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JHM Exclusive: Further stories from the set of Disney's "Haunted Mansion" movie

JHM Exclusive: Further stories from the set of Disney's "Haunted Mansion" movie

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Welcome, Foolish Mortals ... to a follow-up report to Monday's JHM column, which detailed A.K.'s experiences on the set of Disney's "Haunted Mansion" movie.

So many JimHillMedia.com readers wrote to me earlier this week -- saying how much they'd enjoyed reading about A.K.'s day on the set -- that I wrote back to our guest columnist, asking her if she had any other stories to share.

Happily, A.K. did. The following is sort of an expansion on her original column, which detailed what it was like to be on set during the filming of "The Haunted Mansion"'s Ballroom sequence:

(Per your questions, Jim) I'll describe the ballroom, even though it (has already been) shown on "E!" Leading into the ballroom is (this) ornate hallway. It has statues of armor lining the walls, but none of the suits look like (those that you see on the "Haunted Mansion") the ride (at least the DL one, anyway. Never been to WDW). The colors are bright, like purples and golds and reds and greens. Above the doorway to the ballroom is an iron eye-shape design with a "G" in the center for (Master) Gracey. Love the little details!

The format of the ballroom looks like the format from the ride, if you enter from the armor hallway. To the back are tall french doors. To your right is a table full of food (but it's more against the wall, instead of perpendicular to it), and to your left is the pipe organ. It's huge, and has to cascading staircases circling it. Above it are balconies.

In the center of the back wall is a massive fireplace, with little seats built into the edges. Above it is an iron design similar to the "G" in the hall, but this is an eye that looks out at the room. The color scheme is more golds and purples, with some ivory and the fireplace is black.

Outside the french doors is supposed to be a courtyard from what I've heard, but it was bare when I walked out there. Just a big sky scrim and a couple fake trees, but to the right was a giant greenhouse, like on the front of the WDW Haunted Mansion (haven't been there, but seen pictures).

There were ... about 250 extras on (set) the day I worked. Around six of them were servants, and one man was the organ player, though I'm sure he was paid much better than I was.

I worked the last scheduled day in the ballroom. They'd been filming scenes there for about a week. I wish I'd been there earlier, as they had been auditioning dancers from the extras a few days before. (Those selected to be dancers) went from the standard pay ($54 for 8 hours for non-union ... me, to $110 for 8 for SAG) to $1600 for the day. That would have been nice.

(As for) my costume. I had a fitting for mine two weeks before the shoot, which is weird. Usually they have them anywhere from a week to two days before a shoot. My dress is gold with a pink petticoat. It has pink bows on it and I have a gold hat and mask. My penier (penyay) -- I don't know if I spelled that right -- it's the bustle that accentuates the hips rather than the -- ahem -- rear, was three feet wide. I mentioned that before, but it was very funny to me and everyone else I encountered.

How long did it take all of us to get our costumes, wigs and/or false facial hair, masks and hats on? Earliest call time was 7:00 a.m., latest was 9:30 a.m. We were all dressed by 12:00.

On a normal day it would've taken (all of the extras) two to three hours (to get dressed for the set). But it was raining that day, so we had to have plastic bags placed over our wigs, then we had to walk outside to the wardrobe tents (assisted, to help us keep our skirts off the ground) and be helped into our costumes.

In the wig department, there was a flier in Mansion font that said "Welcome, Foolish Mortals ... to Hair and Make-up." It was cute.

Most of the girls were laced into corsets, but I was lucky, as my dress just had boning in it. The wardrobe women never learn, and lace the girls too tight. That's why that one girl passed out and was sent home. That or she probably locked her knees, as you (have to) stand around for (quite) a while. I loosened a friend's corset a few inches after about ten hours.

I think that's everything. Um, the food was yummy, but us girls couldn't eat a whole bunch of it, considering our dresses. I could only fit into the handicapped stall of the ladies room (too much info?). (I've heard that) the ladies of the Ascot (Gavotte) scene for "My Fair Lady" couldn't fit into the stalls at Warner Brothers because their hats were too big.

As I (mentioned in my first column), the costumes (that were used in the Ballroom sequence for "The Haunted Mansion") ranged from ancient Rome (a soldier and a lady) to medieval to renaissance to the 1700s (me) to 1800s. A friend of mine was dressed like a Catholic cardinal, while another friend was dressed as a devil. I made fun of him all day, because he wore a kind of red renaissance jumpsuit. Without his mask, I told him he looked like an ancient Telletubby.

I also saw soldiers of the day, and a woman dressed as Elizabeth I, but must people were dressed from the 1700s. Some were dressed as Chinese dolls and soldiers, and everyone had masks (on). Most of the men had false facial hair, and most of the women wore wigs (I did).

The music (that was played during the filming of this sequence) sounded like a riff ... (on) "Grim Grinning Ghosts" to me. Others suggested it was from the "Nutcracker Suite".

(As to where this sequence was shot) You know, I honestly can't remember what the name of the studios were. They were in Glendale. I keep wanting to say Bordwick, but I know that's not right. It has a "wick" in it. Barwick! That's what it was. (I know for sure that) it wasn't shot at Disney. Not the house scenes, anyway.

A little bit more information (on the sets for the "Haunted Mansion" movie. In the area where the extras were held prior to filming), there was another hallway that was grey with stained glass windows at the top of the doors. The design on the top of all of them (was) the Mickey icon (head and ears). In the hallway (there was this) really creepy elevator. It's an old fashioned wrought-iron style with the sliding gate and a cobblestone wall behind it. I'm not sure, but I think that (led to the) servant's quarters or something.

There was (also) a room where the walls were covered in rich gold curtains with black vine designs all over them. The room ... had a huge window in it. This could be a bedroom, or maybe a parlor (for wakes, maybe). It was part of the endless hallway, and the door has a circular window with another little door covering that on the inside. It has a little latch, and it's kind of like a massive peep-hole (I'm sure it has a proper name, but I've never seen such a thing). Heck, it may even be the séance room. I have no idea.

Also, there was a mirror that stood by itself that was labeled for the master bedroom. It has a Mickey icon on top of it. It's like they have these obvious hidden Mickeys. It's weird, but cute.

I have to admit it. Based on A.K.'s descriptions, Disney's "Haunted Mansion" movie -- at least from a production values point of view -- just keeps sounding better and better.

Those of you who'd like to learn even more about this upcoming motion picture would be well advised to head over the message board area of Doombuggies.com, where I hear that regular contributors Artdude and Nate (among others) have also posted detailed reports about their visits to the set.

Thanks again to A.K. (as well as the nice folks over at www.doombuggies.com) for sharing their on-the-set stories.

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