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Shooting on location at a national monument may seem glamorous, but it often involves extensive prep to comply with strict regulations, restrictions and crowds — all for a short on-screen moment. For the cast and crew of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the seven months of planning and negotiations required for a one-day shoot at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington for Episode 6 of the show’s third season was more than worthwhile.
“Nothing beats a real location,” says production designer Elisabeth Williams, who’s earned one Emmy and was just nominated for another for her work on the series. “It’s an odd thing, but I think you can feel the spirit [of it] through the screen.”
Production - DC - Locations - Manager - Carol
The production’s D.C. locations manager, Carol Flaisher, is responsible for smoothing the way for the production. She specializes in the area and knows the ever-changing rules for shooting at locations in and around Washington. Flaisher submitted maps and exact plans that included where the production would place everything, including its video village and the large tents for dressing hundreds of background actors as handmaids.
One of the production’s needs at the memorial was shooting a scene around the Lincoln statue, located in an area called the chamber that comes with specific complications: Though the crew was permitted to film in the chamber, only ﬁve people at a time could be there and no dialogue could be recorded, Flaisher says. “The reason they restrict the chamber is because of demonstrations,” she notes. “Once you allow a demonstration [in], you’ve set a precedent.”
Rules - Production - Chalk - Painter - Tape
Other rules prohibit the production from using chalk or painter’s tape to mark actors’ positions, so “they better remember where they’re standing,” says Flaisher....
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