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The Streetcars (sort of) return to St. Charles Ave.

By November 10, 2006film, katrina, new orleans

Filming
I was delighted last week when I saw workers clearing the streetcar tracks along one small stretch of St. Charles Ave.  And they were doing the same thing over by the yoga studio that I go to, one by Carrolton and Oak St.  Little did I know what was really going on.  I found out the other day when Bruno, my yoga instructor, told us that there would be no classes on Friday due to the filming of a movie. 

Bummer: no streetcars, AND no yoga. 

On the other hand, I was glad to see that the city would be making
some money off Paramount pictures, which is filming an adaptation of F.
Scott Fitzgerald’s short story The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Brad Pitt is starring in the movie, and many residents are quite
excited about this. Not me, however.  Still, I decided to see what sort
of hubub would be taking place so scootered over at lunch time to check
things out.  As I approached the area on St. Charles where filming was
taking place I ran into a police blockade.  I asked the officer if I
could get closer as a mere pedestrian.  He said yes, so I parked my
scooter.

The officer was eager to chat and informed me that a whole six block
section of St. Charles had been rented by the movie studio.  "Do you
know how much that costs?" he asked me.  I didn’t know, and neither did
he but we both knew it was a lot.  He told me that it was okay to
continue on but that I might be stopped as I got closer to the
filming.  The movie was set in the 1920’s and apparently my blue jeans
and black T-shirt with the words ‘Get Real’ on the front would not fit
in with the overall ambience.

I walked to St. Charles and then made a right turn, heading for the
main action.  Didn’t seem like much was going on other than old time
cars were cruising up and down the street.  Definitely no sign of Brad.

I continued along the now desolate Oak-lined avenue, passing a young
man who was not part of the movie and apparently not interested in it.
As I got to the next intersection I saw another young man, this one
with a head set.  He was across the street talking to some Supreme
Cinematic Commander and when he saw me he started to wave both hands
furiously above his head.  I stopped, and as he removed his headset I
fully expected him to ask me to leave.  Instead he pointed to the Oak
tree next to me. "Hide behind the tree," he said in a stage whisper, as
though enemy troops were approaching.

I stood behind the tree and calmly slurped from my water bottle.  I
heard a bullhorn announce "ACTION," and realized that filming was about
to begin.  A model-T puttered by and made a U-Turn, and then a hyraulic
winch pulled a streetcar sparsely filled with F. Scott Fitzgerald
characters to the end of the street.  The winch was operated by some
guys who were crouched in a rectangular box that was draped with
camoflage netting.  After a few moments, I heard the word "CUT" and my
friend across the street softened.  Apparently, the coast was clear, so
I continued my journey into the thick of things.

At the next intersection I found an old car parked in the middle of
the street, surrounded by some guys dressed in 1920’s garb.  I decided
to take a picture of the car, and as I did one of the extras (actually,
"precision driver" is the correct term) approached me.  I politely
asked if I could take a picture of the car.  The fellow eyed me for a
moment and said it was okay, but I had to get out of the line of
filming because they were getting ready to do another shoot. As he
invited me to stand behind some shrubbery I noticed a postman across
the street, blithely
strolling along as he delivered mail to the various mansions on the
Avenue.  Filming was obviously being delayed while this occurred, so I
struck up a conversation with the fellow.  He was very eager to engage
me, and I quickly learned all kinds of things about the movie industry
(such as that "precision drivers" get paid $110 per day).   Mostly,
though, I learned why making movies is so ridiculously expensive.
Blocking off a major city street and paying lots of people to hide
behind trees and camoflaged structures is not cheap.

My new friend encouraged me to apply to be an extra, informing me
that filming was supposed to go on for another couple of months.  He
said he’d been in every recent movie filmed in New Orleans.  I asked if
he’d seen Brad Pitt.  "Nah," he said, "I don’t even think he’s in town
right now."  I told him that I’d consider his suggestion and then I
headed back to my scooter.  Of course, I had no intention of applying
to be an extra, or of doing any more celebrity stalking.

I’ve got better things to do than wait around for a glimpse of Brad
Pitt, even though I think he’s a great actor and all.  I will, however,
be waiting patiently for the streetcars to start rolling down St.
Charles Avenue once again.  THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is my idea of a
major production.


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

3 Comments

  • Sophmom says:

    Great story, well told. That is very, very cool. My boy misses the streetcar too (it’s how he was getting back and forth to school). He doesn’t seem to mind the bus though and sometimes rides his bike. I’ll ask him about Brad sightings. Do they pay extras? 😉

  • barbawit says:

    Streetcars would be nice,I miss the big green limousine.

  • mominem says:

    I think you can get $110 a day gutting houses. I thought show business paid better.