The Real Spider Man-Bud Collins

The only exterior sets at Sony Studios. This no longer exists; this area is now basecamp for…The Goldbergs. The vent on the stage roof beyond is a ventilator. It sucks hot air off the stage and out the roof. It can also be used to clear the air of sawdust during a set build. Because of the noise, these ventilators must be “off on red light” otherwise-the sound guy will complain. The contraption that looks like a trailer is a chiller unit. It feeds air handlers inside the stages. These old stages were not built with air conditioning so pre planning for air conditioning is critical especially for shows this size.

Base-camp Spider-Man 3.

For Stars Catering set -up. This company is operated by two of the nicest, hardest working, most professional, chefs -Frank and Peter. Hats off to this entire crew. Frank’s lovely wife specializes in fancy desserts. When California has large wildfires, this rig heads towards the inferno, to feed firemen. This company is capable of feeding the entire studio and practically did at Universal Studios during filming of The Grinch.

You need a map to find your trailer…

A typical Spider-Man set on stage at Sony.

The tunnel curves to appear it goes on forever…

DNA experimentation begins here…

I think I’m understanding the formula!

Are you ready for the test class?

Stuff we might need to use

One of several stages used in this feature…

The hut on the left barely visible is a dimmer room. Set-Lighting controls lighting in these overly-amped, usually very warm rooms. The output is cabled over the top of the stage door to prevent trip hazards, then through the easement separating the two stages and enters through tiny cable holes that raccoons use to sneak into the stages. Often, I’m first on a set to get the power going and more than once I’ve met a family of raccoons picking over any food left out overnight. This is a generational happening. Raccoons adapted very well to show biz!

Interior Stage 22. The ducting coming off the air handler, left side of picture, is the other part of installing Air Conditioning Units. Some stages use up to eight of these 30 tons of refrigeration units to offset the heat of the lighting equipment.

Rooftops and sewers have a place in this show.

This stage is rooftops, there is not a complete structure here…Built from roof up.

A poster for the premier in Paris…very rare.

From the perms looking down like a real Spider -Man.

Careful up here, the fall will kill ya!

Studio Graffiti on the top of stage perms or catwalks – priceless.

A nicely done ledger of history written by Grips and Electricians.

My man –Bud Collins. This man is a legendary… His name was the first I learned at MGM, on the backlot. It’s chalked inside every single backlot set on New York Street. In places unreachable by kids that climb. We were fascinated by this guy- his name anyway. To this day, no other name turns up more than Bud Collins’ inside Sony’s Lot 1. Bud was not only the king of the backlot- but it turns out – the main lot also.

I Love This! Imagine how shocked I was to relive Bud Collins all over the Main lot. It triggered my childhood memories of this guy we always wondered about. He took claim to all things MGM. He was there when Combat, The Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond, Dr Kildare were filming. He saw so much. He was like our childhood idol. He did everything in white chalk and how he reached certain areas defies physics. He must be part Spider ManR.I.P. -You live on forever at MGM Bud, Great Job!

Bud Collins probably visited here too-The bar closest to MGM is legendary and is called appropriately, The Backstage. Combat cast tipped a few shots after a hard day’s night as legend has it. Larry Hagman, better known as J.R., found his way across the street for some spirits. MGM organized a sting operation in the 70’s searching for employees and drugs. The TV series CHiPs was scrutinized I’ve heard from a reliable source, MGM Security guard Dan Stein, who is still alive and well. Security had binoculars on the goings on across Culver Blvd that was taking place- Backstage.

“Keep an eye on that bar-there’s drug dealing going on”…George Barner, MGM Security, the big guy. Fire Marshal Fernald accompanying the very unpopular- Big George.

I had a fort on the top floor of this building that lasted from 1974 until the backlot was demolished. It was located on the top floor behind those two tiny square windows.

The view from the fort, we would open or shut the two swinging doors depending on security around us. Vets’ auditorium used to decorate like a Christmas tree, and we would sit and listen to music while enjoying all the lights that shined down on the backlot. Just a bench to sit on with signs and props from the street below. Most of this area below was warehouses that were removed prior to this picture. Below us, on the cement pad, was the Airplane Room. One of the funnest hangers you would ever want to see. Bud’s name is just above these doors.

Bud Collins- The Real Spider Man

If there was ever a guy that preceded the comic book character Spider Man, it is a man who was a grip at MGM and left his mark-everywhere. “Kilroy Was Here” can be attached to-Bud Collins. His was a name that kept reappearing in the strangest places on my old backlot. I hung out in those same hard to reach places as a trespasser, but his name caught everyone’s attention. Often because of where it was written. As if he was a spider, his name shows up in the most difficult places to access. Constantly just his name and a date, written in white chalk, like a ghost that left his mark then just disappeared.

As time went by, I figured it was just a backlot thing, so imagine how my mind shifted to reverse when I saw his name in several areas, once again, up top of the most difficult places to access on Stage this time. Bud the Ghost is at it again. I got chills seeing his name again- in all these areas I frequent. Then I saw the R.I.P. remembrance, written of course up in the top of the perms. WowMy heart skipped a beat!

I never met this man in a physical realm, but damn if we aren’t the same guy. He started earlier than me, so he saw the stuff get filmed whereas I just got to play with the left-over props. His name was in my fort, a hard-to-reach place on New York Street. Bud found it-that was a great fort by the way, made better by a man and legend, named Bud Collins.

Written and lived by…Donnie Norden

Please check out my YouTube channel for more insight and thrills…Phantom of the Backlots, Happy New Year everyone!

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