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Filming a Night Scene Using A Tension Fabric Structure

tfs movie setAllsite Structures had the opportunity to help Columbia Pictures with a challenging situation. The studio needed to film a night scene, but do the work during the day because some of the actors were minor children whose allowable work hours were restricted to daytime hours. To complicate matters, the scene called for a swimming pool which needed to be built for the filming, and the timing was tight.

The open site was perfect for a tent solution, but the structure needed to be sturdy and allow for extra height. Allsite’s tension fabric structure (TFS) is highly versatile and can be used in various applications. Its design allows for a choice of heights, widths, custom lengths in 5-meter increments, and a range of anchoring solutions that are matched to the needs of the site and the user. Jason Cromwell, Allsite Structures General Manager, was able to propose and deliver a solution that met Columbia Pictures’ needs and helped them meet their film production goals at the site.

The solution proposed by Allsite was to erect a spacious tension fabric structure over the entire set, allowing for daylight to be blocked with plenty of room for the set to be built, as well as room for production equipment and the entire cast and crew.

Meeting Installation Challenges at the Site

Columbia studios warehouse rental construction
The structure chosen needed to have an exceptionally high clearance to accommodate construction of the film set, as well as room for overhead lighting and camera equipment. Allsite proposed a 157 x 246-foot structure with a ceiling height of 54 feet. To allow for extra overhead space, the structure would be erected atop shipping containers aligned and stacked three high around the periphery of the tension fabric structure. A total of 60 containers were placed. The structure was anchored on an I-beam frame, which was welded and bolted to the containers.

In order to stabilize the foundation created by the shipping containers and strengthen support for the structure, twenty water bladders were filled and placed inside the containers. Because the chosen film site was over reclaimed swampland, the entire structure sank slightly into the soil. The Allsite team installed helical piles to support the container foundation and halt the sinkage.

tension fabric frame for movie set

With limited space on the site, the TFS frame had to be built up from inside the structure, a challenge to the crane operator as the containers blocked a clear view of frame components as they were elevated into place. Jason Cromwell explained, “The crane operator was essentially flying blind.” Connecting the arches to the baseplates on both sides was a challenge as one side, blocked by the containers, kept coming up a few feet short. To solve this, the crew used a telehandler, or boom lift, to spread the beam and drop it into place as the crane supported the arches.

A Good Choice for an Urgent Temporary Building Need

allsite movie set scaledInstallation of the structure took about two weeks, a week each for container placement and installation of the structure. The studio was able to simultaneously continue to build the set inside the structure so filming could take place on schedule. A benefit of the Allsite tension fabric structure is that its modular design with high strength, interlinking extruded aluminum frame, and interchangeable fabric panels mean that configuration, transportation, and installation of the building can happen rapidly.

For industries like filmmaking, meeting deadlines is an essential factor in choosing a solution. Another benefit of an Allsite clear span structure is that the entire interior space is available for use with no impeding columns or other obstructions. This allows ample workspace and complete freedom in the configuration and use of the expansive interior space. For Columbia Pictures, this was the solution needed for their film project’s success.

For more information on an Allsite Structure for your temporary or permanent building needs, contact Allsite today at 1-888-532-0472.

Author Peter Milligan

Peter Milligan is a Business Development Manager at Allsite, with degree in Psychology from Lafayette College and 14 years experience in matching customers with Tension Fabric Structure solutions. Read more about Peter and the rest of our team at

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