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Omaha Magazine

Living the Set-Jetter Life

Apr 13, 2020 03:15PM ● By Sean Robinson

Robert Patterson is eating a stack of buttery, fluffy pancakes in Kingsland, Texas. He cuts into the plate-sized heaping portion, thinking of the teenagers who were cut by a chainsaw-wielding Leatherface in the same spot he’s now sitting. 

Nothing says breakfast like bloodshed. Bon appetit.

He’s one of many diners at the Grand Central Cafe—a Queen Anne-style farmhouse that acted as the set for 1974's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. This isn’t the first Hollywood house of horrors—or cafe of horrors—he’s visited. Patterson is a pro when it comes to finding filming locations, visiting up to 200 sites per year. 

“When you first see these places, you have a surreal moment,” Patterson said. “It gets very quiet in your mind. It’s like you’re in some other dimension stepping into the movie.”

His time spent hunting horror holy ground is the night to his day job at Kids Can! Community Center, an Omaha child care provider that educates, engages, and inspires youth through out-of-school experiences. He’s been with the organization 21 years and served as its CEO since 2010. 

Whether Patterson is balancing his time between staff and board meetings, or racing from the site of Michael Myers’ latest killing to the block Freddy Krueger once terrorized, every minute counts. Every moment matters. 

And he does get things done. 

Since first seeing Jamie Lee Curtis’ Halloween home on New Year’s Day in 2002, Patterson's passion has been visiting filming locations. Because some locations have been used more than once, he's visited sites of almost 300 movies, television shows, and music videos—stopping at more than 15 separate filming locations for some. From Sixth Sense to Sixteen Candles (yes, he ventures beyond horror), he’s conquered it all. 

So how does he get it all done? Twelve-hour days motoring around Los Angeles are the norm. Miami, New York, Toronto, and Chicago have all played host to Patterson’s hunt. If someone happens to actually name a movie he hasn’t tracked, chances are he’ll take it as a challenge and add it to his list.

“He’s very passionate about the things he loves,” said Sean Clark, a friend of Patterson who started visiting sets himself in 1994. “He’s very passionate about films, horror, and Madonna. Lots of Madonna.”

Finding where movie—or Madonna music video—magic is made is half the fun. Big blockbusters have been located, but he can’t rely on Google for smaller productions. 

After so much time in Los Angeles, he can identify where in the city something is filmed by the look of the houses on screen or based off where downtown is in the background. If he’s lucky, home addresses sneak into shots. If he’s unlucky, he has to use things such as street signage or obscure landmarks for help. 

“I have to go down the internet rabbit hole of sleuthing a lot,” Patterson said. 

His travels are all documented on his new website. Previously, he had a blog (Movie Locations and More) that attracted more than 1 million views. 

Even Hollywood took notice. Producers began contacting him to create videos of his travels to include as an extra on DVD releases of films such as Silent Night, Deadly Night and The Incredible Shrinking Woman.

“I don’t do it to make a career out of it. I’ve got a good one already,” Patterson said. “The older I get, the more I realize we are put on Earth to make others and yourself happy. This is a way for me and fans to relive the excitement of a movie.”

Visit set-jetter.com to view Patterson’s travels.

This article was printed in the April/May 2020 issue of B2B Magazine.