Disqus for Friday The 13th: The Film Franchise




Interview: Owner, 'Friday the 13th: A New Beginning' Ranch Film Location

The shooting location for Friday the 13th: A New Beginning was always a mystery for fans as not much was known about the actual location for the shooting of the film. I interviewed Cathryn, the co-owner of the ranch, on the phone last February and asked her numerous questions surrounding the filming and production of the film on her property. Below is an extensive write-up of the conversation we had on the phone. There is a lot of interesting and some surprising information regarding shooting A New Beginning.

The ranch has hosted many shoots for TV commercials, movies, television shows, music videos and still photos. In fact, some scenes of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, starring Jack Nicholson, were filmed at this very ranch! Cathryn has met a lot of stars, but she remembers two in particular.

Randy Travis chose the ranch for a television film project and Cathryn found him to be both friendly and very much a professional on the set. She also mentioned that Harrison Ford once had a still photo shoot at the ranch and enjoyed picking a few oranges from the ranch orchard to take home.


Cathryn remembers when location scouts just dropped in on homeowners when scouting in a neighborhood for a production company. Eventually, after several shoots, she contracted with a Hollywood location agency which sent many projects her way. She also submitted photographs of the ranch to the California Film Commission to include in their scouting notebooks which is where the scout from Terror Inc. found the location. The scout arranged a visit to the ranch, took photos to show the producers, and then brought key members of the production team to the site.

Since the ranch spanned many acres and housed many buildings, it was thought to be perfect for filming. The ability to shoot almost the entire movie in one place was very appealing for a timely production and for budgetary concerns.

Cathryn negotiated, herself, with the producers to ensure that every piece of her property was left in its original state. All pieces of her property would be put back in its correct place and intact along with repainting any walls that had been altered for production. Additionally, insurance, on-site fire officer, overtime, specific ranch areas available, and many other details were negotiated. The production company wanted Cathryn’s family to move out of the ranch to a motel at the company’s expense, but that was not acceptable and the family stayed on site for the entire shoot.

The producers worked out a shooting schedule that would include times that the shoot would take place as well as when deliveries would arrive during the production. As we found out, these schedules were not always followed. Also, a question that was raised by the producers was something that we would never think of as being a concern. Cathryn was asked if killings portrayed in the story would bother her and if not, would a lot of killings be problematic. At that point, there had been no mention of a Friday the 13th movie – just a “low budget film”. This was kind of humorous, but apparently, very necessary.

The entire endeavor for shooting “A New Beginning” at the ranch spanned 3 months. There was one month to dress the location, one month to shoot, and one month to strike. During the process there were a number of obstacles to overcome. This was the longest production that Cathryn and the ranch have ever dealt with and that is why many details were hammered out before production began.

During the one month of time the crew had to dress the location, there was much to accomplish.
There was a lot of work that went into the barn to make it ready for filming as it was an integral part of the finale of the movie. For the entrance to the barn, there were three breakaway doors created to serve for filming the scene where Reggie breaks through with the tractor. Each huge door was made from Balsa wood and painted and weathered to exactly match the original doors of the barn. Cathryn mentioned that the reproduced doors looked just like the antique barn door they replaced.

Inside the barn, there was major construction that took place. The tool shed that Pam hides in and eventually pops out of with a chainsaw was made from scratch and was added just for the film. The bigger project involved adding the entire loft in the upper portion of the barn. The loft was necessary to achieve overhead shots of the main entrance to the barn as well as shooting the final confrontation of Roy, Pam, Reggie and Tommy.

In the main house, the entire front window was removed and three sets of breakaway windows were created from scratch. Each window set was made using balsa wood and every pane of glass, 14 in total, was made of “candy” glass. Both materials broke easily and was necessary as the window would need to be broken during the scene when Roy throws Reggie’s grandfather through the window towards the end of the film.

Upstairs, in the main house, Cathryn mentioned that her son’s room was transformed into Violet’s room complete with new purple paint job and posters. Her daughter’s room was dressed to be the room Robin stays in with the bunk bed where she encounters Roy and Jake.

While the dressing of the Ranch was being completed, the crew began setting up not only equipment, but their office space as well. Normally, production offices are off-site, but in this case, Cathryn’s Ranch had so much land and extra buildings that a deal was made to set up the production office at the shooting location. It was definitely a convenience for Terror Inc. to have so many components of the production at one location. The funny thing was that at the time, Cathryn had a tenant living in the building that was to be used for the production office, so she had that person move out of the building for the duration of the shoot.

One thing that was not counted on was that the crew actually set up their own workshop on-site, and used it to make set elements for the other locations; something that Cathryn was not aware was going to happen. Again, for the production, this all made sense, but it was a preview of what Cathryn would come to deal with during the shoot.


Memories of the Cast and Crew
During the one month shoot, Cathryn met all of the cast and crew that was on the film. She admits that although she did meet everyone that was a part of the production, she really doesn’t remember much about the actors or the crew at this point. A member of the cast that she does remember is Shavar Ross. Cathryn remembered that he was very nice and and down to earth. His mother and brother were often on set and, in fact, Shavar’s brother acted as his stunt double in certain scenes!

One thing that was remembered about the crew of the production, collectively, was the grumbling about being hired on for a “low budget” production at a “low budget” salary and later finding out that the film was a Friday the 13th that was sure to make money.

True, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning was a low budget movie, however, the box office grosses these movies pulled in were like a major motion picture. Since the movie was given the title, “Repetition” no one knew that the movie they were about to work on would be a major box office success. Once the crew arrived on location, they quickly realized that they were going to be paid lower wages than what they could have negotiated previously. Cathryn does state that the crew, were very professional in their jobs.

On a few occasions, Frank Mancuso Jr. and his sister would visit the Ranch during the shoot. Cathryn did not remember much else about his visit. Interestingly enough, her family has a small connection to the Mancuso’s as her father knew Frank Mancuso Sr. from a time way before he was CEO of Paramount!

The Filming Experience
Part of the negotiations for the use of the Ranch property were that there would be set hours that crew would be able to be on-site for filming purposes. However, Cathryn would see crew members and service contractors arriving at all hours – deliveries, pick-ups, even a few crew members who thought it was ok to bring friends or family members to show them the set – on Cathryn’s few days off.

There were also deliveries made to the Ranch during designated “off hours” and no crew members were around, so Cathryn would have to sign for the items. She was paid an additional daily amount for being available on premises. Some funny and scary situations did arise during the filming where neighbors that she didn’t even know would come to her Ranch and tell security that they were friends to gain access to the property. At that time there was no fence around the property so it was a logistical nightmare all around. Cathryn would see these people that she didn’t even know wondering around her property. She served as back-up for security, fire protection, prop house and resource person during the entire three months shoot.

Although, there were the negatives, there were the many positives involved with filming. Cathryn recalls one night of filming where the rain, wind and lightning rigs were in full operation for a scene. From a distance you could see this small patch of weather, a mini storm cell, hovering over her Ranch in the valley. At night, she said it looked quite spectacular. During the filming of some scenes, police would be called to block off portions of the road that surrounded the property. Neighbors were contacted and advised that they might hear “gunshots” from the filming.

Cathryn was in attendance for some of the death scenes in the film and described two scenes in particular. Juniors’ death scene was trimmed, as we all know, however, she recalls that in order to achieve the effect of Junior driving into the meat cleaver, they used a common filming trick. The filmmakers would start the shot with the meat cleaver in Juniors’ neck and then pull the motorcycle backwards at a fast speed. On film, the scene initially looked like Junior started at the decapitation phase, but then just drove backward. In actuality, the film would be run in reverse and show Junior driving his bike towards Roy and into the meat cleaver.

The other effects scene that was remembered was Bob Desimone’s (Billy) axe to the head. Cathryn recalls the fake head held up on a stand before it was needed, but cannot remember if she saw the actual filming of the axe to the head or if she was just told that the fake head was filled with a red gelatinous substance. In the movie, the audience only sees the axe hit the head in a split second and then cut away. The photo below shows what Cathryn describes.

Off-Location Shooting
Most people know that the opening dream sequence of the movie was shot in the backyard of Corey Feldman’s grandparent's neighbor's house. We know that the Diner scene and the trailer park scene, where Reggie’s brother was staying in his van, were also off-location. It was assumed that most all other shooting was conducted at the Ranch. According to Cathryn, there was one time that she recalls that the filmmaking crew left the Ranch to film additional scenes.

The scene where Tina and Eddie had their adult escapades was indeed shot in another location. Cathryn explains that there were not a lot of trees on her property and that certain scenes required it. Tina and Eddie were in a very wooded area. Also, she told me that there was no lake or any other body of water on her property, so the scene where Eddie is squatting by the water and skipping rocks is not located at the Ranch.

After filming concluded at the Ranch the cleanup then began. Every wall that was repainted, every piece of furniture that was moved, every door and window that was removed, all had to be put back to its original state. It truly was a month long process. As predicted, the crew did leave the loft and shed that was constructed in the barn. In fact, the shed and loft still exist in the barn today. Only recently, did Cathryn have some of the loft reduced in size.

Overall, the film was a draining process on Cathryn’s family. There was a lot to manage, but when I asked her if she would do it again, she said yes. I am sure there were lessons learned and a second go around for a three month production would be a bit smoother. I wondered if the producers ever asked to come back to film the next sequel and I was told that in passing it may have been mentioned, but there were no formal offers.

Cathryn was able to keep some pretty cool items from the production. She currently has a shooting script, a number of behind the scenes photos from during filming, a film strip and some of the prop plates and glasses that are made of candy glass. These were made for the scene where Tommy fights Eddie in the breakfast hall.

Here is one final story to leave you with. Cathryn would periodically cash checks from Terror, Inc. at her local bank. The paying business on the check indeed said Terror, Inc. After a while, a curious teller had to ask what Terror, Inc. was. Imagine telling your bank that you are cashing checks for having Jason Voorhees stalk and kill teenagers at your house! Every fanboys’ dream!

I would like to thank Cathryn for enduring my many emails and for being so gracious for talking to me on the phone for the time she did.
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