Here’s a fun story…

If you’re doing production design on a $100,000 DTV murder thriller, you can usually resign yourself to doing paycheck work that isn’t going to get much attention, much less win you any awards. If you were on the crew of New Terminal Hotel though, you can feel a little bit better because a leftover set from that film actually managed to fool fire fighters and police officers who began investigating the “murder scene.”

Located in the George Washington Hotel in Pittsburgh, the set was put together in one of the hotel’s rooms and dressed to look like the scene of a violent murder. Anticipating the possibility of reshoots, and enjoying having a “scare room,” the owner of the hotel had the room left as it was when the production moved on. A fire in the hotel drew police officials, who stumbled across the set, and not knowing the story behind it, took it as a legitimate crime scene and called for detectives and more officers for 8 hours of overtime*. Eventually they caught on to the real nature of the room, and were apparently not as amused as the hotel owner-

“I smiled and the [coroner] looked at me and said, ‘I am not finding this funny.’ …I said, ‘Well, that is where New Terminal Hotel was shot. That is our scare room.'”

The hotel has apparently been the site of 12 deaths in the nearly 90 years of its existence, but in this particular case no one was hurt in the fire or the supposed scene of murder.

You can check the film out on-demand here at Amazon if you’re brave, but looking into the film a bit, there’s not a ton to find… it stars Stephen Geoffreys and the departed Corey Haim and was shot for 100k with a very tiny crew. In fact, I couldn’t even find a listing for a Production Designer, so I suppose the credit for the realistic set would go to set decorator Jennifer Halbrook. It doesn’t look like Jennifer possesses any other credits, but this is the kind of endorsement that could get her real work, if she’s still interested in the art direction business. That’s an unconventional resume builder to be sure, but it’s pretty special recognition to have the police be fooled by your work. Lets see an Oscar-winning production designer match that!

Set designers and make-up effects guys don’t often get a ton of credit, and are increasingly butted out by VFX people (as dramatized in these XtraNormal-style shorts, shared with me by Chris of the MN Film Board), so it’s fun to see a unique spotlight put on their craft.

Source | The Daily Mail (thanks Amy Fincher)

*While it makes the story slightly less funny, I expect they called in 8 hours of overtime, rather than actually having investigated for 8 hours, as I’ve seen the story spun.