Into the Wild Blue Yonder
Since RV is a road film, it involved the use of five look-alike RVs and two
identical vintage buses. The cast and crew spent a lot of time on the road.
Though the story is set on the highways between Los Angeles and the Colorado
Rockies, it was actually shot in and around Vancouver, British Columbia.
The first major set in the film was the desert-like Nevada Campground. The
actual location was an area south of Vancouver called the Richmond Sand
Dunes. While not the most appealing campground, for production designer
Michael Bolton it typified the reality of life on the road and also served an
important dramatic function in the story. "The campsites we depicted at the
beginning of the movie were quite unappetizing," Bolton says, "We were in this
big sandpit, basically, so that the family really didn't know why they were RVing.
As the story progressed, the campsites became friendlier and prettier. When we
were up in the Canadian Rockies, it was genuinely beautiful. There were parts of
Alberta that were sensational."
The sand pit location proved to be problematic, since the months of May and
June in Vancouver are extremely rainy - not at all the look Sonnefeld had in
mind for his Nevada Campground. The production circumvented the problem
during the night scenes, which were all filmed in a covered arena that was
dressed by Bolton's crew to match the exterior location.
"We had this little book, a kind of 'Barry's Bible,' of things he wanted to see on
the set," says Bolton, "things that you wouldn't expect to see in an RV camp, but
are actually there. We had a large package of information and photographs taken
from many different real RV camps."
Explains Sonnenfeld: "RV parks are surreal. They're like golf courses, which are
also surreal. They're usually in flat spaces that are invaded with these tall,
strangely painted RVs. I wanted the Munros to have the most garish RV that
you've ever seen. I wanted it to stand out from the landscape, in a most unnatural
way, as if to say 'here you are surrounded by natural beauty and you're driving
this really unnatural-looking monstrosity.'"
The devil, for Bolton, was always in the details, as he worked diligently to give
each campground its own character. "Each of them is unique and there are
people for whom these campsites are their lives," Bolton says. "They have little
pens for their animals that they carry around in their RVs. They have little
gnomes and concrete deer. They have little lights strung around their vehicles.
It's like their own little portable backyard. They also carry around big piece of
Astroturf that they roll out like a lawn in the middle of the RV camp. When you
walk through some of these camps, everyone's yard looks different from the next
one. Each has its own personal touches."
To capture locations that resembled everything from the flatlands of Utah to the
majesty of the Colorado Rockies, the production spent nearly a month traveling
through in Southern Alberta, Canada. "We shot all over in places that look just
like the U.S.," recalls Williams. "There was one location called Milk River where
they have hoodoo (weathered, eccentrically shaped rocks) like they do in the
Utah desert. There are places that look just like Idaho and Colorado, except
when you see signs in English and in French, which they don't have in Idaho -
or maybe only in Coeur d'Alene. But it's gorgeous, and you realize that you can
go there in your own RV. It's like the next step above camping."
RV was indeed a step above camping. The production entailed a great deal of
travel and multiple locations, wrapping on a soundstage south of Vancouver
where the Munro and Gornicke families were dressed in their garish cowboy-best
and sang "(Get your Kicks on) Route 66" for use over the closing credits.
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