Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The USS Iowa; is open to commercial filming

You walk up the gangplank, this is not just any ship; this is the USS Iowa, the ship that ended WW II.  (The peace treaty with the Japanese was signed on the Iowa). The USS Iowa has served in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and the Cold War. This is a battleship that can hurl a missile fifteen hundred miles; or send a shell the size of a car twenty-six miles.  It is an impressive battleship, a ship that was made to carry the biggest stick to our enemies and come back home to talk about it.   The Iowa is 887 feel long, 45,000 tons with a 108 feet beam.  She is sleek, she is fast, and she had a crew of 2,637, plus 151 officers, before she was decommissioned in 1990.  An interesting fact, the United States never lost a battleship at sea and the Iowa class is the longest serving battleship in the United States navy. 

The other day I decided to take a tour of the USS Iowa, docked at San Pedro, California.  Being a WWII enthusiast I figured this would be the perfect way to spend the day.  As blogger I quickly released this could be an awesome location to film at, there are a number of great places to use as a background.  The great thing is, very few photographers have used a battleship to photograph on.  To use a battleship like the Iowa, the possibilities are endless in terms of coming up with interesting shots.  There is the bow with two battery of 16 guns, which overlooks the entrance to the San Pedro Harbor.  If you look towards the stern, you have one battery of 16inch guns and mid ship you have the bridge.  On the port and starboard sides are 5inch guns, rails, and mired of very interesting places to shoot at.  As a filmmaker doing a chase scene on a battleship is very tempting, there are so many places a character can hide, the possibilities are endless what one could do on a battleship.

San Pedro is only an hour from Los Angeles, well within the zone, parking is plentiful, and the USS Iowa is open for commercial filming.  Just call 877-446-9261 for more information, ask for someone in the events department. 

I am always searching for interesting places to share with my readers. The USS Iowa is worth visiting because it represents such an important part of American history in the Twentieth Century.   It is hard not to become a little patriotic.    If you need a motor home or have any questions please call me Mike Green 818 317 7099.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dale Dry Lake-An awesome place to do your next film shoot

I left Palm Springs at five in the morning heading east to a location that I had never been before, yet I had been there before.  Confusing yes, Superior Salt Flats and Dale Dry Lakebed are on the same property.  I headed up the pass on Highway-62; there were few vehicles on the road at this early hour.  Fortunately it was a windless morning, the windmills were still; I did not have to fight the wind today.  It took me about an hour to reach Twenty-nine Palms, I turn left at Adobe Road, and a few miles later I made a right at Amboy Road.  For the next thirty minutes I watch the sun make it way through the auburn sky, several times I was tempted to pull off the road and take a picture.  I knew this would be a bad idea; the shoulder of the road is soft and very easy to get any vehicle stuck in the soft sand.  As the road turn left, I slowed down to make a right at Ironage Road, a dirt road.   I’ve been on this road before, in my truck, I would put it in four-wheel drive and start having fun.  In my motor home it meant going five miles an hour, and watching for the ruts in the road.  It took me about thirty minutes to travel the 2.3 miles to get to the lakebed.  (Note, look for the water tower, this is where you make the right turn that takes you to the lake.)  This is the only road you will encounter, if you are not paying attention you can easily miss this turn.  If you plan on driving a Porsche or any other vehicle that rides low to the ground, don’t do it, you will tear up your suspension.  A passenger van or any SUV that you don’t mind getting dirty is a better option.

Dale Dry Lakebed is one of those lakebeds in the middle of the Mojave Desert that has a light brown dirt surface with cracks.  “It is surrounded by the Sheep Hole Mountains to the north and the Pinto Mountains to the south”.  It is an awesome location that is very lonely, void of any life, except for the occasional vehicles on Amboy Road far in the distance.  Unlike El Mirage Dry Lake or Soggy Dry Lake, which are on public land, Dale Dry Lakebed is on private property.  When you rent this lake for your shoot, you will not have any problems with public intrusion.  The same cannot be indicated about El Mirage or Soggy.  In the winter, the weather is pleasant, with daytime temperatures in the sixties or seventies.  In the summer it is hot, hot, hot, it’s the desert, what do you expect Alaska?  The best time of the year is fall, winter and early spring.  There are no restrooms at Dale Dry Lakebed and no shade, so you would want to rest a motor home, trailer or at the very least portable restrooms.  I can supply that equipment if you need it (Mike Green 818-317-7099) at local rates.

This is a location like no other.   There is almost 360 degrees of openness without any signs of human intervention.  The exception is the salt flats and some heavy equipment next to the salt flats.  Our crew found plenty of different possibilities for the various shots, since we located the production vehicles in the direction of the salt flats, we did not need to ever move the trucks, cars and motor homes.   I wrote about the Salt Flats before, the Superior Salt Flats located on the same property changes depending if the various salt lakes are filled with water.  It is an interesting location because there are so many places to shoot at the Salt Flats.  Please refer to my previous blogs about this location.

Dale Dry Lake Bed is a hard location to find if you are not paying attention.  Since I have been to this location before, I marked the entrance with two cones at Ironage Road and another two cones on the road that takes you to the lakebed.  Sylvia Lemke, who runs Locations Unlimited 760-861-4144 or Thies Lemke 760-343-8327, represents this location and she can assist you with the maps and information about the lakebed.  If you plan to do a project at this location I would suggest you stay in Twenty-Nine Palms, which is about forty-five minutes from Dale Dry Lake Bed.  My favorite place to stay is the 29 Palms Inn 760-367-3505.  The Inn is made up of cottages of various sizes, with names like “Fault Line” or “Earth Quake”.  This is not the Four Seasons; it is a cool place to rest your head after a busy day at the lake.  The rooms are rustic, with old CRT TVs; (at least the last time I was there about a year ago 2012), the beds are comfortable, and the furniture is something out of the 50’s or 60’s.  The Inn is also a great place to do a photo shoot, music video or whatever, because there are so many great places to film.  There is a duck pond, an old wooden buggy, and the Mojave Desert in the back of the Inn, a swimming pool, and around the cottages are interesting places to film too. In digress; Twenty-nine Palms has plenty of options for lodging, fuel (diesel and gas) and food. If you need an RV Dump Station, there is the Twentynine Palms Resort, RV Park 800-874-4548. For catering I really like Coyote Kitchen 760-366-5271, the food is awesome and the service they provide is outstanding, plus they are knowledgeable and local.

Again, if you want more information about this location call Sylvia Lemke from Locations Unlimited 760-861-4144 or Thies Lemke 760-343-8327 represents both Dale Dry Lakebed and the Superior Salt Flats.  If you need additional details or pictures of either location, lodging possibilities, motor homes, portables restrooms, please call me Mike Green at 818-317-7099.

Monday, December 16, 2013

El Mirage Dry Lakebed Revisited-A great place to to do your next film, photo shoot or commercial

Dear Reader,

The sun is slowing rising above the mountains to the east.  It is a cool crisp morning at El Mirage.  I wait for the crew at the entrance to the park.  If you are speeding along El Mirage Road, it is easy to pass.  Though there is a big sign that says “El Mirage”, people do get lost especially early in the morning.  When you have a large forty-foot motor home parked on the main road, it is easy to spot the dry lake.  There was a time about ten years ago that the road was not paved, it was a rough dirt road.  Unless you had a 4 X 4 vehicle, it was slow going.  Today the road is paved except for the last quarter of a mile.  The speed limit is twenty-five miles with speed bumps.

Once you get on the lake you can go as fast as your car or truck can go, just watch out for the ruts on the lakebed.  Any part of the road that is dark or grassy is best to avoid at any rate of speed. My best speed in my truck was 108 and that was scary.  In my motor home I try to keep the speed around 30, if I hit a rut, the results would not be pleasant for me, or my RV.

El Mirage is the closest of all the lakebeds to Los Angeles.  It is also the easiest of all the lakes to get to, thanks to the paved road.  The only issue is that the lake is on public land, therefore the public “can” intrude on your set.  Personally I have never seen that happen.  However if you have a major celebrity or a car that you need to keep undercover this location might not be your best option.  During the week, unless there is a major event going on, there are few people on the lake.  Weekends at El Mirage can be tricky, most of the time few people are there, unless there is an event going.  If there is an event that day more than likely the BLM will not issue a film permit.

El Mirage is opened year round unless the lake is closed because of rain, snow, heavy winds or as I indicated an event.  It can get very cold in winter; on some rare occasions snow is possible, though personally I have never seen the lake covered in snow. If it did snow both Interstate 15 and Highway 14 would be closed because of snow, therefore this would be a mute point because your crew would not be able to get to El Mirage.  In summer the temperature can hit over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit and on days when the Santa Ana’s winds are blowing one could fly a five year old on a kit.  Only once did heavy winds become a major issue.

I have written about El Mirage Dry Lake in earlier blogs.  I decided I wanted to revisit this location topic again.  Since I purchased my 4 X 4 truck last year, my truck has allowed me to explore more of the lakebed. The road is dirt, but as long as you drive slow, one can navigate any size vehicle on this road. What I discovered is there are several campsites nestled in the foothills just east of the lake.  There is plenty of parking at some of these camps, what makes it interesting is the topography, it is not flat, one is surrounded by a small valley.  There are hills and Joshua trees and desert shrubs.  This is perfect if your look requires this type of background, if you need the lakebed, the lakebed is just a short drive from the many camps.  When you scout this road, continue on Mountain View Road past the visitor center and head north.  You will see several dry campsites on both sides of the road.  The road will eventually end and it becomes extremely rough, keep that in mind if you are driving a small car, I would suggest a SUV or a 4 x 4 truck to navigate this road beyond the last camp site.  Consult with a ranger or personal at the visitor center.  Or call me Mike Green (818-317-7099) if you have any questions.

In terms of lodging and food there is the town of Adelanto, about twenty minutes south/east.  I cannot recommend lodging in Adelanto, it is not a safe town; it has a high crime rate.  For food there is Bravo Burgers (760-246-4813); Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill (760-530-9161); Subway (760-530-0803); Thai-Siam Restaurant (760-246-8122) and other such establishments.  For lodging I would recommend the Hawthorn Suites in Victorville (760-949-4700. Hawthorn is my favorite hotel because there is plenty of parking for large vehicles, there is a complementary breakfast and the staff is great.  The Ambassador Hotel (760-245-6565) is the closest hotel to El Mirage and has plenty of parking for large vehicles, and is nice, though I have not been inside the hotel in a few years, therefore you might want to scout this hotel out in advance.  The Hilton Garden Inn (760-241-7200) is the newest of the three hotels, I have not been inside this hotel yet; again you might visit this hotel in advance.

If you have a lot of expensive vehicles and equipment, you should hire a local security company like Steve Nader (760-508-1440); he has a team of highly qualified security personal to watch over your important equipment day or night. I would suggest hiring a security team because thieves know film crews have expensive stuff that is worth a lot of money.  I am not indicating that Victorville is an unsafe place, I feel for peace of mind anywhere a production lands for the night, having someone have eyes on the vehicles is a safe bet.

El Mirage Entrance
 Map provided by BLM.
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Entrance from El Mirage Road

If you need more information, film permits, local crew, call Sheri Davis at 951-377-7849 or Dan Taylor at 951-232-1271 at the Inland Empire Film Commission.  If you need motor homes, portable restrooms or location scout call me Mike Green at 818 317-7099.