Archive for June, 2009

Dolley Madison backlot



First Day on Dolley Madison Set

Driving to the Dolley Madison backlot in Mechanicsville is a pleasant experience until you realize you’re lost, and due on set. “Lord,” more than one actor exclaims, you are in a country setting, rural homes, and no sign of anything resembling a production or a backlot. Actors check their directions again, because “this can’t be the right place.” Yes, Pine something Road is correct, but these are people’s homes. I might be on the wrong side of Richmond! Then, a beacon, one lone sign hanging on a pole, “Set” with an arrow pointing up a gravelly dirt road saving the day. Beyond the pines, in the midst of a cornfield, rises 18th Century Philadelphia; home to Dorothea Payne Todd.

Tents, trailers, and cars clump behind the backlot, while the hustle and bustle of a city takes place behind the scenes. Generators and the crew continue to grind away as they have been since 6A. This ghost town used for the filming of John Adams is reincarnated. Middlemarch Films’ production of Dolley Madison for Twin Cities Public Television and PBS is breathing new life into Virginia production.

Working with Emily “Eve” Best is a treat. Salt of the Earth. Gracious. She really is, well, a Doll! Her focus and interaction with every cast member was something to behold. Her attention to character and detail demanded respect. Her general sense of humor, and obvious care for her fellow professionals in front of and behind the camera made her a joy to work with.

Had a wonderful time on set. Met many working actors making Hampton Roads and Richmond their home: Theodore and Bonnie Johnson, Patrick Byler Clark, Steven Stone, Eric Odom, Alan Zimmerman, Erica (you out-of-town fashion plate, you), Chaz Rittenhouse, Maya and Susan Fogg.

Director Muffie Myers, and DP Tom Hurwitz were moving at a fast pace, and still taking the time to work with actors. Ms. Myers establishes an incredibly comfortable atmosphere to create in. It was just a great day of shooting. Really enjoyed with the entire crew: Producer Julia Morrison, Joy Phillips, Diane – great energy. Costumers Noel and Brad helped me keep my hat on 😉 and Constance and her double-sided tape kept me together. Denise and Linda did wonders on the makeup. And Louis, thanks for taking us on the breezy golf cart tour of the backlot and cornfield. Who needed air conditioning?! Jane even kept us well “Crafted” with healthy (mostly) food! Heather, Shawn, Joy – thank you for your camera skills as well as all your duties!

Twin Cities Public Television Executive VP, National Production Gerry Richman took it all in with a smile Buddha would be proud of. All-in-all, this crew made it look easy.

Looking forward to tour next day’s shooting. Sylvia Hutson, Henry Jaderlund – thanks for setting this one up.

New Headshots