My Walk Through Of The San Francisco Sets In “The Room” Inspired By “The Disaster Artist” CULTURE: "THE DISASTER ARTIST"
SAN FRANCISCO, CA- There’s many beautiful things about the city of San Francisco, although much of my time living here has been spent resenting the tech-takeover and mourning the loss of the city’s quirkiness and charm. However, there are moments like I had last week, that prove San Francisco still has some weird left in it.
In preparation for seeing the new movie, The Disaster Artist, I spent the evening before the premiere, visiting a few of the sights that were featured in the most infamously terrible movie, The Room. If you haven’t seen The Room before, I won’t explain it, but maybe stop reading this and go watch the movie. You will enjoy this, The Disaster Artist, and life in general, so much more.
Although The Room takes place in San Francisco, most of the actual film was shot with a green screen on a soundstage in Los Angeles. However, there are actual scenes that were shot in San Francisco, and being lucky enough to live there, I took a mini trip around the city documenting and experiencing those locations.
FIRST STOP: COFFEE SHOP
Who doesn’t have a normal conversation in a little cafe with a good buddy, and casually blurt out, “anyway, how is your sex life?”, with no context, nor provocation? Oh wait, I’m sorry, you must not be our good friend Johnny from The Room. Many of you will remember this scene all too well, and crazy enough, the cafe is actually a pizza place called, “Pizza Zone” (brilliant). This is probably the number one location that people go to see semblance of The Room, because Tommy Wiseau actually owns the building, or at least he did at one point. It’s not hard to tell, because right outside Pizza Zone is a giant The Room movie sign, along with an enormous pair of blue jeans (sign), that ironically enough also are Tommy Wiseau’s doing. You see, Mr. Wiseau is actually a fashion designer as well, a true Renaissance man. Inside the pizza shop, not much has changed. The tables are still there, and you can actually sit in the same spots that Johnny and Mark did, and have the most awkward conversation of your life if you wish. Take a better look around the place, okay not that hard, because quite easily you’ll spot along the wall random underwear mannequins. Which, I don’t know about the pizza places you go to, but this is kind of a rare sighting. Upon closer look, all of the underwear on these mannequins have Tommy Wiseau’s name on the waist band. Much fashion. I decided to ask the owner of Pizza Zone about The Room, to which he pulls out from beneath the counter a copy of the dvd. Clearly, this isn’t the first time he’s encountered die-hard fans. He tells my friend and I that his shop has been there for 15 years and recently, he’s had quite an influx of people coming in to ask about The Room and to take pictures of the place. I explain that a new film called, The Disaster Artist is being released soon, detailing the making of The Room, so it made sense that he had more visitors inquiring about it. The shop owner then pulls out his phone and showed us a photo of a young man sitting at one of the tables wearing sunglasses, a long black wig, with a cup a coffee, pulling off his best Tommy impression. We all started laughing. If the night had ended there, it would have been a total success. Side note: the pizza there is cheap and pretty decent, and the owner is so nice, that honestly whenever I’m in the Wharf, I will probably always stop there to get a bite to eat and get my TW undie fix.
SECOND STOP: JOHNNY & LISA’S APARTMENT
To clarify, this isn’t exactly their apartment. I mean it is, if you consider that this is strictly just the exterior of their building. The actual apartment interior scenes were all shot in Los Angeles, so not at all related to this building located in the Marina of San Francisco.
If you do some investigating on the internet, you can find the address and location of the building, however since people actually live there, I’m not going to exactly release that information myself. Let’s just say, if you seek it, you can find it. Since it’s getting close to Christmas time, this building was decorated with some lights, and compared to the rest of the houses, it seemed to be beaming with a vibrancy that was unique to the rest of the neighborhood. Almost like it was lit up similar to those scenes in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
This was our Holy Grail amongst terrible movies, for sure.
THIRD STOP: LYONS STREET STEPS
During The Room, Johnny and Mark have a nice little work out scene, detailing them in different parts of San Francisco while jogging and occasionally throwing around a football. One of the scenes is them running up some stairs, smiling and having a grand ol’ time. Well, in reality those steps do exist, and they are very much intended for workouts, at least I think. I say this because the steps span about 2 blocks, and ascend one of those infamous San Francisco hills. Basically, it’s pretty damn steep, and if you walk (kind of run) the full length, you will surely be out of breath. See video for proof. I swear I’m not that out of shape, they really are pretty grueling.
FOURTH STOP: FLOWER SHOP
One of the best movie lines of all time was delivered in what is now, Sofia Cafe. Admit it, if you’ve seen The Room, the chances are probably very likely that whenever you’ve encountered a dog after that, your immediate reaction is to say out loud, “Oh hai, doggy!”. It’s just necessary.
The exterior of the building remains very much the same, but obviously since the cafe is not a flower shop, barely anything on the inside resembles what it did in the movie. Since it was a bit late at night, I wasn’t actually able to go into the cafe, so instead I was that weirdo who stood in front of it and pressed my face against the glass window to see what the interior looked like. On my made up, The Room tour, normalcy is not encouraged nor expected.
FIFTH STOP: THE “HOSPITAL” ON GUERRERO STREET
If you really want to get into the mind of Tommy Wiseau, look no further than this beautiful dialogue from one of the green screen, roof top scenes.
I don’t know about you, but I bet you wouldn’t guess that this somewhat intense dialogue would end in laughter. No one would, but for whatever reason, Tommy Wiseau felt it completely necessary to laugh. Maybe that’s what crazy Americans do? He would know.
The best part of this whole strange story is that there is no hospital on Guerrero Street at all. What if Johnny’s character knew this? What if that’s the reason he laughs, because Mark is stupid enough to even say that a hospital exists where there is no hospital?! The possibilities with The Room are always, ALWAYS, endless.
The following evening was the big day, the premiere of The Disaster Artist, and outrageous preparation and celebration needed to be had, The Room tour was simply not enough. My friend and I had a little bit of time to kill before seeing The Disaster Artist at Alamo Drafthouse – New Mission, so we spent some time at a bar around the area taking down libations to honor what we were about to see.
If you’re familiar with The Room lore, then you’ve probably heard of the cocktail, “Scotchka”. It brings together two types of alcohol that should probably never be brought together; scotch and vodka. There is a scene during The Room where Lisa walks out with two glasses filled with what most people assume to be scotch. She then sits down with Johnny and proceeds to pour vodka into the same glass. Note that the vodka is the only confirmed liquid in the glass. Johnny (and Tommy in real life) made it very well known that he does not drink alcohol, but Lisa uses her witching ways to persuade him to partake in this travesty of a cocktail.
I would like to point out that I think the internet is incredibly wrong with this theory of the “Scotchka”, because as absurd as The Room is, that drink would never be made or seem normal. Tommy Wiseau is a huge fan of Red Bull, so it makes so much more sense that it’s Red Bull and vodka, but I guess, what’s the fun in that, right? It’s basically a disaster in a glass, so it seemed very much appropriate to recreate that drink before heading to see The Disaster Artist.
After downing my Scotchka, it was movie time! This was the first screening of the night, and the theater was completely sold out with rambunctious The Room fans eager with excitement. During the entire movie, the whole audience was applauding a good majority of the scenes that tied into The Room, which made it that much more fun of an experience.
I do have to say that seeing The Room before seeing The Disaster Artist is pretty crucial. You’re not going to understand how great of a job James Franco does, unless you completely understand the insanity and weirdness that is Tommy Wiseau and his baby, The Room. After the movie was over, the crowd and myself were completely satisfied and very eager to discuss what we all had seen.
As I stepped out into the theater lobby, I decided to treat myself to an enamel pin of The Room with Tommy Wiseau’s face. The vendor who was selling the pins started talking to another movie goer and asked how they had liked the movie. My friend overheard him saying that James Franco would possibly be showing up to the second screening, and as we started walking away, my friend tugs the sleeve of my arm, pulling me towards the ticket kiosk.
As our luck had it, there were only two seats left at the 10:30 screening of The Disaster Artist. We’d be stupid not to. Also, the movie was that great, that we had no problem justifying seeing it twice in one night. We grabbed a quick drink, discussed how hilarious the movie was, and then discussed how much sense it made that someone from the movie would actually show up, being that The Room technically was supposed to take place in San Francisco.
Before we knew it, we were already back at Alamo Drafthouse about to partake in our second round of The Disaster Artist. Because we got the last two tickets in the theater, we ended up at a table in the second row, pretty close to the stage. Each table was now adorned with a “Tommy’s World” pen that is featured in the movie. A little souvenir to take away, but odd that they didn’t have them in the earlier screening.
We were pretty sure that someone special was in the crowd this time around. One of the employees of Alamo Drafthouse came out on stage to talk about how exciting The Disaster Artist was and how big of a fan he was of The Room. He then started to ask out loud if anyone there was a true die-hard fan of The Room as he kept looking out into the audience as if he were about to pull the biggest fan onto the stage.
A few moments later, someone did start to approach the stage, but instead of an audience member, it was James and Dave Franco. The entire crowd was in shock. The Franco boys looked just as happy as everyone else in the audience. It was also nice to learn that they’re from Palo Alto, so it made sense that they surprised everyone at the screening that evening. They thanked everyone for attending and supporting this passion project of theirs, and with that, I concluded my night with watching The Disaster Artist a second time and still absolutely loving it.
I think the best part about this movie and The Room, is the amount of fun you can have with it. It’s silly, ridiculous, and nonsensical, just like Tommy Wiseau. Creating such theatrics walking around San Francisco gave me an appreciation for the city and Mr. Wiseau so much more. All the reviews, awards, and nominations that are coming The Disaster Artist’s way are completely deserved. I hope all of this can bring a smile to everyone seeking this movie out. It’s a small beacon of happiness and laughter, that is becoming harder and harder to find these days.