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Movie Set Materials Play a Starring Role in Reuse

Movie Set Materials Play a Starring Role in Reuse

May 2013Making a motion picture often involves building elaborate sets and demolishing those sets when filming is complete. But an increased environmental awareness has made some in the industry think twice about throwing it all away.

The Reuse Center at Boston Building Resources was the happy recipient this past summer of the materials used to construct a movie set in Swampscott. Materials from the set have been incorporated into homes of low- and moderate-income people in Boston and beyond as well as a local project that is part of the nationwide Living Building Challenge.

“So much material gets thrown away. It’s brand new material, and there’s nothing wrong with it,” said Mike Krause, a member of the carpenters union known as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Mike and fellow union member Adam McClain, working with BBR donations manager Paul Kiefer, coordinated the donation of five truckloads of materials to the Reuse Center.

In the film (Grown Ups 2 with Adam Sandler), a great deal of the script is set at a nighttime outdoor party. To allow the crew to film nighttime scenes during daytime working hours, the carpenters constructed the back side of a house, patio, pool, and pool house in a field, where it was covered with a giant tent to simulate night. The construction of the elaborate set in a field rather than in a hangar or warehouse “involved a lot of trailblazing” said Adam. “Nobody had ever done this before. The town inspectors and fire department weren’t sure how to deal with it. But everyone was on board with a commitment to find a way to do it safely.”

Once the filming was done, it was time to take everything down. “The donation process was awesome,” said Adam. “The staff at BBR was able to work within our window of time.” Having the production company, Columbia Pictures, on board with the donation process was also key; the producers allocated time and labor to deconstruct the set and prepare it for pick-up rather than just throwing it in Dumpsters.

Among the materials donated were pavers (3,000 of them), doors, 72 windows, columns, truss joists (more than 3,600 linear feet), lumber, and plywood.

Some of the structural materials from the set—including 32 LVL (laminated veneer lumber, 4” x 12” x 16’) beams—have been incorporated into a community building in Jamaica Plain that is part of the Living Building Challenge, a nationwide green building certification effort.