Feature

"The Box" -- Coming to a Center Near You
1.11.08
By: Jim Hodges

If you drive to work at Langley Research Center and you usually park in front of the Reid Center or in a lot that fronts on North Dryden Street or near the fire station, count on parking somewhere else on January 24.

Unless you're driving a 1972 Chevy or maybe a 1971 Ford.

"If you've got a 1972 Chevy, you can park it dead center and we'll make sure it's on camera," says Tom Trigo, laughing. "Just leave your 2008 Humvee at home."

Trigo, who lives near Charlottesville, is a location scout and manager who is handling logistics for the movie "The Box" when it films at the center later this month. The movie is set in the 1970s, and among the scenes are two driving shots on Langley Boulevard and one on North Dryden that involves a car pulling up in front of Building 1299 and actors going inside.

Yes, the streets will be closed to normal traffic as long as filming is ongoing. No, it won't take all that long.

"That's Thursday (the 24th) from 1 to 5 p.m.," Trigo says.

Yes, people probably will look out windows to watch filming. No, that's not a problem.

"People are welcome to watch," says Trigo. "We want to be good neighbors when we're filming here."

Otherwise, sets are closed.

"The Box" is a movie adaptation of "Button, Button," a short story by Richard Matheson that was published in Playboy magazine in 1970. "The Box" was first seen on "Twilight Zone" in 1986.

Tom Trigo visits the hanger. Image Above: Tom Trigo, location manager for the filming of "The Box," studies the night lighting at the Hanger. Credit: Sean Smith.

In the movie, a couple finds a wooden box on their doorstep. They are told they will become rich if they push a button on the box, but if they do so, someone will die.

It stars James Marsden, Frank Langella and Cameron Diaz. Marsden and Langella are involved in scenes being shot at Langley. Diaz is not, and is not expected to be here.

A casting call has gone out for NASA Langley employees who have a yen for work as an extra. Another has gone out to the general public.

About 150 extras will be used in a news conference scene in the Reid Center.

Other scenes from "The Box" will be shot at the Gantry and the Hangar from Jan. 24-25, and in the full-scale wind tunnel on Langley Air Force Base from Jan.28-30, though weather or delays in wrapping up shooting other scenes in Boston could change that.

Though negotiations to film at Langley were lengthy, Trigo says logistics haven't been difficult, particularly when compared to dealing with the private sector.

"What's great here is that the infrastructure is all in place," he says. "I know who to go to. Everyone here has been great to work with. Security, points of contact (for various facilities) and staff have been wonderful. They are the go-to people. There are no mysteries here at NASA … no real learning curve because everybody's used to logistics."

The circus that is a filming operation begins to move into Langley on Tuesday with some lighting and set-up personnel. That will involve about three trucks and about 40 people. The main crew arrives for the first day of shooting, scheduled for January 24.

The trucks will be staged on Hunsaker Loop, and the cast and crew probably will be fed in the Reid Center.

"People will see a lot of production trucks and support vehicles," Trigo says. "At each of the filming locations, you'll see big studio lights and cables running to the lights. You'll see a lot of lighting and camera equipment. The whole camera crew and its support is a whole little circus until itself."

There are perhaps a dozen scenes being shot in the five days the crew is on center or Air Force property.

Streets, says Trigo, will be open to regular traffic as quickly as possible after filming. So will parking. So will sidewalks along North Dryden and Langley Boulevard.

"We don't want to ambush people," Trigo says. "We don't want to surprise anybody.

"We know we're going to have an impact wherever we film. That's what doing your homework is about, going out, scouting locations, talking with points of contacts and their staffs. We've done that, and we're doing it."

No one yet knows when the film will be complete and ready for release. The process, beyond filming itself, is lengthy.

"We understand that this is a unique, historic location, and we greatly appreciate the chance to film here," Trigo says. "When all is said and done … you're going to see NASA Research Center in that movie, which is pretty exciting."

And a few people from the center will see themselves – if not their cars – and that can be even more exciting.

NASA Langley Research Center
Managing Editor: Jim Hodges
Executive Editor and Responsible NASA Official: H. Keith Henry
Editor and Curator: Denise Adams