I watched the movie “Argo,” which won three Oscars for the best picture, film editing, and adapted screenplay this year. If you’ve seen the movie (and no, I don’t think this part needs a spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen the film yet) you may remember the scene where Tony Mendez, played by Ben Affleck, got the idea to “make” a science fiction movie as a cover to get into and out of Iran with the six Americans hiding out at the Canadian ambassador’s house in 1980.
Late one night, after I’d watched “Argo,” I began to wonder how a screenwriter might incorporate HVAC as a major or minor part of a fake or real movie (that’s the late-night feverish notion of an editor who works for an HVACR trade publication speaking …). While there’s unlikely to be a fake film made involving HVAC as part of the story, let alone one “produced” for reasons similar to those of “Argo,” there have been real movies involving HVAC. These generally involve people crawling through sheet metal ductwork to get into or, more often, out of a building or to go from one part of a building to another, hoping to do so without being detected.
But besides escaping via a commercial building’s ductwork (that would have to be some strong, well insulated, unobstructed, and clean ductwork for it to work out as smoothly as in the movies), how else, I mused, might HVAC be worked into a movie?
These are a few ideas that crossed my mind (they may not be plausible or scientifically possible, but that doesn’t often stop Hollywood screenwriters from letting reality get in the way of their story):
• A romantic comedy where the HVAC tech, a veteran, meets the leading lady while both are helping their elderly neighbor find her cat. Various shots of the tech dealing with units in crawlspaces, tiny closets, attics, etc. can be woven into the movie.
• A small-budget historical feature that focuses on Ben Franklin’s life before his role as a founding father, including his invention of the Franklin stove.
• A “Star Wars” rip-off science fiction movie where, instead of someone shooting a proton torpedo into one of the Death Star’s reactor vent shafts, someone shoots a proton torpedo or some other missile through ductwork, piping, or tubing, to blow up the mechanical room or equivalent and the explosion spreads throughout the ship, building, or whatever through that same ductwork.
• A “Star Trek” movie where the Enterprise (exact cast yet to be determined) lands on a planet where inhabitants live and walk around in individual bubbles. The bubbles require extremely precise climate controls, because the aliens have been cocooned “indoors” for so many generations, they are no longer able to handle a slight fluctuation on temperature, humidity, etc.
With the possible exception of the Ben Franklin biography, the rest are my HVAC movie flights of fancy. How would you cast HVAC in a movie? I’d love to hear your ideas.