Production of The Sound of Music
Location scouting in Salzburg began in 1963 and filming on location started in early spring of 1964. Robert Wise had planned to spend six weeks shooting on location as the flights and the housing for over 250 crew members, technicians, camera men, stage hands, architects and actors were extremely expensive and there were even more technicians coming from Munich, Germany. The schedules were quite tight. The only thing that could not be planned was weather, and as Salzburg is famous for its rain, the six weeks turned out to be eleven.
During location scouting the settings had been chosen: Frohnburg Castle, a 17th century castle on the outskirts of the city, for the front courtyard. Today, the castle houses students of the Mozarteum Music Academy. Leopoldskron Castle was chosen for the setting on the lake with the garden and the terrace leading down to the water. This castle belongs to the Salzburg Seminar and is used for international seminars and conferences.
When the weather was bad the crew could shoot in covered sets. One was St. Margarethen Chapel (e.g. for the beginning scene when the nuns pray) and the other were studios in nearby Parsch.
The company was housed in four hotels: Wise and Andrews stayed at the Österreichischer Hof (today Hotel Sacher), the children at the Park Mirabell, Plummer and the nuns at the Bristol and the rest of the crew up at the Winkler. The production office was in the Dürer Studios, make-up and hairdressing at the Bristol. The working schedule was six days a week.
Do-Re-Mi, which was rehearsed in the Fox Studios beforehand was shot all over the city, sometimes leaving the bypassers wondering where all the loud music was coming from. One of the hard things for Julie Andrews in this scene was that she was not capable of play the guitar and singing at the same time. Once, when the producer got really angry, Andrews took a glass of firewaterpure Austrian Schnapps and everything went well!
The central spot for the actors´ offscreen scene turned out to be the bar at the Bristol. There were big crew parties almost every night. Plummer´s nights at the bar became famous, but the next morning he acted with as much professionalism as usual.
Julie Andrews felt slightly isolated as she had to take care of her 18-month daughter in the evenings and could not go out as often as she wanted.
The children behaved very well during their strenuous film work, but loved to play tricks on people in their free time. Sometimes, when their mothers were away, they threw things from the hotel windows on unsuspecting bypassers. One of their famous jokes was taking all the shoes on the second floorwhich had been put outside the hotelroom doors to be polishedand exchanging them with those from the third floor. That made quite a confusion the next morning! The hotel wanted them to leave after the shoe joke and it was Robert Wise who calmed them all down.
For the children, Salzburg was quite an adventure. During their free time, their teacher, Jean Seaman, showed them the sights and taught them German. The attraction they liked most were the trick water fountains at Hellbrunn Palace, where they laughed a lot getting wet from unexpected angles.
Kym Karath has some frightening memories of the shooting. During the canoe scene the children had to fall out of the boat. Karath could not swim. Julie Andrews was supposed to catch her, but what went well in the first take, went wrong in the second one: Julie went off the wrong side of the boat and Alan Callow had to jump in to save the little star.
During the shooting another problem arose: the children were growing, some more than the others. Charmian Carr, who played "Liesl" did not, so to keep up the continuity she had to stand on an apple box in the end. In her free time, she worked of a documentary of the filming of The Sound of Music which was used as a trailer in the theatres before the release of the film.
And, then there was the baby teeth problem!Debbie Turner lost some of her teeth during the shooting and they had to be replaced which caused her troubles with the singing. One day, Richard Haydn dropped his dentures into the toilet without having a second pair with him.
One of the first scenes that could be shot on location was the wedding scene at Mondsee. That was on April 23rd. Nearly all exterior scenes could be shot on location, although the rain kept returning. There were just a few that could not be shot on location and these were rebuilt in the studios: Sixteen going on Seventeen and Something Good. The interior of the gazebo was difficult to film as sunlight came in from different angles. And, for the other effects like rain and lightning it was less expensive to film in the studios.
One of the most complicated shootings was the familys appearance in the Rock Riding School. There were a thousand extras sitting in the audience in summer clothes, though it was just a bit above zero. The lighting of the arches turned out to be difficult. Lights and generators from all over Europe had to be ordered.
The opening scene that became one of the most famous in film history was filmed on a mountain about 10 kilometers into Bavaria. The scene was shot from a helicopter and had to be perfectly timed, so one of the crew members hid in the bushes with a megaphone and yelled Go, Julie when the helicopter was in the right position. Julie Andrews had great difficulty standing upright because of the jet helicopter´s strong downward drafts. After ten takes she got really angry! The filming up there was strenuous for the crew members. Apart from the weather playing tricks on them, there were no toilets for miles and sometimes it was just freezing.
When the filming was 25 days behind schedule, the studio started to make pressure because the budget was exploding.
On Friday, July 3rd, after having shot the last part of The hills are Alive Wise returned home with the crew and on July 6th, they started the indoor shooting in the studios. The movie was released on March 2nd, 1965 at the Rivoli Theatre in New York. All the movie theaters in America were sold out for weeks: sobbing could be heard every time Christopher Plummer stood on the stage of the Festival Hall to sing Edelweiss, 16 was a wonderful age to be; and, learning to sing was as easy as Do Re Mi. Salzburg suddenly became the city of The Sound of Music.