Mike and Courtney invited me in early September to visit them on set of Mike’s newest movie, Poseidon. We planned our schedules for Friday, October 21st. It was unbelievable! I got my flight and hotel reservations to Los Angeles and invited my friend Brit from New Jersey to tag along. Upon my arrival a the LAX airport (it was delayed), I noticed I had missed Court’s calls and left me two voice messages making sure we were on plan for the next day. Because it was too late to call back, I decided to get back to her in the morning. It hadn’t hit me I was about to meet Mike and Court for the first time. We had been communication via e-mail and talked on the phone a few times, but I never thought this day would come. The next morning I called Court and asked her how we were going to meet up. The plan was that she and her friend Jessica would come pick up my friend and I in front of the hotel. Brit arrived a few minutes after my call, she went to check into the room and we waited for Courtney. I was nervous and excited all at the same time because I didn’t want to make a bad impression on Court and Mike. I like to keep professional, courteous and respectful. Just as Court had mentioned on the time, Brit and I saw her pull up and we proceeded to introduce ourselves. This was finally going to happen. We were going to Warner Bros. and actually meeting Mike Vogel in person.
DATE: October 21, 2005
LOCATION: Burbank, California
WHERE: Warner Bros
MOVIE SET: Poseidon
On our way to Warner Bros, Courtney and her friend Jessica made the car trip very enjoyable, comfortable and conversed with us. Court was very nice to us and I could tell that she was having a lot of fun already. She is beautiful and is very generous. Court let me know that she had called Mike’s sister to let her know we were coming and that she said hi to me. That was great to hear, because I, too, have chatted with Mike’s sister and she has a great personality. How awesome was it that Mike’s family was so friendly towards me? One of the questions they asked us was how Brit and I had met each other. Brit and I looked at each other and said “internet” at the same time (it was also the first time WE were meeting!). Court also showed us pictures of the famous pugs; Orlando and Olivia in a Easter theme photo shoot. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to meet the pugs, because Warner Bros. doesn’t allow pets on set. The ride to the set went by rather quickly, as we were nearing the studio. Just like Court had said, Warner Bros. is very tight with their security guards and they needed to see our I.D.’s. Then they gave us an index card-sized “visitor guest” pass with the blue WB shield watermarked in the center. They also checked the car. You know, just to be safe, and then they let us go in. The parking lot was full, so Courtney had to look for space at the top floor of the parking building. “Not again!”, Court exclaimed. We laughed and she explained this had happened to her before. This meant a lot of walking. We got out of the car and into an elevator, which took us down three floors and across a street where the trailers were stationed. Court decided to take us to the trailer and see if Mike was in there. She knocked, but didn’t get an answer. Court let us into the trailer and to my surprise, Mike had made it very homey. He had a lit French Vanilla candle and the stereo was on. I noticed there was a sink, an oven and a bed that was at the back of the trailer. I probably got more excited when I saw he was using the same laptop I had; a Sony VAIO. Same color and all! A few minutes passed and Court let us know that Mike was already shooting scenes for Poseidon, so we were going to go meet him on set.
While we were walking to the set, Court asked someone if they could drive us to the stage-set and a golf car appeared! Brit and I sat on the back of the car exchanging excited looks. Once we got to our destination, I thanked the driver and followed Court and Jessica inside into the set. My mouth dropped when I realized how spacious the set stage was and then the place began to darken down as someone behind me was closing the sliding doors. We made our way to the right side, walking next to equipment and cables all around. To my left I saw the front part of the ship where the ship’s captain will be controlling everything in the movie. To our right, a yellow truck was holding an enormous steel box-like prop. We were told Mike was shooting an underwater scene with the rest of the cast. And then we were told to wait and look around. The stage had several blue screen backdrops on the walls and in front of us there was a huge tank filled with water. We were told that The Perfect Storm was also filmed in this very same stage. Suddenly, I hear Court call out to Mike. Brit and I turned to look at Mike who was now making his way to us. He wore a gray-blue shirt with a towel on his head. The first thing that came to mind was that I was taller than him, haha! Mike extended his hand to me with a good grip and said, “Aaron, it’s nice to meet you!” and I replied with the same “It’s nice to meet you, too!” He also went to introduce himself to Brit and Jessica. Mike noticed Jessica wearing ugg boots and he bent down to unroll them so you could see the white fur from inside the boots. Jessica, playfully, said, “No, I don’t like that. Stop.” Mike ignored her and kept rolling both of them down, stood up and looked at her uggs and said, “So, aren’t you going for a Jessica Simpson look?”. Then we all laughed and I knew this was going to be a special trip.
Mike turned his focus on us and asked if we wanted to check out what the cast and crew were doing up-close, we said yes and followed him. Cables were all over the place and you had to be careful where to step because the floor was wet. As we grew near, I noticed that there was a row of chairs that the actors sit when they take breaks and in the back the Poseidon title logo was embedded. There was also a monitor that had multiple screens of different camera angles. Mike and all of the actors were called back on set. I saw a glimpse of Kurt Russell making his way to film his scene. Director Wolfgang Petersen sat back in his chair and put on his headset. Court, Jessica, Brit and I stood back a few feet away, but we could still look at the monitor. Mike, Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Emmy Rossum, Jacina Barrett, Jimmy Bennet, Mia Maestro and Richard Dreyfuss appeared on camera and they were waiting for the director to call the shots. I can’t say what happens in the scene, but it’s a very challenging scene that will happen underwater. Then we heard “ACTION!” and you could see everyone in the scene were back in character. I was in awe of how Mike had gone from goofy to worried that they weren’t going to make it out alive (in the scene). He really did put himself at risk, but since everyone worked as a team, the scene worked perfectly.
Fifteen minutes later, the director yelled “It’s a wrap!” and the whole cast, crew and us cheered for a job well done. Wolfgang Petersen looked happy and enthusiastic from having done another great scene. As fast as the water had leaked into the room where the actors were filming, it was absorbed right away with a machine. Mike and everyone else walked out of the steel container, grabbing a towel and they looked all very happy. Emmy Rossum smiled at me twice while we were there, too. Mia Maestro walked past me with a bathrobe and a towel over her head and John Lucas was heading off to get dressed because they were ready to have lunch. Mike walked over to us and told Courtney to go to the next stage because a lunch buffet was taking place. Mike, Court, Jessica, Brit and I were going to go sit and have lunch together. When we got there, there was food-galore! Salad, rice, pieces of meat with sauce and a fountain of strawberries with chocolate to cover them in! Jessica, Brit and I followed Court to a table and waited for Mike. Then we see him serving himself some food, but we don’t recognize him because he’s wearing a sweater with the hoodie on, but he takes notice of where we are and sits with us. He asked me if I liked the sauce, to which I said it was very good and how my mom makes really hot sauce and they won’t eat anything without it. Mike and everyone else laughed at this. He also asked me about my school and what I was doing. As I write this, I’m taking my Bachelors at a local private University in the bay area and I’m majoring in communications. This visit can really help me out, because I can use this for my BA thesis when I present on producing a movie, and how I went to Mike Vogel’s movie set of Poseidon.
When lunch was over, Mike gave us his own tour and we went into another stage where they had other important props that will be in the movie. Throughout the tour, Mike explained what they would be doing in the specific scenes. They let me bring my camera with me, so I took pictures of the sets. Mike is such an awesome guy and is very likable, because he would even joke with the crew members and talk to everyone. After we left that building, we went back to where he was shooting his underwater scene and no one was really there, so he took us inside the whole stage. There I told him to pose with Court and I took a picture of them together. I saw a small, blue, kids’ pool in the corner and jokingly I asked Mike if he had practiced his scuba diving in it and he sarcastically said, “Oh yeah, I’ve done everything in it”, haha!
After this, Mike took us out of the set-stage and there were people moving about. It was such a great, sunny day in Burbank, California. Mike lead the way and then showed us a little shack where a man was working on dummies that would make it into the movie as dead passengers. He told me if I was going to take pictures, that I shouldn’t post them on Mike’s website. I agreed to it and snapped away. These dummies looked very real. Mike noticed a burnt dummy and he joked that he was going to turn out like that by the end of the movie and we laughed it off.
Before visiting Mike’s trailer, we turned a corner and noticed that it was the Gilmore Girls set. The houses, the gazebo and the shops were all there. “Yup, that’s the Gilmore Girls set”, Mike told me as we walked side to side. I don’t remember what was talked about because I was so excited and I was trying to take everything in at a gradual pace. Finally, we arrived to where his trailer was stationed and we walked inside. The interior was warm and Court asked Mike why it was so hot. Then Mike said he would be back and walked out of the trailer. Court, Jessica and Brit sat on the sofa and I sat in Mike’s chair next to where he had his Sony VAIO laptop.
A few minutes later, Mike came back and in his hand was a rolled up poster and a black permanent marker. He went into his small room and from the back he shouted, “Aaron, one or two A’s in your name?” Court and I blurted out at the same time with “Two”, and we laughed. Mike came back with a signed Supercross poster and handed it to me. I didn’t know what to say, so I gently took it from him and looked at the personalized message written to me. Mike could tell I was speechless and he just smiled at me. Was this really happening to me? What a blessing! The message reads: “Aaron – Thanks for all your help. It means a lot! God Bless! Mike Vogel”. Mike extended his hand to me and I shook it. He said, “Thanks so much Aaron for coming to the set. I really appreciate all your work and this won’t be the last time we see each other. There will be more opportunities for you to come to other movie sets. I’ve got to go to make-up now, so it was nice seeing you all”. He pointed to Court and said, “I’ll see you later, Babe”, and left. And that was it! Our meeting with Mike Vogel, which lasted for two hours, ended and it only seemed we were there for 10 minutes. I’ve got to say that this has been one of the greatest experiences in my life. This was my fourth time going into a movie set and each time was a different experience. I visited the set of Spider-Man, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Bee season, but nothing would top Poseidon. It’s such a huge scale of a movie!
Courtney was so generous and sweet to take Brit and I back to the hotel. I told her I would write a ‘on the set’ story and post it online. She was okay with that and told us to have a safe flight back home. Court also told me to let her know when I got home. And I did just that. Mike replied, “Hey Aaron, It was really great to finally meet you. I’m glad you had a good time, and hopefully there will be many more good times on sets to be had by you and I. Look forward to talking to ya soon. – Mike”.
I want to thank Mike and Court for making this trip possible and memorable. I feel so blessed having to know them, Mike’s family and create an amazing fan base community. Going back home, I thought back to how Mike didn’t really had to do this for me, because his schedule is tight with how filming goes. But he took time out of his schedule to show my friend and I around. And I will never forget that gesture. All the support I’ve been getting from Mike, Court and his family has been super amazing. Thank you all and until next time!