Many people do not know it, but my hedge maze was once used to shoot an impressive music video. The video helped to launch the singing career of a prominent V-logger. Although I wouldn’t recommend growing a hedge maze with the idea in mind of using it as a film set, this can be a benefit and help offset the costs of labor and time that go into the construction of a hedge maze.
My hedge maze is listed in a directory of mazes as “The M. R. James Memorial Maze”. I placed it in the directory in case anyone wanted to come and see it. I’d never received any requests for information from it. And then one day the phone rang…
It turned out that a local media production company was hired to do a music video for the V-logger Gabriella DeMartino. I don’t watch a lot of video bloggers (V-logs), so I had no idea who she was. The company assured me that she was quite popular on YouTube and that the video would not feature anything derogatory.
A quick check of her name on YouTube, and the Internet, confirmed everything I was told. Gabriella and her sister had a popular YouTube channel. Everything was above board. Once we came to an agreement on compensation, I invited the production crew out to have a look at my hedge maze.
They showed up a few days later and were impressed with the maze. Fortunately, I’d finished the latest trim with a pole saw a few weeks earlier and it was in good shape. I hadn’t given it the Big Trim treatment, so the walls of the hedge line were still high. They walked around, looked at the maze and sat a date to come and shoot the video. The whole interview took less than half-an-hour.
It turned out that mine was the only suitable hedge maze they could find. Every other one was either too short, remote, or closed to video production. It pays to be able to fill an empty void.
The shoot was scheduled for a Sunday night but did not begin until 11 PM. The video crew didn’t want anyone from the neighborhood interfering and felt the lateness on a work night would be best. Most of them showed up on time and began to assemble the camera rigs and lighting equipment right away. The crew was small, no more than five people. I happen to live next to a police station, so it was easy to flag down our local officer–of–the–law and make sure no local ordinance was being violated. He was alright with what we were doing but stressed that there couldn’t be any loud noises to offend the neighbors. If there was, he warned, the production would be shut down. I told him there wouldn’t be a problem and the filming continued.
The star of the show, Gabriella, still hadn’t made an appearance, but no one seemed to be concerned. By now the lighting equipment was in place. It wasn’t’ what I expected.
Having watched documentaries and shows about TV and movie production over the years, I was surprised by what the production company employed. I didn’t expect huge 35mm film cameras, but I thought the lighting system would be the same as they always used. However, instead of big klieg lights, all they had was a huge luminescent ball dangling from a fishing rod. I found out later this is standard practice on most nighttime shoots. The lighting system was called a diffusion ball.
Since I wasn’t needed, I went up the hill. I decided to wait from my side porch to see if there was anything needed.
I arrived at the top of the hill to see the star of the show arrive in a white SUV. She was a lot smaller than I expected. Funny how everyone appears taller in the videos. All she wanted was a room to do her make-up in and I was able to provide one. Once she was situated, I went back to the porch to keep an eye on the production, although there wasn’t a whole lot I needed to do.
It was a quiet shoot. I hardly heard a thing from them down the hill and in the maze. Every now and then I would see the giant glow–ball float on Its hanger across the maze. It lit it up. For some reason, I never got a picture of the thing in operation. Probably because I didn’t want to do anything to interfere with the shoot. You never know, perhaps they’d tell another client and be back. I heard the faint sounds of music from time to time, but not much. They shot the video without sound and added the musical numbers later.
Best of all, the crew were respectful, and I never had to worry about damage to the hedge maze. The finished the shoot, packed up, and went home.
Unlike the time my next–door neighbor decided to pour a concrete porch. I looked out the window one morning to see a cement truck backed up the hill, two inches away from my hedge maze. I walked out and told him not to get any closer to the hedge line.
“I’m doing the best I can!” the truck driver pleaded with me.
“That’s why you make the big bucks,” I grumbled and walked off.
But that was years earlier. Not enough for a full post.
Anyway, I’ll post the video at the top of this post and you can see the result. The hedge maze is different. Not only does it look shorter from the Big Trim, but the small statue seen it the screengrab is no longer inside the maze. I had it there for years, but the weather finally did it in. Not that my kids minded, they told me that little child statue scared them, for some reason. I never thought it too creepy, but that’s me.
Originally published 10/2/19