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Creating The Third Age: Finding Locations

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It’s been a while since I posted an update on The Third Age. In previous entries, I discussed the origin of The Third Age, and the first step, casting. To catch you up, The Third Age is a sci-fi webseries that I co-created. We’ve been working on it for two years, and are getting ready to launch the show on November 17, after which point new episodes will air weekly, and updates will be appearing here weekly as well, detailing the production process.

Last time I discussed casting. This time, I’m going to talk about locations.

One of the greatest challenges facing us on every shoot of The Third Age was finding locations for all the varied settings of our story. After 30 shooting days, we’ve exhausted basically all the favors that were around at the start of the film, but have luckily made some new friends along the way who’ve helped The Third Age find a home.

One of the toughest things facing any filmmaker, but particularly the independent filmmaker, is the need to balance the ideal space you imagine and the reality of the space that you have. And that often means making compromises and trying to figure out the minimum of what’s necessary to convey the points you want to make.

The question that arises then is where is the line? When you’re getting down to the wire and need a location, it can be easy to say "this is a room, let’s just use it." And, that’s why a lot of the scenes in the series take place in either voids or plastic spaces that we could easily build.

In our story, one of the major locations is the offices and labs of pharmaceutical mogul Jerrod Woolf. In an ideal world, we’d have a large office, full of the kind of details that enhance the themes of the story, but that's not always a possibility.

Luckily, we’ve had a bunch of people help us out with finding spaces that have looked great on film. Here are some of our favorite spots:

Filming at Bayard StudioBayard Studios – We’ve worked with the owner of the studio, Kevin Foong, on a few things, and he’s been kind enough to let us use his studio from time to time. It’s a huge open space, painted black, with some ancillary spots off the sides. In this space, we created a psychological testing room, Jerrod Woolf’s den, and used the vast open space for some very cool dream sequence subjective stuff.

Shooting at 545 8th Avenue545 8th Avenue – The unofficial headquarters of Respect Films midtown, various rooms in this space have doubled as a psychiatrist’s office, Jerrod Woolf’s office, a green screen studio and a basement prison cell area. It’s great to shoot here in wide open spaces with plenty of room for crew and equipment to spread out.

My Old Apartment – The very first day of shooting on The Third Age took place out in South Slope, Brooklyn at the apartment of my friend and actress in The Third Age, Kristen. We shot down her street, then returned a few months later to shoot a scene with her at a laundromat that you’ll see in the first episode. A few months later, I wound up taking over the apartment from her, and it became a key studio location, doubling as a character’s apartment, a prison cell, another different kind of prison cell, and the roof of Jerrod’s office.

I man the camera at the reservoir.Larchmont Reservoir – This is a gorgeous park up in Westchester. This location doubled for a dreamscape version of Tibet, and also served as the location for a key action sequence late in Volume I.

On the journey for locations, we’ve traveled far and wide. We’ve shot at actors’ apartments, producer Amber’s apartment, co-creator Jordan’s old apartment, and many other spots. Luckily, we’ve always been inventive and have managed to keep a fairly consistent visual aesthetic across a wide variety of spots.

If I had absolute say, I’d have loved to be able to build more elaborate sets and not always be on a quest to find places to shoot, but so far it’s worked out, and hopefully we’ll be able to pull off just a few more locations to bring the film to a close in a satisfying way.

Ultimately, until you have a lot of money, you can’t always match your location to your vision. You’ve got to match your vision to your location.

And, to wrap things up, here’s a glimpse at the latest trailer for the series:

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