The Wright Stuff

On the eve of being dismantled, in the midst of a snowstorm, a Frank Lloyd Wright house of rare quality is captured in its original location for the last time.

The 1954 Bachman Wilson House, increasingly threatened by an adjacent river and the changing climate, would be trucked piece by piece from Millstone, NJ, to its new home, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, in Bentonville, AR.

Filmed and Edited by Jon Roemer.
Assistant: Dan Mezick.

Footage courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Music: Indian Piano Theme by Matthew Morgan.

This past January I was contacted by the museum at the recommendation of the house’s owners, architects Sharon and Lawrence Tarantino, to explore filming the dismantling of the Bachman Wilson House. As with most assignments this winter, it began on a very cold and very snowy day…

Filming exteriors before the snow gets too heavy. Bachman Wilson House, Millstone, NJ. January, 2014.
Filming exteriors before the snow gets too heavy. Bachman Wilson House, Millstone, NJ. January, 2014.
Filming exteriors - surprisingly no snow stuck to the lens. Bachman Wilson House, Millstone, NJ. January, 2014.
Filming exteriors – surprisingly no snow stuck to the lens. Bachman Wilson House, Millstone, NJ. January, 2014.

With a forecast of 8″-12″ my assistant Dan and I started outside, getting a jump on the exteriors while it was still somewhat bright and maneuverable out.  Thankfully, I had picked up a Porta Brace Rain/Snow cover for the C300 last spring. It worked perfectly, though given the snow, I had to fly blind relying on the camera’s peaking for focus.

After a cold couple of hours we moved inside to thaw and continue with the interiors. The house had been cleaned out for its impending dismantling.  While this left it on the bare side, little to no sign of it having been inhabited, it gave us a clean slate from which to work.

Outside I was able to use both the tripod and the slider. Inside we added the jib to the mix. I relied on practical lighting for the most part, showing the house as Frank Lloyd Wright had lit it. In a couple of cases, we pulled out an LED 1×1 or two to supplement or to provide a highlight.

I can’t thank the Tarantinos enough for their recommendation and the museum for the opportunity to work on this project. The museum has also been very gracious in allowing me to make my own edit of the footage (which you see above.) The film here is only the beginning, I returned another half-dozen times to document the painstaking dismantling process.