To pay homage to the movie It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Kurt worked to recreate a few scenes using HO scale figures and props. While Kurt spent hours modifying and painting figures and vehicles, I researched the exact locations where the original scenes were filmed. The movie was filmed in Southern California where we happened to be staying at the time.
Kurt's biggest challenge was to find the HO scale vehicles to match the ones in the movie. For example, the HO scale tow truck Kurt used in his scene was originally an HO scale US Army 3/4 ton truck that he modified using paint, balsa wood, thread, rubber and cardboard.
My difficulty was to find the nearest location possible when the original filming location wasn't working out. When Kurt tried to photograph the HO scale tow truck driving down the hill in Yucca Valley, he realized that it was not translating well from an HO scale perspective so instead we relocated to the closest neighborhood with nice looking Joshua Trees.
When Kurt photographed the man and his bicycle standing in the road and flagging down a vehicle, we were right on highway 74, outside of Palm Desert. The area has drastically changed since the movie was filmed 54 years ago. Instead of a dusty, barren desert, it's now lush and developed.
The scene in Rancho Palos Verdes was tricky because it was originally filmed on a private estate. Fortunately, tucked in between large swaths of privately-owned land were a few public parks with views of the ocean. One of these parks had the ideal grass height to photograph the Big W scene. The ground was at a slight slant allowing for the horizon (ocean) to show in the final shot.
Although all of the scenes feature blue sky and sun, the last photo shoot on the Kern river started out as overcast and drizzly. Kurt was working with the conditions at hands when the drizzle stopped and the clouds broke for 15 minutes allowing Kurt to capture the last image of the series in nice light and with a blue sky.
We'd like to get back to Southern California soon to photograph more scenes from the movie. Thankfully a few recognizable features are still standing today but for how much longer?