© SOU November 30, 1993
IN LOVE, IN DANGER
AMC’s Tad & Dixie on Location
The land had to be romantic, the scenery breathtaking, the weather blemish-free. But the biggest challenge facing All My Children’s supervising producer Tom deVilliers, when he began scouting the land for a place to set his cameras down and tell the story of Ted, Tad and Dixie, was coming up with something original.
“The whole point in choosing this particular location was that we couldn’t duplicate anything that we’ve done before. Which can be very difficult when you have a show that’s been on the air for 23 years,” says deVilliers, who faithfully mentions that although fellow soap Another World trekked up to Canada last winter for their snowy remote, the AMC sequences following the adventures of Tad, Ted and Dixie will be unlike anything anyone’s ever seen before.
“After last year’s pricey and well-advertised Budapest shoot, taking a plane ride to (relatively) nearby Canada might seem like it would be anticlimactic. Not so, relates deVilliers, who says viewers will be gasping for air after they see the terrific special effects and stunts that AMC has in store for Tad and Dixie.
Finding the perfect spot to film was something like finding a needle in a haystack. Massachusetts and New York State were in the running, but the powers-that-be at ABC and AMC finally decided to take actors Michael Knight (Tad/Ted) and Cady McClain (Dixie) to a rural spot in the Northern Ontario Province of Canada, in a small town (pop. Approx. 4,000) called Owen Sound, where the story of their forbidden romance could unfold surrounded by the majesty of the woods.
“AMC called up looking for a place with caves,” says a production official at Global Television, the Canadian network that carries AMC. The show scouted the area with officials from Global and with the aid of Canada’s office of Film Development, and they found an area that was perfect for the action, adventure and romance they were scripting.
While the show was thrilled with the prospect of shooting stunts involving some of the region’s 300-foot waterfalls, the town of Owen Sound, where AMC is hugely popular, was just as excited by the prospect of having the show’s stars visiting their town. “It’s been on the radio every day: ‘They’re coming, they’re coming,’” says one production official, of the hype surrounding the visit. “It’s great for the local economy; every hotel room in the entire town is booked.”
The fans will, of course, derive the most pleasure from this exciting, two-week-long remote. “This is the watershed stuff between Ted and Tad. It starts out as an effort to build their friendship, a partnership,” says AMC’s headwriter Megan McTavish. “But when Ted finds out about Tad and Dixie, all hell breaks loose. He is deeply hurt on a number of levels and his is really a very explosive character.”
Explosive is the key word, deVilliers says the remote’s series of dangerous stunts will be performed only by proven professionals. “We hired a stunt coordinator who is responsible for all the stunts involving Cady and Michael.” He says the actors will do all their own stunts unless it’s too dangerous for them otherwise. “As a matter of fact, we are using the same people we used when we went to Massachusetts when Tad fell off the bridge.”
Watching the final product on television will undoubtedly be loads more fun than creating it. From a technical point of view, working on a remote causes massive migraines for the producers. “Primarily, the greatest factor is the weather,” says deVilliers. “When you are shooting in the studio, you control the weather; you control the time of day. Since we are shooting daytime material, we can only shoot when the sun is up, so that is limiting. We can’t make artificial light so we are limited that way. If it should rain or snow, those things would slow us up,” deVilliers explains.
The region where taping took place is a very popular shooting locale with movie and television companies, Canadian officials explain. Among others, the movies “Quest for Fire” and “Black Robe” were both filmed in a nearby area. The locals say that the area is perfect for a romantic getaway, something isolated and secluded, and deVilliers couldn’t agree more.
“We had thought about using New York State, because New York has a lot of geography that is quite similar. We looked at the Adirondacks and the Catskills, but we couldn’t find anything that compared to Canada,” he says. “It’s just a very rugged country. There’s a lot of wilderness, with forests and waterfalls. It was perfect.”
McTavish says that the remote will be full of “danger.” She promises that the story will be exciting from the moment fans first catch sight of the breathtaking Canadian woods.
Of course, the locale is only a backdrop for the drama of the story. McTavish explains that Tad is a man who has caught himself in the world he created; he is torn between Dixie and Brooke and Jamie and doesn’t know which way to turn. “Tad isn’t really a bad guy. He’s a normal guy caught up in a heck of a situation,” she continues. “His thinking is, ‘I’ll go to the woods to be by myself and to get away from both women. This way I’ll have some peace and quiet and I’ll be able to figure out what to do next.’”
To further complicate matters, “Dixie ends up going because she finds out that Ted knows about their affair. Whether or not he will do something is the question. What Brooke does while Tad is gone is also a very important part of the story,” McTavish teases. “It is November,” she slyly continues; “a lot of things are going to pop every day.”
It’s an interesting choice of words, but McTavish is tight-lipped when asked if she means “things are going to pop” in any sort of literal way. Just keep watching, she says, with a promise that fans will not be disappointed.