Friday, August 29, 2008

US 20 in NY: Taking Woodstock Set Pictures and Filming Information

The movie “Taking Woodstock” has been creating a lot of excitement on US Route 20 in New Lebanon, NY. (I’ve covered this on my blog here and here.)

A calendar of filming is being kept on the web site for the Town of New Lebanon, here. There is also a diagram of road closures, here.

There are also plenty of set photos that you can access at, here. They also have a nice write up about the filming:

Route 20 is one of the last great 2 lane highways, like Route 66 only in Upstate NY. And New Lebanon’s location is especially appealing because it is just a few miles from the Berkshires. Route 20 and the Berkshires offer plenty to do, antique shops, modern ruins, restaurants, and outdoor activities. It really is an interesting, beautiful part of the country!

In our first Taking Woodstock post we explained what the set was (an old motel set back off of Route 20) and what was around it (nothing). This post includes more pictures of them filming a scene in which an actor (who we recognize and can not place so if you know who he is please leave a comment and let us know) gets into his car outside of the motel. They also filmed exterior shots of just the motel from the road.

There were also a few old cars waiting for their close up so I am assuming they were filming more scenes later on. We didn’t see Demetri but we have seen on a few other blogs and message boards that he has been there.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

US 20 in Ohio: A McDonald’s Demolition

And now for something completely different. Here are a two videos of a McDonald’s restaurant being demolished, located on US Route 20 (Mentor Avenue) in Mentor, Ohio. As nature abhors a vacuum, another bigger, better, and no doubt more calorie filled McDonald’s will be built in its place.

The McDonald’s is only 1.5 miles from the home of President James A. Garfield , a National Historic site and part of the National Park Service, and also located on US Route 20.

Part 1

Part 2

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

US 20: A “Taking Woodstock” Update

I featured an article from the Berkshire Eagle on August 12 (here) about a movie – “Taking Woodstock” - being filmed on US Route 20 in New Lebanon, NY. Well, it looks like it’s been very good for the area, and it sounds like our favorite national road is getting a lot of attention. Here’s an update from the Berkshire Eagle:

'Woodstock' bolsters business

By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle Staff

NEW LEBANON , N.Y. — Mike DeBella is in the movie business.
He may never get a star on Hollywood Boulevard, but he is getting a much-needed boost to business at his Hitchin' Post restaurant.

Ever since crews came into town to start setting up to shoot the movie "Taking Woodstock," DeBella and his staff have been catering breakfast and sometimes lunch to the workers at the movie production staging facility down the road.

"We definitely got a good size increase," he said. "And they tell me that once they really start filming here in town, it's supposed be real busy. I may extend my hours depending on how that goes."

Workers for the film, which is being directed by Oscar-winner Ang Lee, have been living in campers and hotels around the area and eating in many of the local restaurants, such as DeBella's place, Bucky's Bagels and Shaker Mountain Barbeque.

Until now, much of the visible work has been in refitting the former Valley Rest Motel on Route 20 into a set for the film, a motel called Del Monaco. Inside and out, they will be using the motel for shooting scenes for the film, which is based on the book "Taking Woodstock" by Elliot Tiber.

Production offices are temporarily located in the former office of Ceramaseal, also on Route 20.

According to Colleen Teal, New Lebanon's town clerk, the film's planners started discussions with town officials in early spring, eventually

negotiating a temporary contract with the town that allows them to use a number of sites in a variety of ways without having to obtain land use or other permits that would normally be required.

Throughout the process, she added, officials with the production company, Tuxedo Terrace Films, have been "very proactive" about communicating with town officials, local businesses and community groups about what they'll be doing and what kind of disruptions or traffic they should expect.

The producer and screenwriter of the film, James Schamus, has a vested interest in making sure things go well, and that when filming wraps, there are no hard feelings. He is a resident of a nearby town in Columbia County.

"We always try to communicate with local people when we're working on a film, but I have an additional motive — that after this crew leaves town, I'm still going to be hanging around for 20 more years or so," Schamus said.

He also noted that New Lebanon townsfolk have been quite welcoming to the crew and patient with the difficulties the film might cause to everyday life.

"I've been involved in well over 100 films, and many times we don't have the situation we have here," Schamus said. "People have been extraordinary in accepting that there will be some disruptions. And people are actually communicating with each other about what's coming up — that is a big help."

"They give you a heads up about what to expect; they've been very good about that," DeBella said. "And they're always asking if we know local contractors or other businesses they need. They've been using a lot of local services."

For example, filming in New Lebanon should last four to five weeks, Teal said, and during September, scenes will be shot along Route 20 that will have to depict the monster traffic jam as concertgoers tried to reach the actual Woodstock concert. Filming those scenes will involve period cars and lots of extras. It is important that no contemporary vehicle wander into the shot, so Route 20 will be closed intermittently to allow the film crew to do its work.

"It's pretty apparent they know what they're doing and how to do it," Teal said. "And I think it's a wonderful thing for the town, especially the local businesses, in a year when the economy has had a downturn."

DeBella said the additional business couldn't have come at a better time.

"It was a tough winter, and this has gotten me caught up on a lot of bills," he said. "And hopefully, it will help me get through this winter."

An update and links to information on US 20 road closures for filming can be found here.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

US 20: Cross Country on a Motorcycle

Here’s an interesting story from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that talks about a local couple who went cross country on US 20 by motorcycle. They didn’t go the whole route though; they started in Canandaigua. NY. Still, a significant ride!

Ontario couple uses motorcycle to follow Route 20

Ron and Evelyn Stone of Ontario, Wayne County, had a simple strategy for their trip west this summer:

Follow that road.

In their case, the road was Route 20, a highway that starts in Boston, Mass., and ends in Newport, Ore., near the Pacific Coast.

With Evelyn sitting behind him on his BMW motorcycle, an R 1200 ST, Ron picked up Route 20 on June 27 in Canandaigua.

On their trip, they left the mostly two-lane road occasionally, either to skirt cities or to take in an interesting sight, but generally they were true to 20 as they traveled more than 3,000 miles across the country.

Ron, 64, and Evelyn, 61, arrived in Oregon on July 6 and then left Route 20, heading south and then west to see their son, Mark, 36, and his wife, Rena, in New Mexico.

Coming home a faster route, mainly on interstates, they arrived in Ontario on July 19, having logged 7,500 miles.

That many miles, that many hours of close, wind-buffeted contact, might strain some relationships. But for the Stones, there's no better way to travel.

"I like the freedom a motorcycle brings," says Ron, who has been riding for more than 30 years. "You can smell the rain; you can smell the pines; you can smell the manure."

Evelyn, who left her BMW home for this trip, adds that not only do motorcyclists get to see the country in a more up-close-and-personal way, they also get to meet more people.

A bike is a conversational ice-breaker. People at restaurants and gas stations come up to the Stones, ask them where they're from, where they're going, where they've been.

This was the Stones' fourth cross-country trip, the last being a 2005 trek following Route 50, a road running from Ocean City, Md., to Sacramento, Calif., that's billed as "The Loneliest Highway in America."

On their treks, the Stones travel light, packing just enough clothes for seven days. On the seventh day, they take a break, do their laundry and rest. (On this trip, the first seventh day came in Cody, Wyo.)

The Stones ride between 300 and 400 miles a day, stopping about 5 p.m., as night rides on a motorcycle can be a little risky, given deer, buffalo (yes) and other creatures on the road.

They also allow for "wander time." Their favorite deviation from their route this time was a ride up and over Beartooth Pass in Montana and Wyoming.

But many sights along Route 20 — including lava flows in Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho — stopped them in their tracks.

"It's hard to explain how beautiful this country is," says Evelyn.

The Stones stay in motels, often filling up on the provided continental breakfasts and then skipping lunch. For dinner, they try to eat at non-chain restaurants, off-the-beaten path places. The food is generally good, and they get to meet the locals.

The motorcycle averages about 50 miles per gallon, so they don't spend a lot on gas, though they traveled this summer at a time when prices were nearing an all-time U.S. high. (The peak was $4.98 a gallon in California.)

They drove into a drought and experienced no significant rain on this trip. There was still snow in the Beartooth Mountains.

The temperature was 62 degrees as they rode through northern California and 118 degrees in southern California after they moved inland on their way to New Mexico.

The couple is looking forward to more long journeys, including a jaunt to Newfoundland with friends. And they hope to cross the U.S. on Route 30, another one of the vintage highways.

"So many roads, so little time," says Ron, whose motorcycling avocation is also vocation, as he works part-time as the sales manager at Country Rode Motowerks in Fairport.

He and Evelyn plan to give a seminar at Country Rode on their Route 20 trip later in the year. Meanwhile, Ron has this advice to anyone who would follow their path.

"Just go," he says. "Just make up your mind and go."

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

US20 in NY: Woodstock Movie Filming in New Lebanon

Here’s an article from The Berkshire Eagle about a movie about Woodstock being filmed on Route 20 in New Lebanon, NY.

By the time they got to Woodstock
By Benning W. De La Mater, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Article Last Updated: 08/10/2008 12:19:02 PM EDT

If you focus the lens in for a tighter view, you can see the signs. Rows of 1960s hippie clothes hang on racks inside an office building along Route 20.

Just down the pavement, dozens of 40-year-old Chryslers, Plymouths and Volkswagens — lots of Volkswagens — wait in a field behind Chuck's Automotive.

Construction crews revamp the Valley Rest Motel, a dingy, dying $59-a-night roadside stop.

Just one week out from the start of filming, work is under way on Oscar Award-winning director Ang Lee's newest movie "Taking Woodstock."

The bulk of the film will be shot at 14 locations across Columbia County. New Lebanon, a rural town of 2,400 known for its Shakers, dirt track season and mineral springs, is the epicenter of the production efforts.

Talk in these parts is building.

"People are ecstatic," said Kevin Fuerst, 48, the town historian. "There's definitely a buzz."

Lee, the mind behind "Brokeback Mountain," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," and "Sense and Sensibility," was in town Wednesday scouting the locations, including the Valley Rest.

The movie is based on the book of the same name written by Elliot Tiber, a man who helped his aging parents operate a small motel in the Catskills and was influential in bringing Woodstock to Bethel, N.Y.

"The movie is about the preamble to Woodstock, and that's why I'm interested in the preamble to this movie," Fuerst said. "There's a lot going on around here ... a lot of logistics that are being considered."

For several weeks, construction crews have been working at the motel on Route 20, which the production crew is renting from a local businessman. They reconstructed a barn and built several new cabins on site. The old sign has been torn down, and "El Monaco Motel" is now painted in white letting on the roof. A 1950 blue Chevy pick-up sits out front.

Closer to town, Chuck Geraldi has been renting space at his auto shop for the crew to store period-era cars, like an orange Volkswagen Bug and a white 1960s police car.

"It's been interesting watching them," Geraldi said.

Outside of town, the production crew is renting space inside an old office building along Route 20. In the foyer, a "Brokeback" poster hangs on the wall, just down from a few black-and-white photos from the Woodstock event.

In a back room, a pink dress with white flowers clings tightly to a mannequin. Behind it, thousands of hippie outfits are lined up in rows.

Kay McMahon, president of the Lebanon Valley Business Association, said the movie has already boosted the local economy. Crews have been buying coffee and meals from area businesses and renting equipment from local stores.

"It's been great for businesses, and long-term, it will be fun to say that a movie was filmed in New Lebanon," McMahon said. "People are very excited."

McMahon said the movie team has been very cooperative with business and the town, a sentiment that town Supervisor Margaret Robertson seconded.

Route 20 will be closed intermittently during parts of September and October for filming. A public forum on the film will take place this Tuesday at the fire house in town to address any concerns citizens have.

Filming is set to begin on Aug. 17 and is expected to run 48 days. Some of the other sites include Cherry Plain State Park, a library in New Lebanon, and stops in Stephentown, Hillsdale and Millerton.

According to Variety's Web site, "Taking Woodstock" is being produced by Focus Features and will star Emile Hirsch ("Into the Wild"), Imelda Staunton ("Harry Potter"), Eugene Levy ("American Pie"), Dan Fogler ("The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"), Jeffrey Dean Morgan ("Grey's Anatomy") and comedian Dimitri Martin.

The crew held tryouts in New York and Vermont in June and July for the thousands of extras that co-producer Michael Hausman said will be needed to play festivalgoers, townspeople and police officers.

James Schamus, Lee's writer on the film, lives in Columbia County and recommended that it be shot in the area because its landscape mirrors Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, where close to 500,000 descended on the small town in August 1969 to hear bands like the Grateful Dead, The Who and Jimi Hendrix.

Fuerst said the minds behind the film chose well, as much of the small, rural towns in the county look similarly close to what they did in the 1960s and 70s.

Filming updates and links to information on US 20 road closures can be found here and here.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

US20 in Idaho: Boise

There is a lot of open space in Idaho through which US Route 20 runs. But US 20 gets some company as it travels through Boise, Idaho, running parallel and/or concurrently on two roadways with US Route 26, US Route 95, Interstate 84/184 and US 30. It is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, along the Boise River, and it is the capital and largest city in Idaho. Wikipedia gives a brief history of the city:

It is commonly accepted that the area was referred to as Boise long before the establishment of Fort Boise. However, the exact details of how the name came to be applied to the area differ in the available accounts.

Some credit a story told of Captain B.L.E. Bonneville of the US Army as the source of the name. After trekking for weeks through dry and rough terrain, his exploration party reached an overlook with a view of the Boise River Valley. The place where they stood is called Bonneville Point, and is located on the Oregon Trail east of the city. According to the story, a French-speaking guide, overwhelmed by the sight of the verdant river, yelled "Les Bois! Les Bois!" giving the area the name.

But the name "Boise" may actually derive from earlier mountain man usage, which contributed their naming of the river that flows through it. In the 1820s, French Canadian fur trappers set trap lines in the vicinity where Boise now lies. In a high desert area, the tree-lined valley of the Boise River became a prominent landmark. They called this "La Rivière Boisée", which means "the wooded river."

The original Fort Boise was 40 miles (64 km) west, down the Boise River, near the confluence with the Snake River at the Oregon border. This fort was erected by the Hudson's Bay Company in the 1830s. It was abandoned in the 1850s, but massacres along the Oregon Trail prompted the U.S. Army to re-establish a fort in the area in 1863, during the U.S. Civil War. The new location was selected because it was near the intersection of the Oregon Trail and a major road connecting the Boise Basin (Idaho City) and the Owyhee mining areas. Both areas were booming at the time. Idaho City was the largest city in the area, and as a staging area to Idaho City, Fort Boise grew rapidly. Boise was incorporated as a city in 1864. The first capital of the Idaho Territory was Lewiston, but Boise replaced it in 1865.

Nearby US 20 and I-184 is the National Historic Landmark Assay office, which served an important role in the mining industry in Idaho. Early in the 1860’s, Idaho’s boasted the third largest gold production in the United States. But, as it was hard to transport the weighty gold and other ores to the nearest U.S. Mint in San Francisco, the Idaho Assay Office was born, which placed a value on the ores.

The City of Boise web site can be found here.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.