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Waiting for Guffman (1997) Filming Locations
The 1984 film This Is Spinal Tap, created by Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Rob Reiner, has become one of the most well-known, and beloved, of the comedies done "in a documentary style." (Christopher Guest is known to hate the term "mockumentary.")
In Waiting for Guffman, released in 1997, Christopher Guest does for community theater what Spinal Tap had done for heavy metal bands. With largely improvised dialogue, Guffman, presents a subtly comedic view of local actors eager to present a small-town theatrical production celebrating their city's 150th anniversary. While they don't appear in the film, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer worked on the musical numbers used in the film.
Waiting for Guffman is set in fictional Blaine, Missouri, but much of the filming took place in Lockhart, Texas. According to the Waiting for Guffman website, which was still online through 2012, the cast had 5 days of rehearsal and 29 days of filming in Lockhart, which has been officially designated as the Barbecue Capitol of Texas.
Waiting for Guffman opens with an overhead establishing shot of grain silos, which immediately gives the viewer a hint of the small-town, even rural, nature of the community to be featured in the film.
The silos seen are located across the street from K-C Grain, 805 N Pecos St, Lockhart, TX 78644.
I had already visited several of the other locations seen in the movie, but I learned about the silo location from the excellent Slackerwood site, which discussed the film industry in the Austin area. The site no longer produces new content, but they have fortunately kept their archives online, including a visit to Guffman locations.
The Title Theater
The Waiting for Guffman title is shown superimposed over a movie theater, as two kids on inline skates speed past the building. The marquee shows Like Water for Chocolate and Time Cop (sic) as the films playing at the time, with a poster for Dolores Claiborne in the "Coming Soon" frame.
The real-world location is the Gaslight Baker Theatre, 216 South Main Street, Lockhart, TX 78644, which I think I figured out as I was walking around the Lockhart downtown area.
According to the Gaslight Baker Theatre site, the cinema quit showing movies in 1984, and reopened in 1998 as a live community theater venue. This presumably means that the theater marquee in the movie was set up by the Guffman crew, which must have been a joke about how drastically different the two marquee titles are.
City of Blaine, Missouri
After a brief shot of a pedestrian walking on a downtown street, an overhead shot reveals the town square with an ornate government building, which is revealed in the next scene to be the city hall of Blaine, Missouri.
The "city hall" in the movie is actually the Caldwell County Courthouse, 110 S. Main Street, Lockhart, TX 78644. This photogenic town square has also been seen in such movies as A Small Town in Texas, What's Eating Gilbert Grape and Where the Heart Is.
Two brief shots show the Blaine Museum before cutting to interior shots of local historian “Phil Burgess” (Don Lake) expounding on the colorful history of Blaine.
Exclusive: The Blaine Museum exterior is located at 215 W San Antonio St, Lockhart, TX 78644 and it appears to be a private home or apartment building.
I determined this location while researching a different movie, and I haven't seen this location listed anywhere else on the Internet.
If Waiting for Guffman has an iconic location, it would have to be the steps to the apartment where the movie’s main character lives. Christopher Guest’s “Corky St. Clair” is the dramatic heart of the story and several scenes take place near his apartment.
The address of Corky's apartment is 101 S Main St, Lockhart, TX 78644, but the iconic stairs are on the side of the building, along West San Antonio Street.
Interior scenes seem to have also been filmed here. In the scene of Corky dancing in his apartment, you can see the courthouse through his windows.
Magic Carpet Travel Agency
At the Magic Carpet Travel Agency, we’re introduced to “Ron & Sheila Albertson” (the wonderful Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara), small-business owners and local theater stalwarts, who are eager to participate in the next Corky St. Clair production.
Exclusive: The travel agency exterior is at 110 E Market St, Lockhart, TX 78644, currently the real estate office of Harrison Partners Realty LLP.
I determined this location easily, by looking around the Lockhart town square, but I haven't seen it listed anywhere else on the Internet.
The Dairy Queen
At the local Dairy Queen, we’re introduced to “Libby Mae Brown” (Parker Posey), a young lady describing working at the DQ with an air of sadness.
The Dairy Queen location is 300 S Main Street, Lockhart, TX 78644. The location is no longer a DQ, but it appears to have been a few restaurants since, and someone had the good sense to move an awning over the drive-through window seen in the film.
At the town’s new Dairy Queen, 1125 S Colorado, Lockhart, TX 78644, you can see a photograph of the Waiting for Guffman DQ from the 1950s.
UFO Landing Site
In addition to stools, Blaine residents celebrate a UFO landing in the town in 1946. A local “UFO Expert” (David Cross) explains some of the mysteries of the landing site in a local field.
Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out where this scene was filmed. It has a Texas feel, but Cross doesn’t have any interaction with anyone else in the final cut of the movie, so it’s possible that this scene was filmed in California. If you know, please contact me.
Pearl & Son Dentist
An establishing shot shows the “Pearl & Son Dentist” office where Eugene Levy's character, “Dr. Allan Pearl” practices dentistry.
The building houses a real dental office, the Lockhart Smile Center, 308 S Main St, Lockhart, TX 78644. It is also right next door to the Dairy Queen where Libby Mae works.
A brief establishing shot shows a high school where auditions are to take place for the Blaine sesquicentennial show.
The school building seen on-screen is the John Burroughs Middle School, 600 S. Mc Cadden Place, Los Angeles, CA 90005.
Reference: I found this location via the IMDb message board thread, "Film location questions."
A "UFO Abductee" (Paul Dooley) stands in front of a local shop as he discusses his encounter with the aliens who landed in Blaine.
Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out where this scene was filmed.
I was contacted by Javier Chacin, who referred me to the I Was There Too podcast, which featured a terrific episode with Paul Dooley. In the podcast, Dooley says that he went to Texas for one day to film his scene, so I’m guessing that it was also filmed in Lockhart. If you know, please contact me.
High School Gymnasium (Exterior)
An establishing shot of a local gymnasium shows the location where the rehearsals for the production are conducted
Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out where this scene was filmed. It’s possible that this scene was filmed in California, like the high school exterior. If you know, please contact me.
High School Gymnasium (Interior)
Many of the rehearsals for the big “Red, White and Blaine” show are conducted in the local gymnasium where the show is ultimately held.
The scenes were filmed inside the Doris Miller Auditorium, 2300 Rosewood Ave, Austin, TX 78702.
Reference: The film's credits thank the "Doris Miller Recreational Center." [Doris Miller was a sailor who was born in Waco, and earned the Navy Cross for his heroism at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Sadly, Miller died at sea on November 24, 1943.]
Savage Auto Repair
Corky pays a visit to Savage Auto Repair, to recruit strapping, young Johnny Savage (Matt Keeslar) into the show.
Exclusive: The auto yard is located at 218 N Main St, Lockhart, TX 78644, and is now the Performance Wrecker Service, but the site is along Pecan Street.
Reference: I determined the location based on the phone number 398-3523, seen on-screen. Internet searches revealed that the phone number belonged to Farmer's Body Shop at this address.
Ron and Sheila's House (Exterior)
Ron and Sheila Albertson's home is shown in an establishing shot.
The home is located at 1017 Bois D'Arc St, Lockhart, TX 78644, but has been extensively remodeled, and is now an assisted living facility.
Reference: The Slackerwood visit to Guffman filming locations indicated that this might be the Pearl home, but I determined it's actually Ron and Sheila's. The group of four windows along the front is the key feature in identifying the location.
I was lucky to see Parker Posey at a special screening of Waiting for Guffman, and she's still justifiably proud of her work on the film. She even discussed the tremendous Libby Mae audition scene that was deleted from the finished film, and I was delighted to learn that she loves the scene as much as I do.