Find Filming Locations and Watch Movies Being Made!
Optimus Prime in Downtown Chicago for Transformers Filming - by Jason Shoo
Last week I saw on our local news that Transformers 3 is being filmed in Chicago this summer. I immediately set out to find out where we could go to see the filming in action – all of my kids are huge Transformers fans!!
It was pretty easy to just Google “Chicago Transformers filming schedule“, which gave me the exact info I needed. I quickly found out that if I wanted to see if anything else was being filmed in my area, that was a little harder to find. And if we didn’t live close to a major metropolitan area, it would be even harder!
Find Filming Locations
I found out that before September 11, filming locations were easily available to the public. Now it’s a little harder to find them for security reasons, but certainly not impossible! The best resource I found was Before the Trailer, which has a whole section of Daily Filming Locations submitted by fans and PR reps. GOLD!
Other Ways to Find Active Local Film Productions:
- If the movie requires that streets be closed for filming, a street closing schedule will be released via your local newspapers. We plan on going to downtown Chicago the day they are closing Michigan Avenue, which is such a major endeavor that there MUST be some good scenes we can glimpse!
- Find your city or state film office. Since movie filming brings millions of dollars to local businesses, lots of local governments spend money trying to get Hollywood to come to their hometowns. Usually their websites promote area activity, check out the Chicago Film Office, New York Film Office, Vancouver Film Office and even the Montana Film Office.
Before You Go
I only have a tiny bit of experience watching films being made – Lucas was filmed at my high school the summer before my senior year. Most of all, I found that filming is WAY less glamorous than the movie is. They shoot scenes over and over again, and much of the time you have to stay so far away from the action that you can’t see much of anything. Here’s some tips to make the most out of your trip:
- Bring a camera with a good zoom lens!
- Set expectations with your kids that they may not see much – focus on the overall experience rather than getting a chance to meet Hollywood stars, which is unlikely.
- For a movie like Transformers 3, many of the characters are added via CGI in post-production, so know you won’t see 2 story tall animated robots walking around in your neighborhood!
- Bring plenty of snacks and water – you won’t know where you will end up getting the best view of things, and you might get stuck there for a while.
- If you have a smart phone and are on Twitter, it’s very likely that you can find others’ status updates to clue you in to star sightings, best viewing spots, or cool action scenes. Do a search for Transformers, or the name of whatever movie you’re watching, to look for leads on the best place to be.
- Bring something to autograph! If you do get lucky, you don’t want to have to scramble around in your purse for a reciept to get Shia LeBeouf’s signature! Just keep it small and simple – you probably will only have 30 seconds or so with your favorite star.
- Be flexible – sometimes the best scenes to watch are getting shot at night. They are also less crowded with spectators. That was the case with Lucas, when they filmed the scene where Lucas takes Maggie to the movies. That night I was just 50 feet away from Jeremy Piven, Corey Haim, and got my picture snapped with Kevin Wixted. FUN!
- Don’t overlook actors with smaller parts! Our town was completely smitten with the fact that Charlie Sheen was there in the mid 80’s, but my friends and I didn’t take any time to learn about who else was in the movie. Shame on us, because I passed by a very young Winona Ryder and Courtney Thorne Smith several times and still kick myself to this day for not getting a picture with them!!
Additional CC image credit: Hollywood Sign by Chang’r