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Backlot

From Academic Kids

A backlot is an area behind or adjoining a movie studio with permanent exterior sets for outdoor scenes in motion picture and/or television productions.

Some movie studios build a wide variety of sets on the backlot, which can be modified for different purposes as need requires and "dressed" to resemble any time period or look. These sets include everything from mountains, forests, ships, canals, jungle lagoons, country lanes, gas stations, town squares, a fountain, a church, a swimming pool, and small town settings from anywhere in the United States or the world, as well as streets from the Old West, to whole modern day city blocks from such places as New York City, Paris, Berlin, London, et cetera. There are streets that comprise an assortment of architectural styles, Victorian to suburban homes, and 19th century-style townhouses that encircle a central park with trees. Or, in the case of Universal Studios, the home of Norman Bates from the Hitchcock movie Psycho.

The shells, or facades, on a studio backlot are usually constructed with three sides and a roof, often missing the back wall and/or one of the side walls. The interior is an unfinished space, with no rooms, and from the back of the structure one can see the electrical wires, pipes, beams and scaffolding, which are fully exposed. Ladders are usually built into the structure, allowing performers to climb to an upper-floor window or the roof to do scenes. Not all the buildings and houses are shells, however. Some are closed in with a fourth wall. When not otherwise in use, they double as storage facilities for lighting and other production equipment. When in use, the structures are dressed by adding doors, window treatments and landscaping. L-shaped temporary walls are placed inside of doors to give the illusion of an interior. When not in use, however, the structures are usually stripped of their curtains, et cetera.

All the sets on a studio backlot are built so that what looks large or as if it covers miles of ground on the big or small screen, in reality only takes up a few acres of the backlot.

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