LIGHTS CAMERA ACTION BIG BUCKS

By Joe Frank

From The St. Petersburg Times, 04.17.1990, City Edition

Back when talk of shooting a movie in Pasco County was just grist for the rumor mill, Bill Cardoza was supposed to be the man with all the answers.

That made sense because the movie was supposed to be filmed in Land O'Lakes, where Cardoza is president of the Chamber of Commerce. But, in fact, Cardoza was privy to Hollywood secrets for an entirely different reason.

Location scouts for 20th Century-Fox were talking to Cardoza about trash removal. The movie people were glad to meet the Chamber president, but what they really wanted to talk about was whether Cardoza, as sales manager for Waste Management of Pasco, could handle the trash generated on the set of Edward Scissorhands.

Cardoza took the job, and is providing trash bins and waste removal at three locations, during the two months of filming, now going on in Pasco. Waste Management's work on the movie is just one tiny example of the way Edward Scissorhands, a fairy-tale romance, is pumping cash into the local economy.

"It's a little added shot to our business," Cardoza said. "The businesses (in Land O'Lakes) are quite happy, because a lot of the people working on the movie are going to restaurants and doing some local shopping."

Along with food and shopping, the film has spent money on labor, housing, construction supplies, props and incidentals such as garbage collection, combining to inject as much as $4-million into Pasco and the Tampa Bay economy, according to Jay Sedrish, the Scissorhands accountant.

For comparison, that figure represents 2 percent of Florida's $200-million film industry, and about a quarter of the money generated annually by a spring training team.

However, Pasco County didn't have to build a stadium to attract the film.

Director Tim Burton, who also made Batman and Beetlejuice, liked the skies in Tampa Bay and found the residential look he wanted in the cookie-cutter houses along Tinsmith Circle at the Carpenters Run development on State Road 54.

Carpenters Run has become the center of filming for Edward Scissorhands, a romance starring Johnny Depp of television's "21 Jump Street" and the movie Cry-Baby, along with Winona Ryder and Dianne Wiest.

Depp plays the title character, a man with shears of metal for fingers, who excels in topiary, the trimming of trees and shrubs into ornamental shapes.

Converting Carpenters Run into the proper setting for this suburban fantasy already has sent a burst of cash into the local economy. Workers have been hired to repaint about 40 houses red, yellow, blue and green and make minor structural changes, and residents have received an undisclosed amount for putting up with the inconvenience of the filming.

"The local Salvation Army is probably pretty happy with us," Sedrish said. "We've bought so many props from the local Salvation Army. It just happens to be that kind of film, looking for that period look."

More construction workers have been hired to build the facade of an eerie mansion on Platt Road, overlooking Dade City, while another group is working at a warehouse on U.S. 41, building giant topiary structures ranging from a brontosaurus to a man bowling.

Sedrish estimates that 100 people have been hired to work on the film, including construction crews, people involved in filming, drivers and others.

While most of the labor is from unions in Tampa and Orlando, workers' supplies often are bought locally. Construction supply houses are seeing some extra business, as are local nurseries that have provided the plants that will help create a transformation at Carpenters Run first to overgrown and dead plants and then to the fantastic topiary shapes.

Danny Ondrejko, greens foreman for the movie, has dozens of business cards tacked to the bulletin board of his rented office in Land O'Lakes. And because of the movie's story he has been combing local nurseries not only for healthy plants, but for things such as overgrown shrubs and dead grapefruit trees.

While Ondrejko's purchases may not have been overwhelming for any single nursery, they have given several a little extra business, and the plants he bought at Tree of Life nursery on County Line Road in Lutz probably would have been pretty difficult to sell to anyone else.

"Some of the stuff that we thought was unsalable, they bought," said Tree of Life office manager Pam Daniel. "I think the funniest thing was when they came in looking for a dead tree to put a tree house in."

Landscaping needs have been spread across many nurseries, but in other areas Edward Scissorhands has had significant impact on individual businesses. The best example may be Saddlebrook Golf and Tennis Resort, which has become the operating center for the movie, housing the production offices, as well as many of the roughly 100 actors and workers staying in Pasco during the filming.

The film's producers have booked 80 rooms for three months, according to Dick Boehning, executive vice president and general manager at Saddlebrook. While filming began during Saddlebrook's heavy season, Boehning is particularly pleased because the group is staying on into spring, when reservations begin to drop.

For his part, Boehning has helped arrange for the office accommodations and allowed the producers to set up a trailer on the grounds. In return, the movie has brought a little excitement to the resort.

"Our guests are looking for the stars around the pool, and once in a while they see them," Boehning said. "We don't publicize it, but word gets around, and that's kind of exciting for the guests."

 
 

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