More Fun TATMR Facts

All the miscellaneous trivia we have uncovered over the course of our research

A Suble Hint

Where on earth could they have shot this scene?

The Isle of Man's flag can be seen briefly in the Shining Time Station intro at the beginning of the movie. A suble hint of where this and a few other scenes were filmed.
The young lad in the photo is an Isle of Man resident. He, like many other locals, were hired as extras in the movie. In August, 1999, a BBC News crew visited the filming location on the IOM. They remarked about the lengths the production crew took to make the locale look 'American'. They interviewed one of the children cast as an extra, and this is what Bobby Kneale had to say. "It's (the movie) set in America. We're on the Isle of Man, and we have to bring all our clothes down and let them choose for us the ones that look American."

The Magic Railroad and Ley Lines Connection

A very interesting factoid from the film studio's movie Production Notes. The full article, including Britt Allcroft's detailed concept for the Magic Railroad/Ley Lines connection can be found in the 'Magic Railroad - Feature Articles'  page. The following photos demonstrate how the Magic Railroad was depicted on maps seen in the movie.

Billy Twofeather's map of Indian Valley

Mysterious lines crisscross Billy Twofeather's map of Indian Valley. These mysterious lines do not go unnoticed by Patch as he was painting the Shining Time Billboard. When Billy Two-Feathers arrives in Shining Time aboard the 'Rainbow Sun'  (his engine), Patch takes the opportunity to ask him about the shadowy lines seen on the map that resemble the tracks of railways.
Billy begins answering "It's mysteries that make this place..."
"...magical",  replies Patch.

Additional shadowy lines can be seen crisscrossing the map hanging on the wall behind Lady in Burnett Stone's Muffle Mountain workshop.
These mapped lines represent the Magic Railroad - as described by Patch in the movie. "This must be the map of her Magic Railroad. But the railroad's energy is fading away. I sensed it when we were riding. Lily and I were travelling on the ground above it!"

Lady's Magic Railroad as depicted on Burnett Stone's map

Life Imitating Art (or vice-versa)?

Ajani Booth shares this rather uncanny example of life imitating art (or vice-versa). When you compare Richard Kriegler's matte painting for the movie (bottom-left), with the photo taken by professional photographer Oleg Gordienko (bottom right),   it appears that the Magic Railroad portal, exists in real life! Known as the 'Green Tunnel' or 'Green Mile', this is a real place found near the town of Rivne, Western Ukraine. Higher quality images of the Green Tunnel can be found on Oleg Gordienko's website. Though Oleg's photos are recent and the location in existence for decades,  it really does make us pause to wonder!

The Magic Railroad: Life imitating Art?
The Magic Railroad: Life imitating Art?

The Fairies Explained

At the very end of the movie's credits, special thanks are given by the producers to the 'fairies'. Here is the story behind it according to Co-Producer Philip D. Fehrle.
We'd like to thank Daily News (Los Angeles) columnist Valerie Kuklenski and Librarian Miriam Velasquez for permission to post excerpts of Valerie's 29 July, 2000 article to the fansite. 
Fehrle said the locals on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea [1], where the exteriors were shot, made no secret of their beliefs in folklore, particularly their respect for fairies and the good or bad will they could cause.

Fehrle said his location manager, Jim Cleary, was driving one day when they crossed a span labeled ``The Fairy Bridge.''

"He said, `Good morning, fairies,' '' Fehrle said. ``He said, 'Phil, if you want to have good luck on this picture, you should say good morning to the fairies.' ''

Much later in the shoot, Fehrle said, the crew was setting up a shot in a large field with one clump of brush standing in it.

"Jim pointed to it and said, 'There are fairies living in there. It'd probably be a good idea to get their permission to be here,' '' Fehrle said.

By then, the Encino-based producer, who usually deals with film offices, city bureaucrats and property owners for such matters, had fallen in step with the customs.

"So I went over and had a conversation with the fairies,'' he said. ``And then I came back and said, 'Jim, I'm not sure, but I think they said it was OK.'

"And you can believe whatever you want, but we had great weather.''
1. Originally and mistakenly referred to as the 'North Sea' in the Daily News article. Our thanks go to longtime SiF member Eliot A. for pointing this out, and we have updated the text accordingly.

Their Lips Remained Sealed

At one point during production, there was talk of giving the engines one new added characteristic. Though producer Britt Allcroft's intuition resisted the suggestion, the pros and cons for either going/not going ahead with this plan were indeed discussed!
Again, we thank Daily News Librarian Miriam Valasquez for permission to post excerpts of Valerie's article.
"We talked long and hard about it because we were conflicted about whether the mouths should move or not,'' said Phil Fehrle, the film's other producer. "Early on, everybody automatically assumed the mouths would move, and we said, 'Not necessarily.' And I think we agonized over that decision for about eight weeks before we decided.

"It was always an audience consideration - will the audience be disappointed if the mouths don't move or will they be disappointed if the mouths do move,'' Fehrle said. ``I was glad a year ago when we made the decision, and I'm glad today

What would the engines have looked like with moving mouths you ask? Our curiosity got the better of us, so we experimented with a clip from the movie (seen below). Not high-tech CGI, but entertaining nonetheless!  For the record, we're more than happy with the existing status quo and the decision the producers made for not animating the mouths!

It's all in the Lingo

References to people and places in Thomas and the Magic Railroad , and even earlier - Shining Time Station can be found in  the lexicon once used by North American railway workers.

Described as a "drifter by choice" by Britt Allcroft in her  script's character notes, PT Boomer's surname could be attributed to the term once used for men who were drawn to boom camps for work. They never settled down and were always on the move from one railroad job to another.  Early American railwaymen also often addressed one another by their initials, possibly explaining why Boomer is only known as 'PT'.  
Indian Valley:
A railwayman's paradise that can be found at the end of the rainbow where good jobs could be found and where the trains always ran on time.  A 'Boomer' who was quitting a job (or was fired) would often say that they were going to the "Indian Valley".


A correspondant of mine, retired GM&O - ICG* train dispatcher Bill Dunbar mentioned that Indian Valley was the place all good railroaders went to when they died.

* Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad - Illinois Central Gulf Railroad

Shining Time:
American railroad workers used the term 'Shining Time' synonymously with 'Starting Time' when the work day begins at sunrise.


Executive producer Phil Fehrle stoked Lady's Fire
An interesting factoid discovered during the course of our research revealed that the firebox scene with Lady was actually filmed during the winter of 2000 in the alleyway of GVFX's Toronto office. An open (doorless) firebox was set up for Bill Neil to film the scene. A coal fire was lit and stoked by none other than Executive Producer Phil  Fehrle. The fire was then sequenced by the special effects crew to make it appear that it was Burnett Stone who was doing all the work.  ;-)

Crew Cameos

As Britt Allcroft mentioned in her letter to Ryan, the girl with the dyed red hair pictured on this page was a member of the movie's art department. We're also told that another TATMR crew member had a cameo - this being the seated gentleman seen @ 7:58 minutes into the movie: Key Grip 'Ricco
With Thanks to Dave Axford for the tip :)

A TATMR cameo by Key Grip 'Ricco'

The voice behind Annie & Clarabel - Britt Allcroft's Personal Assistant Shelley Elizabeth Skinner makes a cameo in one of the final scenes as one of Stacey Jones' customers. The red-headed stage hand from the beginning of the movie also makes another appearance as a cleaner (seen right).

Shelley Elizabeth Skinner
Shelley Elizabeth Skinner

Producer Phil Fehrle makes a split-second cameo cheering the baseball players on in one of the final scenes of the movie.

Producer Phil Fehrle cheering team on (right)

Pennsylvania Unit Production Manager Keith W. Strandberg was asked by Britt to portray a departing husband cameo in one of the early scenes of the movie. Read more about it here

PA Unit Production Manager Keith W. Strandberg cam
PA Unit Production Manager Keith W. Strandberg

And we've confirmed that the motorcyclist seen at the crossroads with Burnett Stone was actually Production Manager Noella Nesdoly in the guise of PT Boomer.

Motorcyclist at Crossroads (Noella Nesdoly)
Motorcyclist at Crossroads (Noella Nesdoly)