Spectre

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I recently read an article about Spectre, a fictitious Southern town that appeared in Tim Burton’s 2003 movie Big Fish. The movie tells the story of Edward Bloom who has always told these enormously tall tales. In his later years, he still remains a huge mystery to his son William. Will begins searching for the truth behind his father’s amazing stories.

 

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I had never seen the movie before, but was interested in visiting the set because of its location being so close to my home. I contacted the owner of the property and made my plans. Of course I had to watch the movie. I was pleasantly surprised. It is really an enjoyable movie.

 

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The film was shot almost entirely in the state of Alabama. Edward Bloom’s home town of Ashton was filmed in the city of Wetumpka. The town of Spectre is actually a set built on an island located on Jackson Lake, in Millbrook, Alabama. Upon on competition of the filming, instead of removing the set the owners were compensated and it was left as-is.

 

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Today the old set has seen better days. It appears that no one has attempted any maintenance or upkeep. In fact, except for the obvious, it has been left much like I imagine it was eleven or so years ago. This is both good and bad. On one hand the few who are able to visit the set are able to see it as it was left, but on the other it obviously wasn’t built to last. Two buildings (the stores) have already been lost to an accidental fire, and the elements are currently taking their toll on the others.

 

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It is very interesting to visit an actual movie set since it isn’t something that many are able to see everyday. For those who have seen the movie you’ll recall that the day Edward finds Spectre it is all clean and appears freshly painted. Later when the town is bankrupt, it appears old and run down.

 

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The paint is now peeling on the buildings, but its layers tell the story.

 

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This is the inside of the first house on the left as seen in the movie, which has smoke coming from the chimney.

 

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This is inside a typical house.

 

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The Mayor’s house is the only house that is finished inside. It is a one room set. This is where the Mayor (Loudon Wainwright III), Norther Winslow (Steve Buscemi) and Edward (Ewan McGregor) eat dinner together.

 

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There are ashes still in the fireplace from the fire in that scene. Notice the white boards used as reflectors and the light brackets above where the table would have been located.

 

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Some of the houses, including the church, have a very realistic brick facade.

 

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This facade is actually a sheet of fiberglass with a wooden cap.

 

 

 

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Located at the entrance to the town are two power poles that had shoes hanging from its lines. Today the wires and shoes are missing. A little further beyond are the two Styrofoam trees that attacked Edward on his way out of Spectre. I didn’t have any problem with them on my way out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Comments

  1. Andrew May 10, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    It looks so real in that first photo, Phillip, that I thought you were were going to take us on a tour round a little town. A very interesting image series.

    • Phillip May 12, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

      Thanks Andrew. They do appear to be so real on the outside.

  2. Jimi Jones May 12, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    Wow, what a great opportunity, Phillip. Certainly not something we get to see regularly, if at all. The images are really nice and it had to have been a fun time getting these.

    Great post, man. 🙂

    • Phillip May 12, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

      Thank you Jimi. It was enjoyable to find the opportunity. Like you said, it not something that a normal person like us has the chance to see very often.

  3. Otto von Münchow May 16, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    Great images and fun to see the environment since I have watched Big Fish. Tim Burton is actually one of my favourite directors and even though I don’t think Big Fish is among his greatest, it’s still a hilarious movie.

    • Phillip May 18, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

      Thanks for the comments Otto. My son would mostly likely agree with you. He grew up watching some of his movies. For me, well there’s a reason that I just got around to seeing “Big Fish” last month. However, I have to admit that, except for an unnecessary scene of Danny DeVito from which, I still haven’t recovered, 🙂 it was a pretty enjoyable flick.

  4. DaniLew July 3, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    What a great story and opportunity, Phillip. I love the detail shots.

    • Phillip July 5, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

      I’m glad that you enjoyed it. it was an interesting find.

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