I’d love this post to be about a tour of the inside of M5 Industries, but of course it isn’t. Mythbusters has been an influential and seminal Discovery Channel show for me over the last 10 years or so. Most of the 260 odd episodes has been filmed “on location” at co-host Jamie Hyneman’s special effects workshop known as M5 Industries Inc (also the name of his Special Effects Company) in San Francisco which is a very ordinary building in a small industrial area just east of the Mission District.
I was delighted to find a large yellow cabbed truck with gaffer tape covering the logos and branding, meaning it’s a show vehicle, that is to say that it’s probably appeared on screen. It was branded “Beyond Productions” which is the name of the Australian production company that makes Mythbusters for Discovery Channel.
There was a delightful little note on the workshop door saying “Mythbusters fans DO NOT KNOCK filming in progress. Thanks and be safe!” and above that a post-it note asking for UPS or FedEx to knock loudly. A sheet of plasma cutter damaged metal was hung to obscure the window. The (I’d like to say famous) roller shutter door had numerous names written in the dirty on it. I didn’t add mine, in fact I didn’t touch or medal with any part of the building at all.
The thing that struck me the most was how ordinary and unremarkable the place was compared to how influential and important the content that came out of that building has been for me. Something about that made me quite pleased. It reminded me that great and influential work can come from the most work-a-day of places and that making things and teaching STEAM doesn’t require big-budgets and special locations to get some of the best educational television ever made.
Later I was able to have a poke about near the “Alameda Runway” another filming location for the Mythbusters.