The House From... Director Tommy Avallone Talks Visiting Famous Houses From Movies And TV [Exclusive Interview]

Have you ever wanted to visit the "Silver Tuna" house from "Home Alone" when the holidays roll around? What about stalking the house of babysitter Laurie Strode from the "Halloween" franchise? Maybe you've felt bold enough to check out the house of Buffalo Bill from "The Silence of the Lambs." Soon, you'll be able to check out some of the most memorable houses from film and television, thanks to a new documentary from "I Love You, You Hate Me" director Tommy Avallone.

"The House From..." is an upcoming documentary that's looking to complete post-production by way of a Kickstarter. If you've ever wanted your name in the credits of a movie as a producer, here's your chance. Tommy Avallone recently sat down to chat with us about traveling across the country to see houses from movies like "The Goonies," "The Twilight Saga," "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," "Home Alone," "Full House," and many more. Plus, he reveals some surprising facts about the house from "Can't Hardly Wait," which you've also seen in a bunch of other movies and TV shows.

'What is it like to live in a famous house?'

This is a really fun idea. How long has this been percolating for you? What was the inception for this film?

I can't talk about the inception without completely name-dropping, so bear with me. I've always had this idea. I live in New Jersey now, but I was living in Los Angeles [at the time], and when I worked in Philadelphia, I would walk by the Liberty Bell and Ben Franklin's grave. I couldn't care less about the history there. But when I moved to California, I'm like, "I live near 'The Wonder Years' house?" That was so much fun. And I always thought, "What is it like to live in a famous house?" 

So the only Hollywood party I think I ever went to, I was with John Stamos. John and me were introduced prior. We were just talking, and he's like, "Jeff Franklin's here. You want me to introduce you to him?" I was like, "Yes, please." He created "Full House," and I knew at the time he owned the "Full House" house. So I was like, "I want to do this documentary about people who live in famous houses. You own the 'Full House' house. What do you think?" We had lunch at his house that he lives in, which is oddly enough, the [site of the Charles] Manson murder house. He knocked that down and built his own mansion. It's crazy driving up Cielo Drive. It was at the time when "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood..." just came out. So it was really weird, but he thought it was a cool idea.

Anyway, he's like, "Meet me in San Francisco." We filmed him giving the tour, talking about "Full House," seeing what the house really looks like, because it's completely different. Just the way that hallway was upstairs, where there was Jesse's room on one side and Stephanie's room on the other, that wouldn't work. It would just be hanging up. It's just not the way it's built. So it was super cool. We took that tape, and we tried to pitch it as a TV show. Every week we'd go to a different house or two, talk to fans, talk to people who made it famous, talk to people who lived there. And everyone's like, "No, thank you. Where's the stakes? Where's the drama?"

That blows my mind. I don't even know why you need stakes or drama in a show like that. It's basically just a cool movie version of "Cribs," especially if you can get the people who are in these movies to visit. Like, in the Kickstarter video (above), you have Ethan Embry relive that moment from "Can't Hardly Wait." If you can do that with other actors, that would be so much fun.

Oh my God, let me tell you, having Ethan go to the "Can't Hardly Wait" house and say, "Amanda..." The best thing that's ever happened in my whole entire life. But no, that was the thing, I guess the streamers, they want something that's crazy toned ... and it's not a crazy idea. It's just a fun watch.

Yeah, exactly.

No one's died in any of these houses. There's no true crime in any of these houses. There's not like, the "Wonder Years" house isn't fighting with the "Boy Meets World" house. That's not happening. So we're like, "Forget it. Let's just do it ourselves."

We start filming all these different houses, and then I sold the "Barney" project, and I had to stop just to focus on that. Once that was wrapped, I went right back into it, and we're like, "You know what? We should just release this ourselves. We know what we're doing with this. Why go to a distribution company that's not going to give you any money and not do any [publicity]?" So it just didn't make sense. I've had movies put out by distribution people, and I've seen the progress drop with each movie, not with anything to do with us, but just the way distribution people were handling independent filmmakers. So we're like, "Yeah, we can do [it] ourselves." 

'I think people are going to love Ethan Embry coming back to the 'Can't Hardly Wait' house'

So how long have you been shooting?

Well, I would've been at "Full House" in 2019. Then we didn't do anything for a while, because we were pitching in a pandemic, and then we picked up, I want to say later in 2020. We filmed the "Halloween" house, "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," all that sort of stuff.

Speaking of the pandemic, did that make it easier or harder to get the subjects involved for the document? Because I could see it going either way.

We were nervous. The vaccines weren't even a thing at the time we were filming. So we understood if people didn't want us to come into their house. Some people wanted to wait until things were better, and sometimes we did. But some of the houses, "Pee-wee" or the Strode house from "Halloween," we did film outside. Some people were totally cool with it and we all wore a mask, except for the subjects. I would write letters to some of these people, because these houses, yes, they're famous, but they don't have a [public relations] manager or agent. So I have this one system where I can find people's information, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But sometimes I just wrote letters.

The "Can't Hardly Wait" house, I wrote [the owner] a letter, and she got back to me and we filmed it. But it's funny, because to me it was the "Can't Hardly Wait" house, but to her, it was the inside of "American Pie." That house has been in so many different movies and TV shows. Yes, it's the outside of "Can't Hardly Wait," but it's the inside of "American Pie." For "American Pie 2," she showed me where Stifler got peed on. The kitchen was in "Cheaper by the Dozen." "This Is Us" filmed there. Tim Allen filmed there. Lindsay Lohan did a thing. "Ghost Whisperer," "NCIS," "Criminal Minds," "It's Always Sunny [in Philadelphia"] was there. You saw the outside from "Always Sunny." So many things. The owner, Liz, walks us through and shows us where all these different shows filmed. It's really, really cool.

So how many houses do you have in the film?

Well, we're wrapping up now, and I feel like there's a good 20 houses right now. We'll probably get a couple more. We were just filming in Albuquerque and Tulsa, and I'm going to go back to Chicago soon. So we're more or less wrapping up. I'd say right now it's about 20 houses.

What's the segment from the film you feel like that people are going to respond to the most?

I don't know. It depends on where you're coming from. Sometimes it's just cool to see the inside of the "Full House" house. Sometimes it's just cool to see what the inside of this house really looks like. Sometimes it's cool to hear some of the stories. To me, personally, I think people are going to love Ethan Embry coming back to the "Can't Hardly Wait" house, and just reliving some of the scenes and talking about that movie.

'Yeah, to so many people, it's Pee-wee. But I grew up here'

This feels like something that lends itself to several movies with even more houses getting the spotlight. Is that something that you would like to do?

If we did a series, that would totally make sense, and it could be repeatable, there's a way we could branch it off. Who knows? If this goes well, you could do that. I'm not holding onto hope for that sort of thing. But with this documentary, just focusing on the movies that we have or the shows we have, we can talk about a couple different things, like this idea of worship. Instead of worshiping the cross, you're worshiping the "Family Matters" house or the "Friday" house or the "Full House" house. It's this idea of an image that makes you feel good. We were at site of the "Mrs. Doubtfire" house and I talked to this one guy, and he's like, "I'm a child of divorce. This movie really spoke to me." So it's weird how we connect these things and remind us of that sort of safe feeling.

Then there's also the ownership. Here is a house, to millions of people, it's the "Full House" house, but to one family it's home. There's this really interesting sort of shared ownership. I think it's in our Kickstarter video, where the owner of the Pee-wee Herman house, he's like, "Yeah, to so many people, it's Pee-wee. But I grew up here." What's it like to share? Remember all the water and all those things in the front lawn? It's like, "No, I remember Thanksgiving, I remember Christmas. I remember waking up here every day."

Were there any people who didn't really want to talk about the house or maybe just didn't want the house to be highlighted any more than it already is, because they get so many people and it's turned into a nuisance for them? I know there's that woman who was upset about the "Breaking Bad" house having pizzas thrown on the roof.

We have images of what it looks like inside "The Goonies" house. Currently, she doesn't want to speak to us. She's an awesome lady, but she doesn't want to do any interviews, because it's really interesting how the press has changed things with her. Well, I shouldn't say the press, but online culture has really turned it into a mythical thing, where the Internet's like, "Did you see the 'Goonies' person put a tarp over their house, so that no one could see the house?" And it's like, "No, she was just getting a roof done, and that's what you do. You put a tarp over your house." Or there was an article recently, it's like, "'The Goonies' house is back open." I spoke to her and she's like, "It's not back open. It was never closed. It's not a store."

So it's really crazy how people take these sort of things. And the "Breaking Bad" people, from Walter White's house, they didn't talk to us, but enough archival footages exists from different news stories. But we did talk to the old owner of Jesse's mansion, and she spoke about just filming there. It's funny, I just started watching "Breaking Bad," so please don't tell me any spoilers ... she was saying she wanted to sell her house towards the end of season 1. And [creator] Vince Gilligan had to change that in a script, because they weren't confident that the new owners would let them film at that house. So the reason Jesse gets kicked out and gets an apartment is because this woman wanted to sell her house.

That's crazy.


Were there any houses that you wanted to feature in the movie that you just couldn't make work for one reason or another?

I wanted to get inside that "Boy Meets World" house. They never got back to me. Not even a "No." As weird as that sounds, that and "Wonder Years" – something about the Savages. But yeah, we are not finished yet. So there's always hope. That's definitely the house I would love to have done.

'We're going to have a limited time DVD'

Once I heard this idea, it just sounded cool, because I'm kind of similar to you, too. Whenever I spend some time in Los Angeles, I try to do as many things as I can. The last time I was there, I realized that there were some movie houses from stuff that I love that were really close together. So I did a quick run through of going to Michael Myers' "Halloween" house, Doc's house from "Back to the Future," and then the "Father of the Bride" house.

So much is in South Pasadena. In fact, there's a street in South Pasadena named Bushnell Street. The way it's set up, it's like it's Biff's house from "Back to the Future." And if you remember, in "Back to the Future Part II," when Biff kicks the ball on the roof, that's Luke Wilson's house from "Old School."

Oh wow. As soon as you said that, I pictured the frat house and I can immediately envision that as Biff's neighbor's house.

Then, right next door, is Lorraine's house from "Back to the Future," and it's also the same house as Michael J. Fox's house from "Teen Wolf."

Wow, that's crazy.

Then further down the street is George McFly's house from "Back to the Future." Even further down the street is the house from "Ghost Dad," and across the street, if you remember the show "Thirtysomething," that was on the same block. All these houses in one block, one small block in South Pasadena. It's crazy.

That's awesome. So the plan is to release the movie at a festival. Do you know a specific festival where it's going to premiere yet? Or are you still trying to figure that out?

Right now, we're working towards this one festival, but it's all about if I could finish it in time. Doing the Kickstarter and promoting Barney, it's just a lot of work. So it all depends on that sort of stuff. But once we premiere at a festival, we'll release the next day. It'll be on iTunes Vudu, Amazon Prime, and Google Play. We're just going to release it ourselves. Then also with the Kickstarter, we're going to have a limited time DVD. The only place to get this DVD is on our Kickstarter.

I think we covered all the good stuff, and I'm excited to see this movie. I can't wait to check it out.

Thanks, man.

Stay tuned to the Kickstarter page for "The House From..." for more updates, and throw some support behind them if you have the means!