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Hollywood Center Studio Hosts “Elephant-Sized" Production

(October 19, 2005)

Hollywood Center Studios recently played host to one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. A 9000-pound African elephant made its way to the studio’s recently opened Stage 12 for a starring role in a new television commercial for Genworth Financial.

The commercial was directed by Believe Media’s Melissa Silverman for The Martin Agency. It shows a middle-aged couple discussing their financial affairs in a kitchen while ignoring “the elephant in the room.” The animal represents long-term care insurance, an often overlooked aspect of financial planning.

Actually two elephants were employed in the production, alternating turns in front of the camera. The animals were filmed on one of the 11 shooting stages at Hollywood Center Studios on a kitchen set built to accommodate their outsized proportions. “We built this cyc stage to meet the needs of commercial producers in particular,” said Hollywood Center Studio’s Tim Mahoney. “We had car shoots specifically in mind, but it works well for a lot of applications, including elephants.” Stage 12 is one of several cyclorama stages available at the facility.

 Like many fussy stars, elephants have strict requirements when they appear on a set. For one thing, their trailer must be able to park immediately adjacent to the shooting stage to avoid long walks. Their needs for “craft services,” however, only amount to access to water.

Additionally, the shooting environment needs to be strictly controlled. That was a particular concern for this shoot where the elephant was positioned in a cramped kitchen environment. “The elephant was supposed to look awkward, but in order to do that, it had be very relaxed,” explained Benay Karp, owner of Benay’s Bird and Animal Rentals, which supplied the elephants. “It was a big stage, but there were things all around her and we had to be sure she was comfortable. An elephant isn’t going to stay where it’s not comfortable.”

The shoot day was long, 12 hours, but came off without a hitch. “Hollywood Center bent over backwards to accommodate us,” said Believe Media producer Kathy Tishler.

According to Karp, the elephants were equally pleased with their day on the lot. “These two elephants hadn’t worked together in a year and when they saw each other, you could hear the trumpeting for blocks,” said Karp. “They’re girlfriends from way back. It was a great reunion.”

Credits for The Martin Agency go to Aurica Green art director; Ken Hines, copywriter; Molly Schaaf, producer; Carol Gordon, account supervisor, Amy Trenz, financial manager and Maggie Dunn, assistant producer.

Credits for Believe Media go to Melissa Silverman, director; Luke Thorton and Liz Silver, executive producers; and Kathy Tishler, producer.

Hollywood Center Studios is located at 1040 North Las Palmas Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038. For more information, call (323) 860-0000 or visit

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Related Keywords:Hollywood Center Studios, Genworth Financial, Believe Media

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