Screen Gems Studios
I’ve been to the studios to go to Fincannon and Associates to sign up to be an extra. I’ve been there to peek through the fence to see if we could see anything going on inside. I’ve been there for the wrap sale and auction. But that first time I went, I was in awe, because I was finally at the studios. Then I got to go on the set, and it was amazing.
This was the first time I’d been to Wilmington, and my mom, sister, and I were waiting anxiously for the tour to begin. They sadly told us we weren’t aloud to take any pictures, and we weren’t supposed to touch anything.
Just walking past those white gates makes you feel like you’re there. This is a place where magic happens, and not just for One Tree Hill. So many TV shows and movies have been filmed here, and the stories the tour guides have to tell about all of them are so interesting. Walking past the doors to all of the offices, there are so many names we recognize. Mark Schwahn has his office and his own parking spot in front of it. One of the big doors on the side of one of the stages is royal blue and has One Tree Hill written in huge letters across it. There are huge posters hanging on the fence, one of the five main characters and one of the adults from the show.
Before going to the sets, we went to the screening room and watched some things on the big screen where they check for mistakes.
“How many Dawson’s Creek fans do we have in here?” They asked as we filed into the room. A few people cheered. I wasn’t a fan yet, but now I love that show too, so going back to the studio and seeing the locations for that show around Wilmington was like it all being new again. They still have a big painting of the Dawson’s Creek cast on the outside of one of the buildings.
They told us more stories about the actors as we waited there for the clips to play and for the real part of the tour to begin.
“Joy is short, so they always put her in heels, but it gets uncomfortable after being on set for a long time. She always changes into sneakers and then forgets to change back, so if you look closely you can see her getting taller and shorter or you can see her shoes changing in a lot of scenes,” one of the girls told us.
First we went to Brooke’s house. There is nothing like being on set, but this was even different than the sets I was on when I was an extra, because when we were here it didn’t feel like we were on a television set. It just felt like we were in their houses. There were framed family pictures, there was food in the fridge, and there were clothes in the bedrooms. If you looked up, you would see all of the lights and everything, and if you walked outside you’d be in a big sound stage, but when you were in there, you just were.
“I wouldn’t eat any of the food in here,” the tour guide said to us as she opened the fridge door. “Some of this stuff has been here since the beginning of Dawson’s Creek.”
We even got to see things that hadn’t been in the show yet, like the Seven Dreams ‘Til Tuesday movie poster hanging on Brooke’s wall and Julian’s clothes and cologne on the dresser in her room.
“A few weeks ago, Sophia accidently left her script out on the counter here, and we had fans screaming and fighting over it, trying to read everything that happened,” the girl said. I think I would have just quietly slipped that into my purse and read it later.
Next we walked around Nathan and Haley’s entire house, and we went to Red Bedroom Records. I saw the albums lining the brick wall, stood there right at Peyton’s desk, and saw the recording studio next door.
The whole experience and the whole tour of the studio was amazing, but we still hadn’t gotten to the best part. As we were leaving, my mom, sister, and I were walking really slow, trying to see if there was anything else we could get to. We saw the Tree Hill police car and taxi sitting in the parking lot. And then my sister saw it. The Comet was in the back of the parking lot by the chain-linked fence surrounding the area. My mom asked the guy at the gate if he could take us back there, and we begged, and then this kid finally decided he could bring us back there. We walked up, taking pictures, and then he leaned down and opened the door. It was unlocked. I sat in The Comet, right where Peyton sat practically every episode.
“Sophia got a fancy new car a little while ago, and she let me drive it around the lot,” the guy was telling us. He could only have been a couple of years older than me, probably the same age I am now. He got to come here everyday, and he got paid for it. I wanted his job, and I still do.
Almost two years later I was back at the studio with my sister again. This time she was visiting me over her fall break. There weren’t any tours that day, but we just wanted to look at the studios and see if we could see anything. We crept along the fence, looking through, trying to get a glimpse of anything exciting. Then we saw the Kellerman car, the one that knocked Brooke and Jamie off the bridge into the water. There were two of the exact same car, and the fronts were both smashed in. We also saw Julian’s truck parked near one of the sound stages.
It wasn’t nearly as fun as seeing the sets and sitting in The Comet, but we wanted to see something else from One Tree Hill, and we did. I still get that feeling of inspiration when I go back to the studios, no matter how many times I’ve been there or what I’m seeing while I’m there. I want to have my own office in there someday.