Being a Film Location Scout Is a Great Job, Except When You Are Getting Kicked Out of the Scientology Center

Do I have a cool job? Sure. Does Scientology agree? I don't think so.
Publish date:
June 24, 2013
scientology, film scout

I work as a location scout for film and the occasional TV show.

Apparently, this is a “cool” job. Specifically, I am tasked with finding and securing the filming locations for whatever project I happen to be working on. Then, once all the locations are chosen, I deal with any and all logistics of actually filming at said location.

Some things I have to worry about: city permits, where to park all of the equipment trucks, where the crew will eat/go to the bathroom/park their cars, angry neighbors, interfacing with the police and anything else no other department wants to deal with.

Mine is the first department to show up on set and the last to leave everyday.

Mostly, I know it’s a really fun and interesting job, but I also know that I often have to be at work well before sunrise so… it’s hard to always maintain perspective.

Every once in a while though, something so absurd happens at work and I am reminded, this job is special. Case in point, a few years ago I was looking for a catering space for a HUGE scene we were going to be doing in Times Square. We needed space for our enormous crew and 500 extras to get ready and eat lunch. This is not an easy thing to find and I had been looking for it for a couple weeks so, I was getting a little desperate.

I remembered that the Scientology Center had a big auditorium (you know these kinds of things after doing this kind of work for a while), so I decided to swing by on the off chance they’d let us rent it out for the day. I put on my best “I don’t think your religion is a ridiculous cult” smile and walked up to the nice lady at the reception desk. I explained what I was looking for, and she told me she didn’t think they had anything like that.

I knew she was wrong, but I didn’t want to argue so I said OK and asked if I could use the restroom. She pointed me to it and off I went. The bathroom happened to be across the hall from the elevator and before I knew it I had gotten into the elevator and push the button for the top floor. I don’t really know what my plan was once I found the auditorium.

If they were so unwilling to entertain the idea of renting space to me that they wouldn’t even admit they had it, what did I think was going to happen once I found it?

These were the kinds of thoughts I wasn’t having that day. All I could think was I MUST find the space. I got off the elevator and started wandering around the hallways looking for the auditorium. When I didn’t find it on that floor I went to the next floor down and repeated the routine. On about the 5th floor I heard two dudes approaching.

I tried to duck into the closest door, but it was of course locked, and I was discovered frantically yanking on the door-knob as the two suits came upon me.

“Can we help you?” The older suit asked me skeptically.

“I’m just looking for the auditorium!” I replied brightly straightening up and trying not to look like a total sketchball.

The younger suit started to tell me where it was but the older suit put up his hand to stop him and asked me: “Why do you need to know where the auditorium is?”

At this point I knew the jig was up and I just kind of stared at my feet and said, “Weeeeell…” The older suit gestured towards the elevator and told me I was going to have to leave the building immediately.

I sheepishly shuffled my way onto the elevator feeling defeated. As I walked by the reception desk the “nice lady” I’d initially spoken to threw me some pretty epic shade and muttered, “I hear you got lost?”

How she already knew that I had been caught wandering the halls not 5 minutes earlier I will never know, but it scared the shit out of me and affirmed all the creepy thoughts I’d ever had about Scientology. You’d think this incident would have taught me to ease up on the trespassing at work, but about a year later I found myself (illegally) on Westpoint campus being interrogated by men with guns after I got my Prius stuck in some mud.

We’ll save that story for another time, though.