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HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3: SENIOR YEAR

On Location
Filmmakers faced challenges including location issues, shooting in a real high school alongside studying students, and the physical and creative challenges of making elaborate movie sets out of an active high school and a working junkyard.

"Although the story is still set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Kenny said ‘I want to go back to Utah where ‘HSM' 1 and 2 were shot,'” says co-producer Don Schain. "He has become very comfortable with the environment, the crew and the dance talent in Utah.”

So for the third time, filmmakers utilized Salt Lake City and the real East High School as the feature film's primary location.

"‘High School Musical' just belongs in Salt Lake City,” says Efron. "Right here on this gym floor we did ‘We're All In This Together,' so it's good to go ‘home' and dance on that same floor.”

"This is our home,” agrees Hudgens. "I walk down these halls and think this entire place is just filled with good memories.”

Audiences will recognize the Montez residence and the Bolton house. Production also transformed a real junkyard into a fantasy dance arena. Other locations included the International Peace Gardens in Salt Lake City and the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, Calif., plus two days of stage work to complete production.

Production had to film at East High School for 15 days while school was in session before summer break started. Location manager Carole Fontana and her team acted as the chief liaison between the production and the school. "We were very conscious of the fact that filmmaking is not the primary business of the school,” says Fontana.

East High principal Paul Sagers thought it was great that the students were exposed to a working movie production. "The crew involved us when they could,” says Sagers. "When they needed to rent band instruments, for instance, rather than go to a rental house, they'd come to us. When they wanted basketball players, they'd look to our athletes first. About 800 of those 2,000 extras in the gym scene are our students and teachers.”

"When kids were curious, we'd let them take a look at what we were doing, to allow them to have a sense of ownership over this movie,” says production designer Mark Hofeling. East High School has become the second most popular tourist attraction in Salt Lake City. "Families come here and tour the Mormon Temple and then East High School,” laughs Utah Film Commissioner Marshall Moore.

But shooting a big-screen production movie in a real high school presented some challenges, says Hofeling. "My first reaction to reading this script was feeling a little overwhelmed. That anxiety just increased after my first meeting with Kenny. More is more with Kenny. "He really wanted to reintroduce kids to everything about musical film and musical theatre,” continues Hofeling. "We all agreed that if we're going to introduce kids to the song and the dance of the classic Hollywood and Broadway period, why not try to introduce them to a bit of the stagecraft of that time as well?”

According to Hofeling, the ambitious movie features four Broadway musicals. "One would be quite a challenge, especially since we're putting Broadway level productions in a high school theatre…not to mention in a high school cafeteria!”

"The great thing about a feature is that we could let our imaginations run wild,” says Borden. "Mark Hofeling really gave us some magical sets—sets that fly in and out and roll across the stage. We have true theatre magic. It's added a whole new dimension.”

Adds Ortega. "With this we were going for heightened high school reality. We are definitely somewhere between high school and Broadway.”

Theatrical lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe, who has worked with The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Cirque du Soleil and The Los

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