Thursday, May 7, 2009

Touring the East Bay

Round 2 of site location scouting took Maria and Sam to the deep ends of the East Bay... Livermore, San Ramon and Pleasanton. This took a fair amount of driving and some good navigation skills, as well as a warm appreciation for the outlying East East Bay suburbs.

After compiling a rough list within a 20 mile radius, we narrowed it down to those stores that weren't couture and were closed at least two days a week (since we'll be forced to close them down for about four days). Not much left after that, cowboy, but we charged on.

Our first stop in Livermore was at Michelle's. After a wrong turn off the freeway we ended up at a stark mini mall. From the outside I wasn't impressed but the second we walked in we both were hit with a warm and friendly buzz. Sam ran out to get her camera and Maria met Diem, the friendly owner who had had the store for just a year. We loved the wood, the layout was wide, and there were wall-to-wall white dresses alongside a whole wall of mannequins. It was authentically usable, and even had a front area with a large planter where we could place a patio set. Diem was excited about us using the store, and Sam was worried that people couldn't get out to The East Bay. Maria was just happy that someone was glad to have her film there. That alone could seal the deal in the end.

From there we stopped in San Ramon at the dusty "bridal shop" in the other mini mall. After a brief look in the window, neither of us needed to go in. It was small, narrow, with racks on top of racks, and weird crooked things hanging on the walls. The shop did have its benefits, however. Although Maria was craving fries, there was a friendly little Mexican place just two doors down. So we shared a burrito and were suddenly rejuvenated. Maybe it was the big WHITE ARROW pointing to the Bridal Shop that brought us down a bit, but we were ready to hit stop #3.

As we drove through the cute little town of Pleasanton Maria could totally envision shooting the drive down the main street. When we pulled into the parking lot there was excitement at seeing a full patio set right out in front... just like in the script! We had a brief downer moment realizing that the store was closed. (It was the burrito! It made us 10 minutes too late!) But then we saw someone walking in. So we entered, and it was stuffed full of beautiful dresses. Three separate assistants were helping people, and more people were coming in... and this was 15 minutes after closing time. We loved the layout and the dressing room area with the podiums (and of course the well-placed patio set), but realized very quickly that the room would take a full makeover. Plus the wall of mannequins was directly in front of a wall of windows. No bueno, said Sammy. Mike (our DP) will have a heart attack. Then it was the owner, Jamie. She barely had time to breathe and take the business card. And even though Maria called and talked to her about it, Jamie was busy and overwhelmed and needed time to digest the idea of a "film production in the bridal shop." Only by the grace of God would it work with them. But ahhhh.... Maria really liked it.

And onward we go.

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