended the premier of the documentary “Neutra:  Survival through Design” by PJ Letofsky at the Palm Springs Cultural Centre.  I was one of a handful of Neutra homeowners interviewed for the film and was proud to be amongst such esteemed architectural academics.  Also happy that I didn’t mess it up!

Below: Brochure from Modernism Week 2019