Los Angeles Stories and Tips

Location, Location, Location

Paramount Movie Ranch Photo, Los Angeles, California

You’re just trying to return a library book, but the street is blocked off - without warning - by uniformed police officers (who are strangely off-duty). You’re simply carrying groceries to your car when someone runs up, clipboard in hand, and tells you to "Get out of the shot". Or, suddenly, the bar you’re trying to enter, breaks out in a large fistfight -- all captured on film. Welcome to "Location Filming" in L.A.

There are a few ways to find out where films have been shot, and where they are currently filming.
1) You can pester the people at the L.A. film permit office for a "daily shoot sheet". Film L.A. Inc. Physical address: Los Angeles Center Studios, 450 S. Bixel St., Ste T-800, downtown. Mailing address: 1201 W. 5th St., Ste T-800, LA, CA 90017. Phone (213) 977-8600.
2) Buy a $5 map from any of the many, many vendors around the Hollywood area. They’ll point out the locations of past films, and stars homes. (Don’t expect to see Jennifer Aniston’s house listed. It’s behind 45 different gates, locked up like a prison. These are the home of the ‘by gone’ era stars.)
3) Sign up for a Hollywood Tour - information is available at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. (See the note about ‘by gone’ era).
4) Check out the following websites: www.movie-locations.com or www.wheredidtheyfilmthat.co.uk (British locations) or
http://www.insidecollege.com/reno/Campuses-Where-Movies-Were-Filmed/764/list.do (college campuses)

If you are looking for somewhere a bit less crowded, and a location which has been used multiple times, we have a couple of suggestions for you.

Greystone Mansion
905 Loma Vista Drive
off of Sunset Blvd. in Beverly Hills

It all began with the 1929 short film, Small Talk.

Forever Amber – The Invisible Boy – General Hospital – The Day Mars Invaded Earth – The Disorderly Orderly – Dead Ringer – The Loved One – Brainstorm – Picture Mommy Dead – Maryjane – Phantom of the Paradise – Eraserhead – The Stronger – Stripes – Knight Rider – Bare Essence – The Winds of War – Murder, She Wrote – Ghost Busters – All of Me – Jumpin’ Jack Flash – MacGyver – Dark Mansions – The Witches of Eastwick – Flowers in the Attic – Falcon Crest – Ghostbusters II – The Fabulous Baker Boys – Dynasty: The Reunion – The Marrying Man – Dark Shadows – Nothing But Trouble – Guilty By Suspicion – Memoirs of an Invisible Man – The Bodyguard – Death Becomes Her – Indecent Proposal – The Puppet Masters – Cabin Boy – Nixon – Marvin’s Room – The Phantom – The Lost World: Jurassic Park – Batman & Robin – The Beautician and the Beast – Air Force One – The Inheritance – The Big Lewbowski – Jane Austen’s Mafia – The Astronaut’s Wife – What Women Want – Hanging Up – Gilmore Girls – X-Men – Town & Country – Rock Star – A Mighty Wind – The Prestige – Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties – The Holiday – My First Time Driving – There Will be Blood – National Treasure: Book of Secrets….

More than 65 films, TV shows and music videos have one thing in common: Greystone Mansion. This ever popular film location is the largest home ever built in Beverly Hills. The Tudor mansion, on 16 acres, boasts 55 rooms and 46,000 square feet of living space, and was built by oil tycoon Edward Doheny in 1928 to the tune of $4 million.

The estate was a gift to his son, Edward Jr. But, just four months after moving into the home with his family, Edward Jr. was part of a murder-suicide, along with his secretary. The deaths were connected to Edward Sr.’s trial over the Teapot Dome scandal (a bribery investigation into Warren G. Harding’s White House administration.)

The mansion can only be viewed from the outside, unless you are lucky enough to attend a private event. Soon-to-be President Obama held a $28,500 per plate function here in 2008. Or you could attend a wedding. Both James Woods and Kirk Douglas married (though not to each other) at the estate.

Paramount Ranch
2813 Paramount Ranch Road (off of Cornell Road) in Agoura Hills.

As you stand on a hill topped with long meadow grasses, you look down to see a small, western town, something out of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. You look closer. It is Colorado Springs!

A clapboard town filled with a stable, barns, outbuildings, log cabins, a saloon, sheriff’s office, why, it’s the very street Jane Seymour, John Wayne, Cary Grant, Kirk Douglas, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Roy Rogers and Gary Cooper walked.

Paramount Ranch was the backdrop for over 200 films and TV shows, in use for more than 60 years. The 2,700 acre parcel of land, on the banks of Malibu Creek, became a filming location in 1927 when Paramount Pictures purchased it. And now, though many of the film sets are gone, you too can stroll the dusty streets, as it became part of the National Park Service in 1980.

Other Movie Ranches:

Movie ranches sprung up all over Southern California in the 1920s -- partly in an attempt to capture the open range for the newly-popular Western movies. Some ranches are open to the public.

1) Hopetown: Bob Hope purchased the property, the Corriganville Movie Ranch, in 1966. It has become part of the Corriganville Regional Park. However, little remains of the sets built for filming. 7001 Smith Road, Simi Valley.

2) Ahmanson Ranch (formerly Lasky Mesa): The 4,000 acre ranch has seen its fair share of big films, including one of the biggest, ‘Gone With The Wind’. It has been absorbed into the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve, and there’s not much left of filming there.

3) 20th Century Fox Ranch: The lot was purchased in 1946 by Fox and has remained in the company’s holdings. It’s famous for being the backdrop of the Tarzan movies and MASH TV series. Today, it is still used as a filming location, but has become part of the Malibu Creek State Park.

4) The Spahn Movie Ranch: This is now part of the Santa Susana Pass State Historick Park. Most of the movie sets are gone, destroyed in a fire in 1970. Perhaps the park is more famous for it’s connection to the Manson Family, who took up residence here in the late 1960s.

5) Golden Oak Ranch: Walt Disney purchased the 315 acre parcel in 1959 and expanded it to 827 acres. It is still a working movie ranch, but open to the public. The ranch is located off of Placerita Canyon Road in Newhall, California.

6) Columbia Ranch (Warner Bros): One of the better kept ranches, complete with a New York street, Colonial street, Modern street, etc. and the fountain that can be seen in the opening credits of ‘Friends’. The 40-acre parcel has become part of Columbia’s ‘backlot’, located on Hollywood Way and Oak street.

Last Bit o’ Trivia:

Florence Lawrence was the first person to receive screen credits in 1910 for ‘The Broken Oath’. Prior to this she was known as the Biograph Girl. The studios didn’t want any one person to be recognized so that they could control the actors.

Maybe they should’ve stuck with the plan, then they wouldn’t have had to pay Jim Carrey $20 million for ‘The Cable Guy’ in 1996. (Carrey was the first $20 million celeb, and his salary took up nearly half of the film’s $47 million budget).

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