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Scott's L.A.™ Article:
Filming on the Streets of L.A.

The comedy Old School starring Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson, Ellen Pompeo, and Vince Vaughn has become a very popular movie that many TV channels are now calling a “Modern Classic.”

Several scenes were shot in South Pasadena so people ask us about this movie a lot.  You can see these locations for yourself by taking our Pasadena CD Tour.

This “fraternity house,” and the “security gate” below, are seen on the DVD movie in Chapter 3, at 0:12:36 minutes.


House from Old School Movie




Warning Images of movie stars and stills from movies are Copyrighted. 
We do not have the

Copyright to show you images from this movie.  So, to see these locations as they appear in the movie, we recommend you rent or purchase Old SchoolThere are 2 versions of the movie, Unrated (un-edited) and R-Rated..

These photos were taken in plain view on a public street with the permission of the Old School Location Manager and a very friendly movie crew.


Old School's Harrison University

Most people are not aware of the astounding amount of detail that goes into making movies, and the dozens of skills and professions required to make the final product.  A fun way to learn about this process is to rent the 2-disk, Special Edition of Peter Jackson’s King Kong, or buy it for your home collection.  Disk #2 contains the Special Features which has an excellent, and very entertaining “behind-the-scenes” Post-Production segment that clearly and simply shows how they do virtually everything:  design, sets, miniatures, models, plants, costumes, special effects, lights, sound effects, computer generated images, editing, and more.

After seeing this disk, even the small sample of details required for a modest film like Old School  make more sense.

Here you see the crew of Old School beginning to transform this quiet residential street into the “Harrison University” campus.

The streets of South Pasadena are wide and have enough room to build the “Guard Shack” and campus entrance in the middle of the street.

HINT:  It’s not important how it looks in “real life,” it’s how the camera sees it that’s important.


Harrison University Street



The “brick walls” are actually plywood and fiberglass, the “Guard Shack” is a pre-fabricated metal building sitting on temporary footings to make it level.  The “concrete” foundation is a simple plywood railing that’s been painted to look like concrete.

On the bottom right you can see an electrical cable used to make the mechanical gate go UP and DOWN.


Old School Guard Shack



The finished product looks more real because of the plants (both real and artificial) and the leaves on the street which “mask” (cover-up) the gap between the “concrete” and the street.

This simple set piece, seen only briefly from a distance, required designers, artists, carpenters, metal fabricators, fiberglass molders, painters, electricians, grips (people who move things), truckers, forklift operators, and “greens people,” the men and women who are experts in decorating with plants, both live and artificial.


Old School Harrison University Sign



To make the street look more “campus-like,” they put in temporary stripes for angle parking and parking meters instead of the normal, parallel parking next to the curb.

You can see the yellow angle stripes on the bottom of the picture, and a parking meter on the left edge of the picture in front of the tree.


Movie Location tricks on street



Yes, that’s a regular hair dryer this painter is using to dry the street.  I took this picture early in the morning and the darker parts of the asphalt are wet from overnight condensation.

You can see the blue line near his shoe where the yellow line has to be painted, and you can see the dry, light-gray strip he’s created with the hair dryer.

The reason he’s doing this is because the yellow paint for the stripes is a water-based paint that can easily be cleaned off when they’re finished shooting the movie and it won’t stick to wet surfaces.  You can see the other yellow stripes he painted behind him.


Movie Location Set Design Drying



Here they’re preparing to shoot the “Morning-after-the-party” scene.  Again, lots of details.  In the middle of the picture is a tall, skinny tree.  It’s a palm tree, and “Harrison University” isn’t supposed to have palm trees, so they wrapped fake ivy around the tree (above the guy in jeans & red shirt).  The camera will only see ivy, not a palm tree.  All of these details are called “dressing the set.”

By the way, any car seen in a movie is called a “picture car,” and all of them have to be trucked to the location.


Old School Billboard



Here’s another example of a simple prop, a kiosk, that requires lots of detail.

First, the kiosk has to look permanent, but is, in fact, lightweight and on wheels so it can easily be moved from place to place.

The “MITCH-A-PALOOZA” poster is an easy print job, but look closely and you’ll see dozens of other flyers that are posted here, too.  All of them are different, all of them have to be designed, written, printed, and arranged as you see them here.  Some stapled, some pasted, some torn, etc. -- to give a detailed “college look.”


Billboard for Old School

Mitch-a-palooza Old School Party Sign



The most fun for the designers, prop people, and special effects team is to totally “trash” a place – without doing any damage at all.

This is just a hint of what’s to come.  Observe all the beer bottles up on the balcony railing.  All of them are props that had to be brought to the location and very carefully arranged for the camera.  These bottles were all props.


Old School Party House




The “crown jewel” of this set is this burned-out hulk of a car.  In fact, the “burn-out” is a combination of a special paint job and a special effects smoke machine placed in the engine compartment.

This scene was supposed to take place in the fall, so bright “fall color” leaves and plants were brought to the set.  All the brown leaves you see on the ground are props, they had to be placed by hand, then collected and returned when they finished shooting.


Old School Burned Car




The car is never seen moving, so you have to imagine the drunk driving that “must have happened” by looking at the “damage” it caused -- the broken parking meter, the empty beer bottles, cups, etc.

The Special Effects guy in the white shirt is letting some air out of the back tire to give the car a more appropriate “trashed” look.

Look in the back of the picture for more “Fall-color” foliage (props).


Special Effects burned car




Watching these Special Effects people work it was clear that they were having the most fun getting the “burned-out hulk” to look its best.

Here the technicians are making adjustments to the “smoke” which is a special non-toxic formula that won’t harm plants, animals, actors, or the environment.


burned special effects car




Here you can see the camera in the left of the picture.  It’s out on the street and the black camera dolly wheels will be put onto tubular tracks that allow the camera to move smoothly over the uneven asphalt.

As soon as the set is “dressed,” and all the lights are positioned correctly, the camera and sound crews, Director, and Actors can begin to shoot the movie.


lights camera action on set in pasadena




FINALLY, to answer the question, “Did Will Ferrell really streak up the street naked ?”  YES -- mainly.  (DVD [un-rated version] Chapter 4, at 0:21:34 minutes.)

This is where he did it.  This is looking up the street from the front of the “fraternity house” where Ferrell started his “streak.”

Neighbors who stayed up until midnight to watch the filming say he was wearing what the movie crew called “the sock.”  Neighbors say when they yelled “CUT,” Ferrell came back and signed autographs, still wearing the same “costume.”


the movie locations and will ferrell



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