On June 1, 2008 Universal Studios New York St. backlot burned to the ground. Two years later it has now been reopened (as of yesterday) with crews shooting there again starting July 1st. Location scouting is now in progress.
Universal Studios New York St. Backlot contains 13 city blocks of standing sets in different kinds of buildings in different styles or periods in architecture. Before the backlot burned down it was the host to hundreds of films, television shows, music videos, and commercials, not to mention part of Universal Studios attractions.
Immediately compelled to rebuild, Universal Studios decided to build it bigger, better, and stronger. They were able to achieve this due to the hard work and knowledge of many of those in the art department but chiefly that of Rick Carter, Production Designer of Avatar, A.I, Jurassic Park and Forrest Gump, among others. The 200 million dollar budget also enabled Rick to design the facades of the sets 25 feet taller, build the streets narrower so both sides of the street could be shown in one frame at once, practical rooftops where there were none before, and my favourite detail, interior shooting locations. Usually you would have to build the interior of the set in a studio and then you cut to the exterior but the way they built the facades this time they are built so that the interior can be built right in and easily torn down after the shoot as per usual. This saves a ton of headaches and is really a great new attribute. I can’t wait to get a chance one day to work in the new backlot and use all of the brand new perks they have to offer. Watch the video linked below to acquire a better understanding of the new backlot.
Rose Lagacé | @artdepartmental