Local movie filming brings back great memories


By Dianne Bonecutter Garrett

Contributing Columnist

I think it was awesome that another movie was filmed in Wilmington. It kept our little town jumping, and maybe some days confused with traffic flow, however, well organized. Of course there are always the complainers, but those with welcoming attitudes made up for any negativity

It brought back a flood of memories to me for when “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” came to Whitehall, a Columbus suburb. That week was a whirlwind as a new home went up like a child’s erector set. As a newspaper staff writer, I spent long days on site with the cast and crew. Since Whitehall was my home at the time, it made it even more exciting. The year was 2006.

The process required much pre-planning for the town, first responders and the neighborhood to be disrupted. Week prior to announcing, non-disclosure statements were obtained.

During filming hours, residents of that neighborhood had limited access to get to their homes. Imagine! They were given placards to identify that they belonged there when able to come and go.

The production company offered to pay for hotels and pet boarding for those whose lives were not conducive to the limited hours.

There were two homes directly across from the site that stayed, and made it fun for all. An ongoing friendly rival between Ohio State and Michigan only added to the energy.

Lima Company troops were asked to make a dramatic entrance, which opened that episode. Those able bodied soldiers then went inside to start preparing for demolition.

It would take a lot of space to share every detail of what was wrong with the house. Complications with the basement ensued, requiring builders to return to finish after filming.

Have you ever wondered how they build a house in one week? After the architects design the home, they start assembling it in a warehouse like a huge puzzle. Walls, pieces and parts are numbered. Everything is delivered, and it’s a pretty fascinating process.

Tents are set up for the designers making customizations. The cast for this episode were Ty Pennington, John Littlefield, Paul DiMeo, Ed Sanders and Tanya McQueen. It was fun working with them and getting acquainted. Two episodes actually resulted.

A near tragedy occurred when Ed made an error with a saw cutting a wooden flag wall hanging. He almost cut off his hand completely. The EMTs immediately administered aide, quickly transferring him to a hospital trauma center.

He asked everyone at the time to not report it right away. He did not want his wife to know until all calmed down, and he could personally call her. She was in the middle of a high risk pregnancy with triplets. Fortunately, all worked out. His hand was saved, and his wife delivered three healthy babies.

The big day arrived, the bus rolled in, and the rain poured. We members of the press and media took our positions under a crowded tent waiting patiently for hours. It was rather grueling, but when you’re chasing a great story, you hang in.

The shouts began on cue. Move that bus! Move that bus! The family showed very little emotion. Oops! The bus backed up. A frustrated Ty had a serious conversation with them. The chants resumed. This time the nervous family showed excitement and appreciation. That’s a lot of pressure in front of cameras.

It was an incredible experience. My efforts garnered three articles, and some of my best photography. Unbeknownst to me, my editor submitted my feature to the Independent Free Papers of America for the convention in Boston. Writers from Canada are also included. He showed up at my door to surprise me with a feature writing award. I cannot put into words how humbled and blessed I was that day.

I love to write, therefore, I do not do it for awards or accolades. The experiences and people I’ve met along the way have been, at times, life changing. I’ve laughed, cried and pulled my hair meeting tedious deadlines. I could be a name dropper, but only if it comes up in conversation.

As long as I have breath, I will always look for a great human interest story. Or, perhaps share some of my pearls of wisdom – whether you want them or not. Thanks for reading.

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