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Shot On Site - Fort Detmerring Exterior

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on May. 27, 2010 at 5:34 AM , Categories: Ghostbusters 1, Miscellaneous, Filming Locations , Tags: shot-on-site
For the past two years Chris Stewart has been writing a series of Shot On Site articles over at Proton Charging that document the little-known Ghostbusters filming locations, usually with diagrams showing how he was able to determine the locale in the movie by comparing it to the way it currently looks in real life. With his permission, I am going to build upon what he started for my own series of Shot On Site articles. In honor of posting my first Shot On Site article, I completely revamped my Filming Locations page to include thumbnails of all locations, and all of the new locations that were found by Chris Stewart, Nick Carr, and Chris Buchner. I also added all of the history text and some of the photos from Chris Buchner's defunct NYGB Tourguide site, with his permission. On top of that, I have also created an Unidentified Filming Locations page to serve as a checklist of the locations that still need to be identified.

For my first Shot On Site article, I am going to discuss a scene that doesn't even appear in the film! That being the infamous Fort Detmerring scene, of which there are two parts: the exterior and the interior. No video footage of the scene has ever been made available to the public, but we do have lots of photos - mostly of the Ecto-1 pulling through the Fort's gate. For as long as I can remember, I never knew where the scene was filmed - and yet I knew all along! In what could be described as a case of old age (even though I'm only going to be turning 33 next month), I had the locations of both the interior and exterior locales right here on this site for well over the past ten years, having typed them up by hand straight out of Don Shay's "Making Ghostbusters" book:
* The Fort Detmerring exterior set was a standing set at the Columbia Ranch, dressed rather simply with an identifying sign and a guard shack.
* The Single Officers' Quarters at Fort Detmerring, where Ray has his encounter with the Dream Ghost, is really a small set adjacent to Dana's apartment on Stage 12.
Having long forgotten that I typed that information up, I was genuinely happy when Willie sent me an e-mail last month with what he believed to be a photo of and information about the Fort's exterior shooting location. Now that I know that Don Shay stated it to be a standing set at the Columbia Ranch (now known as the Warner Bros. Ranch) in Burbank, California, which is also where the apartment earthquake was filmed, that confirms Willie's information to be correct.

The set that was used for the Fort Detmerring exterior is known amongst fans of the Columbia Ranch as the Convent set, as it is most notably remembered and seen in "The Flying Nun" television series as a convent in Puerto Rico. In August of 1970 a major fire broke out on the Ranch and destroyed almost the entire set. It was to be rebuilt according to plans, but was not done so. The stone arch that the Ecto-1 drove through is evidently a post-fire addition, when you compare it to the earlier set pictures. The standing structures were redressed to represent a Mexican village and left standing until September 1996 when it was torn down.

In this image from The Unofficial Columbia Ranch Site you can see what was left of the Convent set after the fire, now part of the Mexican Village set in 1996.


Now let's look at an enlarged portion of that photo, along with part of a Fort Detmerring photo to see where they compare:


There's the outline of a window and a door on the left of the archway that match up with the Fort photo, and clearly the archway itself matches. But what about the other side of the archway. There things becomes a little more sketchy. Using this other Fort Detmerring photo we can see a very noticeable difference:


As you can see, the set had a series of columns, whereas the fort had a solid brick wall with a door. So you might be thinking that this vast difference negates the previous match. Not so fast, buddy! Take another look at the two areas. Notice something they both have in common? The columns AND the wall both jut out from the rest of the set. Neither is flush with the archway wall. The Ghostbusters crew could have very easily covered the columns with a fake wall. Then again, maybe they didn't have to. Maybe another film crew made the modification and they went with it. After all, Don Shay says that the Ghostbusters crew dressed the existing set "rather simply with an identifying sign and a guard shack" (though I think they might have added a few more elements than that).

Willie pointed out to me that the two-page Fort Detmerring photo in the Ghostbusters storybook by Anne Digby shows a little more at the top of the photo than any other published photo. This particular photo provides us with a few more points of connection.


On the first half of the photo, you can see a window sill above the arch and above the sign, which matches up nicely with the set photo. The second half of the photo provides some nice hidden details that clearly show that we can't be decieved by the columns in the set photo. If you look at the light above the door, you can see a line separating the add-on wall from the old set. Above that you can barely see the lattice in the balcony above the light, obscured by leaves, and the top of the balcony above that.

The Unofficial Columbia Ranch Site says that this set can be seen in an episode of "Code Red" from 1981. That's closer to when Ghostbusters was filmed than the 1996 photo I'm using as a comparison. Maybe the Code Red crew covered up the columns. We won't know until Sony decides to release all 19 episodes of the series onto DVD (the series was produced by Columbia Pictures Television). Still, there are enough similarities between the set and the fort to satisfactorily say that the Fort Detmerring exterior was filmed on the Convent set on the Columbia Ranch.


For more information about Ghostbusters filming locations, be sure to check out the rest of Spook Central's Shot On Site articles, Spook Central's Filming Locations page, and Chris Stewart's Shot On Site articles. Thanks Chris for letting me use your awesome title.
1 comment »

1 comment

Comment from: Paul Rudoff [Member] Email
Ghostbusters II Mink Coat Attack Location Identified - The Biltmore Hotel in California! Thanks to Ben King.
Jun. 5, 2010 @ 02:11

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In Loving Memory of Joel Richard Rudoff (July 28, 1944 - January 20, 2014)

In Loving Memory of Linda Joyce Rudoff (July 12, 1948 - November 29, 2015)

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