I got a call from a very good Client of mine if I was interested in doing a job in Lake Tahoe; the job was to take place in late March. To the uninitiated, Lake Tahoe is one of the snowiest places in the United States, only behind Truckee; which happens to be the town one would have to exit from if they wanted to go to Tahoe City, or in my case, Squaw Valley. I checked the Weather Channel on the Internet for ten-day weather forecast, despite the fact that the previous week Tahoe received a record twenty-five feet of snow, the week of the shoot the weather was going to be mild. I agreed to the job, but to play it safe I bought my chains with me and some cash to have someone take my chains on and off for me.
Donner Pass on I-80 is the main route to Tahoe City or as in my case to Squaw Valley; if your destination is South Lake Tahoe you would take I-50 or Highway 395 from Los Angeles. I latter learned that you can also access South Lake Tahoe from I-80 to 89 S, but because of record snow, 89 S has been closed for most of the winter because of concerns of avalanches. I am used to driving in bad weather, though I like to use my common sense, I try to avoid driving at night or early morning, especially if the temperature drops below freezing. I gave myself a two day window to get up to Tahoe, I did not want to drive through Donner Pass at night; Donner Pass is steep and winding, and if you are going too fast you can meet your deceased relatives sooner than you expected. I tend drive very conservatively, especially in atrocious weather.
My Client put the crew up at the Resort at Squaw Creek, a wonderful resort, that had I had a couple of extra days in my schedule, I would had stayed there and did some cross country skiing and some hiking. I arrived a day before the shoot and took a bus to Tahoe City, a fifteen minute bus ride from the resort. Tahoe City is located on the most northern part of Lake Tahoe; Tahoe City is a combination rustic mixed with modernism. One would find small boutiques, ski stores, coffer shops, a post office, a small movie theatre, a Subway Sandwich and a grocery store and more. There was a park on the lake edge, but because of heavy snow, it was inaccessible.
Typically places like Lake Tahoe-California, Mt. Hood-Oregon, Sun Valley-Idaho, and Mt. Reiner-Washington are used as locations for fashion and catalogue shoots, especially for winter and Christmas issues. Since it takes sometimes up to eight months to produce a catalogue book, shooting for these books occur in March and April, when there is still snow on the ground. As in the case of this photo shoot, the unnamed company was shooting a winter issue. The weather was perfect low 50’s during the day, though it did get cold at night.
The biggest challenge to shooting at places like Lake Tahoe in early spring is the weather can be unpredictable, so in terms of planning; having a couple optional days built into the schedule helps take the uncertainty out of the equation. The Resort at Squaw Creek has ample parking for any size crew in the service parking lot, the rooms are spacious, the amenities are awesome and the people are extremely helpful.
If you plan to shoot in the Lake Tahoe area, call Kathleen Dodge 800 457 6279 at the El Dorado Lake Tahoe Film & Media Office. If you want to stay at The Resort at Squaw Creek call 866 635 7937. Of course, if you need a really nice luxury talent or production motor home for your next shoot you can call me (Mike Green) at Mike Green RVs 818 317 7099.