San Francisco is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the world, especially as a location. In 2010 I had the privilege of working on a number of photo shoots, commercials and a feature film in the Bay area. What I discovered, there are so many places in San Francisco and also around the Bay area for doing a shoot. Twin Peaks for instance, the second highest point in San Francisco; has probably the best view of the city. One can see the Golden Gate Bridge from the west, a view that is uncanny from this angle. To the east, one can see the Financial District, the Oakland Bay Bridge, China Town, Pier 39 and more. The view of the bay from this angle is spectac
ular; it is almost like one is in a helicopter. From the perspective of someone who drives a large vehicle for a living, motor homes, access to Twin Peaks is easy; just take Market Street west, Market Street turns into Portola Drive, and make a right at Twin Peaks Blvd., in a few minutes you will have access to one of the best views of San Francisco.
Baker Beach has one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge looking to the east. If one continues to walk east along the beach, one would see a bridge that appears to emerge out of a fog bank. In late afternoon on a sunny day, the sun covers the Golden Gate Bridge in an orange hue. This is probably one of the most popular locations to do a shoot because of how it highlights one of best-known bridges in California. Parking for large and small crews is not an issue; there is a large lot and a sub-lot. Baker Beach is just west of the Presidio and thirty minutes from most of San Francisco Hotels.
Fort Point has one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge looking west. There is a bluff that allows a great shot of the bay and the GG Bridge. If one is lucky, they can get a great shot of the bridge with low-lying fog. Big plus, there is a dirt lot with lots of parking, however this lots fills up quickly and one needs to get permission to use this lot for staging and crew parking. Shooting on the Golden Gate Bridge is no easy task, especially if you plan to block lanes. Though it is not impossible, the City of San Francisco can be a little testy about their little bridge, do not take no for answer, it will just take some time to get clearance. If you want easy access to a similar bridge, the Fremont Bridge in Portland, Oregon; was the prototype for the Golden Gate Bridge, it crosses the Columbia River. This was the Plan B if our Producers were not able to have access to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Fremont Bridge does not exactly look like the GG Bridge, but from the right angle it can pass.
If you cross the Golden Gate Bridge to the north, there is scenic point on the right; that has a view of San Francisco and the GG Bridge. A number of tour buses stop here and for good reason, below ships enter and exit the bay, Alcatraz Island, formally known as the “Rock” is located to the east. San Francisco emerges from a fog bank in an array of hues; the city is bustling with activity, even at night. At night San Francisco glows like the neon lights in Las Vegas.
San Francisco has a bad rap in terms of the cost to film at this city; this was true in the past. Because of the economy, SF needs the revenue that Hollywood brings and they are willing to work with producers. There is an abundance of qualified crew, support equipment, generators, grip and lighting rentals. Tim Ramaham (510-268-3500) rents grip equipment, tables, chairs, steamers, etc.… Tim is also a good contact source for other equipment needs. The Reel Directory (Lynetta Freeman 415-531-9760); is the best source for obtaining crew list, venders, location needs, etc.… Motor homes and portable restrooms I recommend my company Mike Green RVs 415-730-7127, I know the Bay area and I know how to give my clients that personal service they crave.
For still shoots, San Francisco is a very friendly place to shoot; SFPD are nice to crews in terms of blocking traffic, safety and parking needs. With that said, San Francisco is a crazy place for parking; from experience, make sure you secure parking in advance. Most of streets have limited times for parking and some of those streets are very narrow. With planning San Francisco is a great place for your next shoot.