Obviously, a location has to be secured, because that suicide scene would be a lot less dramatic if a couple of students looking to get high in a stall wandered into the background. But there are times when you can't get permission to, say, block off an entire section of highway because the highway patrol just knows that you only need, like, 45 seconds worth of footage. Budget's a factor too -- we can't afford to book an entire hotel simply because we want to shoot there. Big-budget movies can get around this by heading to an entirely different country. Skyfall, for example, kept losing out on pre-credits chase locations in South Africa and India before they finally settled on a backup site in Turkey. But in television I can't up and say, "Hey, what if we packed up and headed to Vermont?"
My absolute worst nightmare came true when we were preparing for Breaking Bad's fourth season. We spent a lot of time at Gus Fring's chicken farm in the third, and as it was a prominent business, we took it for granted that no one was going to abruptly demolish it. Spoiler alert: The owners decided to abruptly demolish it.
Sony Pictures Television
No warning. I thought we were hermanos.
I called them about securing a new contract, only to be informed that the buildings were being torn down the next day. We had huge plans for that farm, and we may never know how differently the show would've played out if the chicken business had been making them better money. Instead, I grabbed a producer, a cameraman, and some contracts that would allow us to shoot establishing shots. Then I convinced the demolition company to tear it down from a certain angle so that our crew and his crew could do their jobs simultaneously. We got what we needed for the first few episodes, then transferred all the farm equipment to another location.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the part of this shot that's just out of frame is nothing but rubble:
Sony Pictures Television
And chicken corpses strewn as far as the eye can see.
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