1. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Baltimore landmarks?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by JadeX, Dec 14, 2015.

    Okay, so this one's not for my book, or any book for that matter. This is a short film.

    The basic premise of this short film is that a massive mega-quake strikes the US East Coast (yes, East coast, there is a dormant fault there that's overdue for a big event and I'm quite frankly sick and tired of earthquake stories set in LA or San Francisco - uggh, can you say "overdone"?).

    New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore are all basically shaken to ruins. The bulk of the story takes place near Baltimore.

    How should I set the scene so that the viewer knows it is Baltimore? Obviously a Maryland state flag would be nice to include at some point, but I mean the city itself. Baltimore, as far as I know, doesn't have and distinct landmarks. Nobody looks at a picture of the Baltimore skyline and goes "Oh yeah, that's definitely Baltimore."

    And I've looked up images of the Baltimore skyline. It's rather unimpressive, to be honest - there's nothing that stands out enough to still be recognisable in a half-destroyed state. Like, in NYC, for example, many people may be able to recognise the Empire State Building even if it was cracked to hell and back and had the top half missing. That's really what I'm looking for here, something that can set the scene and show the destruction at the same time.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
  2. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm from Washington, DC but I drive through Baltimore enough. In terms of things that are big and easy to see, I always notice the Domino Sugar plant which has a massive sign from the highway. A better and bigger landmark would probably be the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

    But the biggest thing a lot of people associate with Baltimore is the Inner Harbor, which is the touristy seaport area where the National Aquarium and a lot of historic ships are located. For non-Baltimoreans that's probably your biggest association.

    In terms of character, the city has a very industrial look to it (at least compared to DC), and it's very much a port city based around the sea. Driving through there you see a lot of big cranes and port-looking stuff.

    And when you're driving past the city on the Interstate you spend a lot of time on bridges and tunnels over/under the water. If you're in a post-Apocalypse world, the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel could be fun to play with.

    Also Baltimore is a bit of a baseball town and a lot of people (including out of towners), know the stadium at Camden Yards, because it's generally regarded as one of the best looking stadiums in the country in terms of architecture.

    Also if you want to have fun with local food culture - say something about Pit Beef...or crabs. Maryland is obsessed with crabs. Crab cakes, crab houses, crab flavored potato chips at every gas station, Old Bay spice on freaking everything (up to and including sweets), crab bumper stickers (seriously, like one in every ten cars has these silly crab-shaped Maryland flag bumper stickers). So yeah - that's a thing.

    That's all cursory stuff from an out-of-towner who lives in the next city over - I'm sure an actual Baltimorean would paint a very different picture, but those are the images I've gotten from the times I've passed through.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2015
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  3. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Great ideas! The crab-shaped bumper sticker is great! That's something I could easily print off and stick on a car somewhere in the scene.

    Crab-flavoured potato chips are a nice idea - most of the short film revolves around a single character trying to make his way back home, rummaging through the rubble and what-not in search of food and supplies - maybe he can find a bag in an abandoned convenience store. Nice idea, I like the little detail stuff like that!

    Upon doing some more research I did find that the Inner Harbor has several great landmarks, the most prominent perhaps being the Baltimore World Trade Center. I've made some CGI scene-setting shots which include the WTC and the nearby lightship Chesapeake.

    Thanks for the heads up about the Francis Scott Key Bridge. I had looked up "bridges in Baltimore" before but that didn't turn up - I now realize that's because the article I was looking at was actually about historic bridges in Baltimore, quite different.

    I may do something with the Domino Sugar Plant or Camden Yards, though I'm not sure what.

    I live in northern Ohio so some amount of filming may take place in Toledo and Detroit. I'll bet they have some decent port scenery I could use.
     
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  4. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Hey,

    I'm moving closer to production now. I've decided that one scene will have the character finding an abandoned convenience store. I liked your idea about the Utz Crab Chips, so this is where he'll find a bag of them to munch on.
    (Since I've never seen them near where I live, I'm going to print the design of the bag on newsprint paper, use spray adhesive to bind a layer of clear cellophane over it, and fill the bag with chips of another kind)

    This is probably going to be an important scene to work on if I want to capture that "local" feeling that I'm going for (I like to be as accurate as possible for maximum viewer immersion). So, can you (or anyone else in the Baltimore area) tell me more about a typical local convenience store?
    What other kinds of localized products might you see? Convenience store chains/brands unique to the area? What about wall decoration - signs for local companies/brands, sports teams, etc.? Also, a newspaper would be a great addition to this scene - does Baltimore have its own paper? (or is Washington Post more common?)

    For the exterior, I could probably use an actual abandoned convenience store (there's a few around my city).
    For the interior, though, I'm going to transform my garage into a mini-store. I'm going to move everything out of the garage, so all floorspace is cleared. I will use 6 long segments of wire shelf to make merchandise racks - 3 shelves on each side of the aisle. I only need to build one aisle; I can move items around and use a blue screen to make it appear as if the character is moving about the store.
    An old computer monitor and keyboard will serve as the cash register, and placed on a work bench that is built-in in my garage. Broader details outside of the aisle are not as important as the scene can be obscured by random debris, since there has been a massive earthquake.
    The garage door will be up, and the gap will be made to serve as the front of the store. A screen door (which I hope to acquire for free as scrap), with the screen removed (so it will look like any glass door with the glass missing) will be the entrance. Small, light metal or plastic strips will form window frames, and pieces of plexiglass or clear plastic will be used to simulate broken windows. Broken glass will be dispersed for effect.
    The entire set will be littered with rocks, bricks, cement chunks, debris, etc.
    For most of these materials, I'm going to try to find as much as I can at scrap/junk yards, metal drives, metal-only dumpsters, etc. Whatever I can't find I can buy on sale at a discount hardware store.

    As for the actual merchandise in the store, this is actual the easiest part: I simply save packaging from stuff we use around the house. When I open a bag of chips I open it neatly along the top, without tearing the bag, so it can be reglued later (I clean the bag out obviously). Empty boxes of crackers and snack foods can be saved and used as scenery props with almost no modification. This stuff takes up very little storage space; the bags are flat, and boxes of varying size can fit within one another or be flattened simply by separating the flaps (which can be reglued later for filming). The bags can be puffed up by stuffing them with tissues, toilet paper, cotton, basically whatever. In a few months, you can accumulate enough to stock a makeshift store scene - particularly useful if you cannot film the scene in a real store. Garages make great studios!

    I am hoping to do this on a budget of $100, perhaps $200 at most. I intend to collect as much as possible for free.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2016
  5. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm from DC not Baltimore so I can't do Baltimore specifically. The main thing I associate with the broader Mid-Atlantic is in terms of convenience stores is the Utz chip brand. Not just the Crab chips but all the more normal flavors as well (including both regular Barbecue and Carolina Barbecue, which is Barbecue plus vinegar, and the cheese puffs). And Maryland the odd obsession with Old Bay seasoning Crabs in general (seriously, McDonald's is offering Old Bay Filet O Fish as a promotion here). Also we're close enough to the South that Sweet Tea is a thing. In DC you always have Rock Creek brand sodas, not sure if Baltimore has those as a regional brand, but it's sort of a regional Faygo/Fanta type thing in like five really bright colors...I always buy the Peach soda, and they have a bright green Lime one too. That and you occasionally see Canada Dry "Black Cherry Wishniak" soda - which is just freaking weird to see on a label. That's what comes to mind generally.
     

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