Behind the Scenes: Hollywood East

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t’s late afternoon at the Blue Post, a billiards hall and watering hole in downtown Wilmington, and the floor is crowded with cowboy-booted extras. Beneath a ceiling strewn with paper lanterns and colored lights, the dancers box-step and twirl each other for a scene in the upcoming film “Tammy,” everyone smiling and trying not to look sweaty. Meanwhile, crew members with walkie-talkies edge the perimeter, camera operators man their stations, and line producer/unit production manager Chris Bromley keeps a close eye on the action. “What you see on screen is just the end result,” he says. “When you turn around and look the other way, you see the 200 people working to make that happen.” If anyone understands the mechanics of the movie industry, it’s Bromley. In his 26 years in the business, he’s filled the roles we don’t see on screen — from location manager to assistant director — and now, as a unit production manager, he’s responsible for everything from scouting locations to making sure the film stays on budget. He’s also one of the first people who comes aboard a new movie during pre-production. Once a studio has greenlit the project and hired its director and producers, the producers bring in Bromley and a location manager to choose the right spots to film. “Most scripts describe a certain setting,” Bromley explains. “You have to look at the locations that are scripted, and whether or not you can place the story in a certain locale. On some films you can say, this story takes place in New York City, but we’re gonna shoot it in Wilmington because we only have a few exteriors.” Once the producers and a production designer have deemed those places feasible, the team requests permission from the city to film. If they receive approval, they hire more members of the crew: the costume designer, production designer, director of photography, department heads. Working closely with the director and assistant director, Bromley breaks the script down into a production schedule — allowing the crew to know where specific scenes will be shot, on which days, and how long they should take to complete — and creates a preliminary budget. These, he says, are anything but set in stone. “We start with an estimate. It evolves from there, based on how the filming goes,” he says. Studio projects like this one could cost from $100,000 to $350,000 per day. Before production can begin, there is still more crew to hire: electric and grip, construction, props, wardrobe, hair and makeup. When Bromley says there are 200 people on set, he’s not exaggerating. The day-to-day life of a production manager requires him to be constantly on set, the go-to guy for any prob-lem that might need solving. He looks over the shooting schedule and makes any nec-essary changes. He examines the storyboards, keeps an eye on the payroll, takes calls from agents. He consults with the director and assistant director throughout the day — or middle of the night, if that’s what the shooting schedule calls for. Though production time can vary based on the size of the project and the budget, he estimates it at eight to ten weeks, with the cameras roll-ing 28 WBM july 2013 anywhere from 30 to 80 days. Bromley is a Wilmingtonian. He moved to town in 1990, and has lived in Wrightsville Beach for the last two and a half years. His job has taken him out of North Carolina, and out of the United States, for long stretches with films like “Hidalgo” and “The Bourne Supremacy,” but his three most recent films, “The Conjuring,” “Bolden!” and “Tammy” have had him working locally. His next project could take him anywhere — and could materialize between one day and six months after he wraps on “Tammy.” The next afternoon, the crew films a scene in the gravel lot out-side the Blue Post — which has been transformed from a bar into a I PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL TACKETT From left: Christopher V. Bromley line producer/ unit production manager and Rob Cowan producer “Tammy” and “The Conjuring” on the set of “Tammy.” The day-to-day life of a production manager requires him to be constantly on set, the go-to guy for any problem that might need solving. PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL TACKETT


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