Turning L.A. into N.Y. a monster of a task

If the difficulty meter of logistics parallels box office, TriStar’s “Godzilla” will be a big winner.

According to location manager Kenneth Fix, “Godzilla” has provided the toughest hurdles in his 16 years in the business. “The logistics were frightening,” Fix, who also was the location manager for 20th Century Fox’s “Independence Day,” told Daily Variety. “We were constantly staring in the face of disaster.”

“The number of pieces of equipment and vehicles we had to move every night was 10 times the work of ‘Independence Day,’ ” Fix explained, referring to 90 “rain” cranes that created scenes of precipitation covering a one-block area.

To shoot a scene in downtown Los Angeles’ Second Street and Third Street tunnels, which double as Gotham’s Lincoln Tunnel and Park Avenue viaduct, took a lot of public relations muscle, according to production execs. Then to fire weapons in the area, production staffers had to get signatures of businesses a half-mile in each direction.

Production of “Godzilla,” produced by Dean Devlin and directed by Roland Emmerich, began its first days of lensing in May dealing with a freak tornado outside Hoboken, N.J.

Production then shifted back to more predictable Los Angeles in June. Except for four days in Hawaii later this month, “Godzilla” lensing will wrap in mid-October with stage work and special effects shot in Hollywood.

Cut to a traffic jam scene lensed in downtown Los Angeles at Seventh Street and Santa Fe Avenue, which doubles as Gotham’s Brooklyn Bridge. About 450 cars, trucks and buses are scattered to create the scene. But the catch is, the location coordinators have to set up, lense and then remove the vehicles and props between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m., then re-configure the sequence the next day.

The most challenging part of the Brooklyn Bridge scene, according to Fix, was setting up the 450 vehicles exactly the same way to shoot again. “We had to rent parking lots all over town,” Fix said, referring to keeping the cars and buses downtown. “In New York, there are no parking lots (available) to rent.”

While praising New York City’s strong support, Fix says some scenes simply can’t be lensed in Gotham. “New York doesn’t close down at night,” Fix explained. “Downtown Los Angeles shuts down at 7:30 p.m.”

“Godzilla” is primarily set in New York. “We needed a location as big as Godzilla, and after Tokyo, only New York has that scale and drama,” exec producer William Fay said in preliminary production notes.

Fix also gives megakudos to the Los Angeles permit office and lensing liaison Entertainment Industry Development Corp. for its cooperation. “They (EIDC) made themselves available 24 hours a day,” Fix said. “I don’t think we could have done it without them.”

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