House as Cinema Star - Page 3

Enticing Hollywood with light, openness and style, modern homes have become faves for TV and movie shoots
House as Cinema Star
House as Cinema Star
Eichler homes have appeared in many TV commercials over the years, including for Windex with the devilish talking crows (above).
House as Cinema Star
House as Cinema Star
Volkswagen's TV ad and the grease-covered do-it-yourselfer.

Why are filmmakers so entranced with modern homes? Is it just that they're trendy? Or does the right mid-century modern home contribute something special to a film, just as the right actor does?

And another question comes to mind among fans of the style. Why don't filmmakers make use of them more often? 'Cake,' after all, is one of relatively few feature films that have used an Eichler as a major setting.

"I think [film producers] like the open space, and the mid-century thing right now is very trendy," says Dante Pascual, whose Eichler in Balboa Highlands has been in commercials. "I think it has to do with the space and the lighting."

Kris Cunz, whose nearby home served as the setting for 'Cake,' says, "I think [Eichlers] evoke a certain return to the period when they were built. They were built for families, and I think they evoke that sensibility in people today. A lot of people enjoy that look."

Robert Foulkes, a location manager who has brought producers—including those of 'Cake'—to several modern houses, says, "Production designers and directors just love the layouts of a lot of mid-century modern homes, the flow of the house, and the glass." They appreciate being able to film from one room into another, and through the rooms to the out of doors.

"I have production-designer friends who love mid-century modern architecture, so a lot of times they choose these houses because of the statement they make about Southern California."

Foulkes recently worked with an agency on a TV commercial for the Chevrolet Cruze, shooting in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Mar Vista, its compact mid-century modern homes designed by architect Gregory Ain.

The producers liked the locale, Foulkes says, because of "the clean lines and the lack of clutter too. It's just a nice little house in the background."

It helps to find a modern neighborhood where the houses are intact, too, he says, especially for drive-by scenes. For their TV spot, Volkswagen benefited from this, showing their car cruising past a group of sharp-looking Eichlers. "For driving shots," Foulkes says, "you see one [home] after another after another that's been restored, and they all look great."

Barnz points out that there are also disadvantages to shooting in real mid-century modern homes like Eichlers. Asked if most moviemakers shy away from them because they don't look like 'normal homes,' he says: "There's a more practical reason. They're hard to shoot in. They're very small," noting that it's hard to place lights where they won't be seen by the cameras.