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Location? Location!
Working on a very tight budget, the producers for Inheritance couldn't always afford to hire the most experienced personnel. For the position of location manager, the job was given to Tim Griffin. Griffin had never been on a film crew, but he was eager and a former real estate agent. "We figured who else would know better how to find a vacant house than a realtor," joked director Kris Kristensen.
The shoot had scheduled two weeks in Mrs. Baker's home. With less than 5 weeks before cameras rolled, Griffin scored the perfect location. "This house was exactly what I had in mind, when Kris and I were writing the script," said cowriter Brian McDonald. Kristensen added, "Yeah, it was really strange. Brian and I never really talked aloud about what the house should look like. I had one idea in my mind, and Brian had one idea in his." And now they both stood in front yard of the house that they had both individually imagined. It was perfect.
Not only did it look perfect, but the situation for it was perfect as well. The owner of the home was living in Sri Lanka, and renting out his Seattle home. But he was unhappy with the current tenants and was evicting them in June, and returning to live in the home himself in July. That meant that the house was going to be vacant for the entire month of June, the exact time that Inheritance was going to be filming. The timing couldn't have been any better.
A week after their initial meeting with the homeowner, the filmmakers still hadn't heard "yes" or "no" from him. Location Manager Griffin became concerned since the owner was actually a friend of his, and this silence was unlike him. After several unanswered e-mails, Griffin finally got an answer from the homeowner: No. He had changed his mind for one reason or another, and wasn't interested in 30+ strangers occupying his home for 2 and half weeks. Who could blame him? No one's that nice, right?
Wrong. The film was now only 3 weeks from production, and the main location had just dropped out from under them like a trap door. The very next day after losing the initial house, art director Lefki Moraitis called, "I think I just found us a house, and it might be for free." Moraitis had attended a poker game of a mutual friend the night before. She relayed the story of losing the previous location and asked the owners Michael Wolf and Anne Dinning if they'd be interested in having their house in a movie. Without blinking an eye they answered "Sure, we'd consider it."
The following day Kristensen, McDonald, Production Designer Jean Landry and Line Producer Roy Wilson toured the house. It was a lot different than what the filmmakers had envisioned, but it was a stunning location and the price was right.
Co-writers Kristensen and McDonald always saw Mrs. Baker as a well to do woman, but this location took that to a whole new level. "The only drawback about Anne and Michael's house was it's isolation," explained Kristensen. "We really wanted Mrs. Baker's house to be in the middle of a neighborhood block. The idea was that it should feel like any ordinairy house, in an average neighborhood. This story could happen to you. We were trying to avoid the scary house by itself on the top of the hill."
"It's not a scary looking house, but it's defiinitely the house by itself on top of the hill," said McDonald. "We even had to deletea scene that involved Abbey hearing strange noises, but it a false alarm... some neighbors jump starting a car. Anne and Michael don't really have any neighbors, and we tried to come up with an alternative to it, but in the end there was no way to save it, so we cut it."
When asked what Dinning wanted in exchange for allowing Inheritance to film there she answered "Nothing." And then it got better, she asked if she and her family would be in the way during the shoot. Kristensen hemmed and hawed, not wanting to take advantage of her kindness. That's when Wilson jumped in with a smile, "Yes. Actually you would be in the way. There's gonna be a lot of people and equipment here at all hours of the day." That was no problem for Dinning, "Ok, we'll take our vacation and leave you guys the house."
Not only did the Wolf/Dinning's clear out for three weeks while total strangers invaded their home, but they also wound up investing in the film, and housed cinematographer Eric Adkins who was an out of towner. "Anne and Michael are saints," said Kristensen.
"I keep thinking we're going to go back to Anne and Michael's house after the movie is complete, and find nothing but a foundation overgrown with weeds," laughed McDonald. "When we start to ask around, their closest neighbors would say 'There hasn't been a house there in over 50 years. But the last people that lived there were big movie fans.'"
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