With the project finally green-lighted, filming commenced Monday, February 9, 1987.  A majority of the movie was filmed in and around Scottsdale, Arizona in Maricopa County, adjacent to Phoenix.  The area afforded the filmmakers a more scenic ambience than they could have obtained shooting in and around San Dimas (and undoubtedly Arizona was more affordable.)  A company called B&T Productions Limited was set up at the Apache Business Plaza in Tempe, Arizona (now abandoned) as a center for all of the production coordination.  Script revisions were distributed to the cast and crew by Patty Whitcher, Production Coordinator, from this office.  The revised production schedule had the shoot lasting from February 9, 1987 until the end of March, but it appears that principle filming in the area continued until early April.  The cast and crew stayed at local hotels . . . call sheets from the shoot indicate that select cast members stayed at the Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort and Inn while the rest of the cast stayed at the Holiday Inn.  While some the principal actors and crew were picked up in private cars and buses at their hotels, shuttles were arranged to leave from both locations on most days to deliver the other cast and crew members to the various locations in and around Scottsdale.

The first scenes to be filmed were the exterior school parking lot scenes and exterior school library scenes at Coronado High School, much of which ended up on the cutting room floor.  In an exclusive interview with this website, Will Robbins, who played the unforgettable Ox ("San Dimas High School Football Rules!") recalls how he became involved with the project.  "I was in school at ASU, doing the usual crazy college kid thing.  I am from Scottsdale so I didn't have to travel to far to go to school.   I wasn't paying to much attention to the books when I read for B&T.   A family friend called my sister to audition for one of the cheerleaders.   My mom had asked If I could drive my sister Laura to the audition, and while I was there one of the casting people told me I look like an "OX".   I wasn't sure what she had meant till I read for the part.   I ended up reading a few times for Steven Herek, and some 6 months later I was told I got the part.   My sister is still mad at me.   Oh, and I should say that the family friend is Gay Gilbert local casting agent in Arizona, one of the nicest people you will ever meet."

Ox went on to explain, "We had one scene at the start of the film where we confront Bill and Ted in the parking lot of school, and push them around and make fun of them, etc."  This is what was filmed on the first day of production.  While the production schedule gives us an idea what was planned to be filmed and when, changes were inevitable, as seen by the call sheets.  There are always delays when making a film, either caused by weather, uncontrollable circumstances or scenes which take longer than expected so subsequent scenes need to be pushed back to another day.  Everything considered, it appears the movie did not run an exceptionally long time over schedule.  The script was still a work in progress during filming, with changes taking place as they went along.  Most of the missing footage from this film was of scenes later redone in another way (i.e. Bill & Ted originally argued about what they needed for Wyld Stallyns on the school bus instead of Bill's garage, and the final report originally was filmed as taking place in a classroom and not in the auditorium.)  Revised script pages were provided to the cast and crew throughout the filming from the production office.  Earliest production schedules and even call sheets still referred to Captain Logan as Captain Williams!

Roy Forge Smith, who had previously worked with Monty Python on the Holy Grail film, was the production designer for the movie.  He was key in helping to create the authentic look of the time periods with a rather limited budget while maintaining the humor throughout.  He recalled the filming was tough because they were working long hours and trying to make it all happen with a limited budget.  Barry Nolan, the director of special visual effects for the film, explained their special effects budget was around $500,000.  He told Starlog Magazine in 1988, "There are a few tricky shots, but most of it isnít horribly difficult.  Weíre doing matching motion-control shots, to be matched later with film from the first unit, and weíve done some interesting things with the circuits of time.  Itís very dynamic Ė itís motion and speed that the audience can hopefully feel in the seat of their pants!  The circuits of time are transparent glass tubes, rather organic-looking Ė like an ocean of undulating worms.  The oceans above and below are constantly moving as we fly in the criss-crossing tubes.  The circuits of time themselves are being done digitally.  The phone booth comes out of the sky.  We have a 16-inch miniature with all of the characters in miniature.  Thereís a six-inch booth that will all be done motion-control.  We do a few close-ups of the booth landing Ė it just drops into frame with real tight shots.  All the other arrivals and departures will be done in miniature.  The Dome will feature several large matte paintings.  There will be a great deal of effects work entering the Dome Ė the transformation of the phone booth as it arrives, and its departure.  Part of the sequence will be done in miniature, which is being built back in L.A.  The rest will be live-action, with a combination of miniatures, very heavily augmented with FX animation."

Because of the limited budget, the crew sometimes had to make do with what they could to make magic happen . . . real old-fashioned smoke and mirrors filmmaking.  Jim Meyer, a member of the filmís swing gang, remembered working on the dome set, explaining that they spent hours and hours pasting up the little metallic-looking triangular pieces that made up the interior of the dome.  He also recalled gluing leaves to the bare branches of the bushes outside the police station, since there was no foliage on them at the time!  Many times an actual phone booth, or at least half of one, was hoisted on a crane and lowered to simulate the booth dropping from the sky, with the special effects added afterwards.  Many scenes were filmed at night, including overnight shoots for all the mall footage.  Obviously the Circle K scenes and those at Ted's house were also done at night, and the cast and crew were urged to keep the noise down on the set while filming in the residential neighborhoods in the early morning and evening hours.  Hot lunches and box lunches were also provided to the cast and crew during the shoots.

Will "Ox" Robbins was happy to report, "Alex and Keanu were terrific, I actually got them to go out to a few local college bars and even though the college crowd was not their 'scene' we had a good time anyway.  I also had just bought a new motorcycle that was close to the same model Keanu had at home, so he spent a bit of time riding around the lot, until production got wind and pulled him off the bike.  They were just like many of us at that age, having a good time, enjoying what was going on around them.  Nice people over all."  Will didn't get to work with George Carlin, but he explained, "I did get a chance to have a few drinks with him and the crew at the swanky Holiday Inn on Mill Avenue."  Even with long workdays, the cast and crew obviously still made time for some fun!  On one of the call sheets was written the note: "Crew Blues Note: Sat. Nite: Tonyís New York Lounge; Chuck Hall & The Brick Wall; 1 block west of Mill on Broadway; Be there or be square."  One very funny aspect of the call sheets was the "Quote of the Day," in which various quotes overheard from the cast and crew were recounted and shared with all.  Here are a few examples [parts in brackets are our annotations]:

Monday, February 9, 1987 - "Be Excellent to Each Other" - Rufus

Tuesday, February 24, 1987 - "I hate nature!" - Tim Suhrstedt [Cinematographer] noted D.P. / Environmentalist

Saturday, February 28, 1987 - "As soon as you sit . . . weíre outta here." - Bob Field [2nd electrician] in Mike Puzzutoís [Extra Grip] dream

Also: "How long is it going to take?" - Lady Driver & Lady 1st A.D.

Wednesday, March 4, 1987 - "Why do we never have enough spoons?" - Sigmund Freud

Monday, March 9, 1987 - "Production is the toilet paper of the set, but no one can "lay cable" without us." - Janet Elsasser [Production Assistant]

Tuesday, March 10, 1987 - "Fó the planes, weíll loop it." - Steve Herek after 31st crop duster of the morning

Thursday, March 12, 1987 - "Weíve already dropped quite a load here." - David Linck our cerebral publicist noting the money already spent by company in Phoenix

Friday, March 13, 1987 - "Itís not Metrocenter . . . Itís . . . METRO HELL." - Connie Hoy [Production Assistant]

Saturday, March 14, 1987 - "Is Tony Steedman picture ready?" - Eric Heffron [Second Assistant Director] inquiring about his status seven takes after heíd been on set

Monday, March 16, 1987 - "There was no quote oí the day today!  Fill in yourself!"  (Written in pen: "Larr, Wally, Jim, I mean Dan, come here!")

Tuesday, March 17, 1987 - "Why is this taking so long?" - Owner of Tedís house

Thursday, April 2, 1987 - "Thereís no one left to blame." - Anonymous

The infamous prom scene, which marked the original end of the film, was filmed but never used.  Will "Ox" Robbins explains, "We were not used in the prom scene, and I had only heard about it from a friend who was an extra that day."  George Carlin, of course, was present for the filming of this scene as well.  Regarding the comedian's work on the film, Stephen Herek remarked, "George has been great!  This is his third film, and heís really serious about trying to become an actor, rather than just a stand-up comedian.  George works harder than anybody Iíve ever seen as an actor.  Heís a consummate professional.  We have talking about everything Ė delivery of his lines, his mannerisms Ė he has been a total joy.  Weíve given him a new look Ė heís not very hippy-dippy weatherman any more.  This is the 1980's George Carlin and thatís whatís exciting."  George Carlin summed up his part this way: "I guess Rufus is what you would call the embodiment of total elapsed rock and roll coolness."  An interesting note is that George Carlin's daughter reportedly was one of the futuristic "domeheads" (as the people in the future referred to during shooting.)

Will "Ox" Robbins explained the major change in the final report scene, which was shot two different ways.  "The original ending had us giving our speeches in the classroom which was funny.  But the writers came back a few weeks later and decided to put more production into the scene, added some concert lighting and props.  Which gave them a chance to do more with the historical dudes, and make it a much bigger ending.  In example, Genghis (Al Leong) would not have been able to do his martial arts display, as well with Joan of Arc (Jane Wiedlin)."  During the filming of the history report segment in the auditorium, Keanu Reeves took time to speak with Starlog Magazine.  "This has been a great deal of fun.  Ted really likes this.  This final exam scene is his fantasy, with all of these cool special lights Ė itís the culmination of all of his and Billís efforts.  All of the time travel is sideline to the people in the film.  Itís not ĎAnd hereís a special effect!  Itís like ILM, with blues and reds and brawkk!," he gestures wildly.  "These are earthy, homey special effects, which Iím looking forward to seeing."  When asked if he enjoyed being in a fantasy film, Keanu replied, "Please!  Iím having the best time!  Iím playing a guy whoís so insouciant, a naive child of the woods, that itís fun and cleansing.  And then to meet all these cool people!"  Keanu told another teen magazine, "Ted has invaded my life.  I love this guy.  You know, 'cause he's such a nice guy and he's a character where I get to smile a lot."

Keanu explained his off-screen relationship with Alex while filming, "We work with each other all day and occasionally go out with the crew, but we basically only have each other to hang out with, and not go stir-crazy at night.  Itís very fortunate we like each other Ė if we didnít, filming would be hell.  Spending time together has certainly helped the work."  When Keanu was called back to work, he had to summon up his adrenalin to get back into the filming.  He explained, "Ted is hard when I donít have the energy, and I sometimes find myself commenting, in my performance, on Ted.  There are certain things Ted would do that almost become self-conscious.  I donít know if that translates well, but that bothers me.  Being consistent can be difficult, and getting the energy to bring out Ted has been the challenge Ė keeping up the energy, honesty and that whole look Ė itís hard to be a child of the woods in these times!"

Stephen referred to this boundless energy as the "puppy factor" when describing Bill and Ted, and especially Ted.  He explained that they would be like big Labrador Retrievers who just bounce along and love life, and in directing them would say, "Thereís not enough puppy factor," to get them to make things even bigger and happier and bouncier.  Originally Ed and Chris had actually envisioned Bill & Ted as a darker kind of movie, more in line with the Monty Python films.  This was evident in the sequel, Bogus Journey.  But Stephen was determined to keep the project light and happy and the energy and enthusiasm up, which enveloped the cast and crew.  Most everyone who worked on the movie has said it was one of the most pleasurable experiences of their careers.

Alex Winter took a break from sword-fighting with Jane Wiedlin to offer his opinions to Starlog Magazine as well.  "Everyone does have a very distinct character, whatever their traits Ė this movie really does focus on people as people.  Thatís what makes our parts so interesting.  We had to develop these solid characters because theyíre exposed at every angle.  Bill lives in his own world.  Heís pretty different from myself, but heís fun to play.  Heís someone who just lets loose completely, constantly escapes to his fantasyland Ė completely oblivious to the outside world. My favorite scene has been the Western town Ė we have a poker game with Billy the Kid and a group of old cowboys.  Weíre blatantly, openly cheating, and it erupts into a barroom brawl.  "I would walk through town, and there were cowboys all around Ė these guys are from Phoenix, theyíve all got guns, and they go home looking the same way they do on the set.  When they cock and aim their guns, that fine line between fantasy and reality is broken.  I definitely wasnít thinking about what I had for breakfast that morning Ė it got me into character pretty fast!  Just before Alex returns to film the scene with Napoleon and the Risk board, he added, "Iíve always wanted to shoot a Western scene strolling through town, walking through the bar doors, and having everyone stop and look at me as I order, ĎTwo beers!í  Itís something Iíve always wanted to do.  Itís a shame I had to do it as a complete bonehead, but it was still fun.  Itís rare to find a comedy thatís actually funny!"  Alex told another teen magazine, "This is a comedy and the last movie I did (The Lost Boys) wasn't that funny.  It was pretty evil.  This guy is sort of the opposite: blissful, innocent, happy, completely unjaded.  This is actually one of the only things I've done where I'm not a villain, so it's a lot of fun."

Stephen Herekís take on the lead characters was this: "Bill and Ted are guys that really are pretty endearing guys.  I think whatís infectious about both of them is how much energy and how they seem to look at the world through innocent eyes."  On the film itself , he says, "I described it as like a rock and roll fairy tale and basically a comedy for all ages.  Itís a lot like Monty Python, sort of like Fast Times at Ridgemont High meets Back to the Future.  A crazy thing."  In 1988, he told Starlog Magazine: "Itís the relationship between Bill and Ted.  Thatís what I really got caught up in, how symbiotic they were.  Theyíre like right and left Ė we canít have one without the other.  Itís a nice friendship."

The supporting cast also enjoyed playing their respective parts and took their work very seriously, lending an air of dignity to what could have been a very campy affair in the wrong hands.  On his character, Sigmund Freud, Rod Loomis told Starlog Magazine in 1988, "Call me Siggy.  His mother called him ĎMein Goldener Siggy.í"  Loomis had done extensive research on Sigmund Freud for the film.  "I wasnít looking for his theories, but for the man himself Ė physical characteristics and attitudes that I would be able to transfer on film.  Little things, like he was a ring-twister, he played with the rings on his hand.  Freud was addicted to nicotine and smoked cigars constantly, which Iím going to suggest at the beginning of my scenes, but I didnít want to have to carry it all the way through.  When Iím picked up by the boys in Vienna, I come out of the office into the street, smoking a cigar.  Thereís also a scene at the mall where I get to eat a hot dog, which is kind of funny. Rather suggestive, too."

Clifford David also talked to Starlog about his role as Beethoven.  The reporter noted how authentic his costume looked, even up close.  When asked about Beethoven being a pop star, he responded, "It fits in with the time.  For me to be archaic and historical in this setting would destroy the sceneís intention.  If Beethoven were alive today, he would be in the avant garde of this field.  He would understand the synthesizer and go beyond that, because Beethoven, in his own time, was shocking."  Starlog went on to explain that David artificially lowered his hearing to help him get into character.  The fact that Beethoven didnít speak any English is something he also found to be an interesting challenge.  "I thought, ĎWhat an incredible challenge for me not to speak!í  In these scenes, the synthesizer was an extension of me Ė at least, I hope thatís how it comes across Ė speaking through the music and the behavior.  I was fascinated to see if I could find the truth of the character without saying a line!"

It would appear that filming in Arizona ended around Friday, April 3, 1987 with the dome scenes at Carefree Studios and then some exterior mall parking lot shots at the Paradise Valley Mall (for exterior mall scenes eventually cut from the film).  The length of the entire shoot ended ten weeks later in May after a couple of weeks filming castles and coliseums in Italy for the historical parts.  Herek said, "The budget was originally $8 million but ended nearer ten - exactly what I thought it would cost all along."  According to Herek, filming went as planned, too, admitting, "The hardest bit, surprisingly, turned out to be the Ďphone booth.  It was a real prop and trying to squeeze all the actors in was funny at first but then it got really tiresome.  ĎWeíve got to get in there again?í they would moan!"  Apparently, no one liked filming in the phone booth, which was hoisted up on a crane for the shots of it dropping from the sky and also the green screen segments of traveling through time.  The actors pretty much agreed they were very uncomfortable scenes to film.  Alex noted, "While we were doing all the blue-screen shots, I thought I was going to be thrown out of this giant, motorized phone booth.  It was attached to a hydraulic shifting device Ė itís hard to act in that kind of environment!  I had to focus myself really hard and pull myself into where I am.  Iím in a studio in front of a painted blue wall, with this metal hydraulic thing whining and groaning under my feet; Iím bucking like a bronco being tossed around.  In the midst of all that, I have to act!?"  But Stephen Herek felt it was important to show the booth actually traveling through time instead of just leaving one location and arriving in another.  As he explained, "There have been a number of movies and TV series dealing with the same back to the future idea as Bill and Ted.  But this was primarily about their unexpected fantasy coming true.  We knew the special effects would cover us in key areas, but for the most part we had to rely on the actors and technicians to help the illusions come to life.  Luckily, everything ran very smoothly."  These hydraulic scenes were filmed at Carefree Studios near the end of the filming schedule in Arizona.

Filming in Europe turned out to be memorable for much of the cast and crew.  Chris Matheson recalled that when they first filmed in Rome, Italy, at first he and Ed werenít given a per diem, so they would watch the rest of the crew eating their dinners and they would be sitting at the table like peasants, although the per diemed crew did finally break down and give them some of the food.  Alex recalled that during the shooting in Rome they put Bill and Ted signs up, so that when they were filming at the Piazza de Venezia, a building no one had been in since Mussolini left power, the police were there and they were filming the Freud and Socrates scenes and the people there didnít know what was going on.  As Alex noted, "It was is if Bill and Ted had invaded Rome."

Finally, director Stephen Herek explained that some second unit waterslide stuff was filmed in San Dimas (at Raging Waters).  Scott Kroopf said it was done after the movie was completed just to give the scenes a little better vibe and excitement.

So the filming was completed, the footage was in the can and post-production could begin.  But would Excellent Adventure make it to the big screen . . . or would it end up as a straight-to-video release?

GO TO THE SHOOTING SCHEDULE


Article Sources: 

Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Collection - Non-Bogus Disc: In Conversation with Screenwriters Chris Matheson & Ed Solomon
Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Collection - Non-Bogus Disc: The Most Triumphant "Making-of" Documentary
Cinefantastique, August 1991 - Writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon on the birth of a phenomenon
Starburst - May 1990
Production schedule and call sheets provided by Jim Meyer