Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bristol Salt Flats & El Mirage Dry Lakebed-Great Location to do your next Shoot

Dear Reader,

As I reflect this year, 2012, I started my year in Sonoma at the Infineon Raceway on a car shoot.  Ironically I ended 2011 at the same location; in fact all of my December jobs in 2011 was in the Bay Area (near San Francisco).  Certain times of the year San Francisco is my number one market, I like working there because there are so many great locations in and near San Francisco

Infineon Raceway
Infineon Raceway
When it comes to my favorite places in 2012, I have to break it into categories, for instance best salt flats in Southern California, that would have to be Amboy, near 29 Palms, about 3.3 hours north/east of Los Angeles.  In  2012 I was there for several fashion shoots and one car commercial.  What my clients liked about Bristol Salt Flats as it is referred to, is the fact of the solitude, the flats are on private property, which means my clients have full privacy.  This is important if there is an A-list celebrity or a prototype of a product that requires seclusion from the general public. The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, located off of Interstate 80 has 30,000 acres of land, but it is located on public land which means productions has less control of people interfering with the shoot.  Bristol Salt Flats is close to Los Angeles, a one day shoot is possible, though I always recommend staying in 29 Palms the night before the project, especially if there is an early call time.  29 Palms is a major town and there are plenty of lodging, food, fuel and other options for any size crew.

El Mirage Dry Lakebed
El Mirage Dry Lakebed is my favorite dry lakebed if your needs is a nice flat brown surface surrounded by mountains on all sides.  El Mirage is located about two hours north/east of Los Angeles in San Bernardino County; it is the closest dry lakebed to LA, with the best and easiest access for large and small vehicles.  Soggy Dry Lakebed near Lucerne is another dry lakebed, but it is over three-hour drive form the Zone and it is more difficult to ingress.  El Mirage has a paved road, except for the last quarter of mile, it is flat and very film friendly, it is located on BLM land, during the week, unless there is a major event the public is not a major concern.   Victorville is only forty-five minutes from El Mirage with many lodging, dining, food, fuel and other options available.  The town of Adelanto is closer to El Mirage Dry Lakebed, however I always inform my clients to avoid this city, it has a major crime problem and there is no guarantee that criminals would not molest your equipment.  Victorville is a major town and offers crews nicer accommodations and dining options.
El Mirage Dry Lakebed

I am going to write future blogs about the best locations to film or photograph not just in California, but other Western States including, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.  Again if you have any questions about the locations I mentioned in this blog, or you have questions about film permits or you need a motor home or portable restrooms, call me Mike Green at 818.317.7099.

Bristol Salt Flats-Amboy

Bristol Salt Flats-Amboy

Bristol Salt Flats-Amboy

Monday, November 5, 2012

Phoenix; A great place to do your next shoot

Dear Reader,

I used to think California could be a substitute for Arizona, in terms of a filming or photography.  My perspective has changed a lot since I worked on a film in Arizona this fall (2012).  For instance California's desert is famous for Joshua Trees, a funny looking tree in my opinion, that is numerous and uniquely California, in fact there is a national park near Palm Springs named after this cactus where they grow in large numbers. In Arizona the most common cactus is the Saguaro, a plant that conjures the epitome of the Southwest Desert.  Not only is there a contrast in plant life and geology, Phoenix and the surrounding cities has something that even Palm Springs does not have; the buildings are modern, could I say urban desert motif.  When I travel to Palm Springs, I feel like I am going back in time to the 1950's, except for the downtown section that reminds more of a contemporary open air mall than a "real city".  The architecture of the homes in  Palm Spring was designed and built in the nineteen fifties and sixties and for the most part remained the same all these years.  In reality this is not a bad thing if your shooting a period piece or you want a retro look.  Phoenix has evolved, there are few old building,  the city feels new and vibrant, most of downtown Phoenix is newly built.  A light rail system was completed several years ago to make Phoenix a more pedestrian friendly city.  Museums, parks and other such destinations has transformed this metropolis into a place in the Southwest that is truly Sui generous to this ecosystem of human beings that converge in this desert landscape.  Instead of non-native plants and trees, Phoenix encourages native plants to compliment the panorama.

If you are looking for locations that are different than what you would find in California, consider Arizona and specifically Phoenix and the surrounding cities as your backdrop.  Phoenix is less than a six hour drive from Los Angeles with great crews and support equipment for your needs.  If you have any questions or you need a motor home call me Mike Green at 818 317 7099.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Baker Beach-San Francisco, CA

This is a very serene beach to capture the perfect shot.

There is a lagoon that attracts waterfowl, in the early morning it is very quiet, as the fog hangs low.

A rocky Clift.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

North Bend Oregon has the best Sand Dunes for Filming

Dear Reader,

I have been to a number of locations that have sand dunes, Pismo Beach, Dumont Dunes and Little Dumont Dunes, those locations all have something very special to offer, the Dumont’s are located in the Mojave Dessert and some of those dunes are over five hundred feet high. Pismo Beach is located in the central coast of California, are the only coastal dunes in California.  Until recently, I have only been to one sand dune in Oregon and that was in the town of Florence, a fishing town west of Eugene, Oregon.   

Finding a gem like Box Car Hill Campground located in North Bend, is one of the best dunes I have ever been to for a shoot or just having fun in my 4 X 4 Frontier.  This is a new campground which just opened on July 1st 2012; in my opinion the best RV park located next to the dunes in this area.  It is on private property, which means you do not need a “film permit, (please check with the film commission in North Bend/Coos Bay first), it is not on BLM land which means production has complete control of the park.  If your production requires privacy this is the best place to do your shoot, in the case of the commercial I was working on, we were shooting unreleased vehicles, privacy was a major concern. Security is always a main issue for products that have not been officially released, management at the park made sure to keep the public out of our space.  We needed a dirt road, for one of the scenes; a road was made for us, a couple of trains cars were removed from the background, everything was done for us promptly.

Since this is a campground another bonus, there is water and power to hook my motor home and other vehicles to, including 50 amp, 30 amp and 120 volt hook ups.  This kept the base camp quiet when production was shooting sound, and saved production the cost of renting big generators or paying fuel cost to vehicles that needed to run auxiliary power for their equipment at base camp.  In the future this park will have a dump station, but not in the lower parking lot, you can call Lil Stinker Portable Restrooms at 541-290-2949 and they can come to your honey wagon, motor home, portable restroom, etc…for a reasonable fee, ask for Vicky, she also provides portable restrooms if you need it for your production. 

Since it was so beautiful here at Box Car Campground, I decided to camp at this park for the week, I purchased some wood from the on site manager, so that I could make a camp fire at night and party with a few crew members who decided to stay at base camp with me.  At night it is very quiet, you can hear the waves coming to shore from the bay, you can watch the fog roll in from the Pacific Ocean, it is very serene and peaceful, it was the best sleep I had in a long time.

The dunes are some of the best I have seen, though it is not as high as Dumont Dunes in California, the scenery is uncanny.  There are fresh water lakes to the West, a lagoon to the East and the Conde B. McCullough Memorial Bridge to the South, there are pine trees and other varieties that surround the park. The sand is dry in the summer, in the winter because of the numerous storms that come in the sand is wet, when you ride on the wet sand it is almost like driving on pavement.  Even in winter, filming at Box Car Campground is not difficult, it may rain in the early morning, by 11AM the sun is out and the conditions are perfect for shooting whatever scene you need to do.  For more information about Boxcar Hill Campground call 541 751 0001 or 855 751 0001.

The town of North Bend and Coos Bay is several miles south of Box Car Campground, it is a small seaside town where everyone knows each other, the locals brag they have the best seafood on the Oregon coast. For seafood try Chuck’s Seafood 541 888 5525 or Coney Station 541 269 6948, both get excellent ratings on Yelp.  At the Mill Casino and RV Park (800 953 4800) which is the best place to lodge your crew there are several restaurants including the Saw Blade Buffet which is only opened on Friday and Saturday evenings has a delectable choice of various American dishes including seafood for $25 per person.  At the Whitecaps restaurant you can have a big steak dinner with seating overlooking the bay.  For BBQ try the Warehouse 101 bar and grill, I had some baby-back ribs and it was the best ribs I ever had in a while, the coleslaw and baked beans were good too. The Mill Casino has a large parking lot which is great when you have a large contingency of trucks, honey wagons, motor homes, etc.  The RV Park was easy to navigate my forty-foot motor home, there is a large laundry room, and since it is connected to the casino you have free access to the pool and WiFi.  If you want to gamble there are plenty of slot machines or gaming tables that would love to take your money.  There is a Safeway in North Bend, inside is a Starbucks, a hardware store, and a mall with a movie theatre, matinee shows are $6.50 for adults or $8.50 for prime time, a bargain as far as I am concerned. In addition, there are other restaurants, lodging and plenty of fuel stations that sell diesel and gasoline. If you have any questions about this location or other locations in Oregon or if you need a motor home call me Mike Green at 541 619 3934 or 818 317 7099.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Red Rock Park in Colorado-A great place to film

It is 4:30 in the morning as the production trucks idle in the parking lot of our hotel the Denver Marriot West, the location managers car moves forward and we have a convoy about ten vehicles in all.  My motor home is in the rear, as usual, the lead car gets in the “zone” and I find myself on my own; fortunately I know where I am going.   (Red Rock was only twenty minutes from our hotel, it very easy to find, take I-70 west, exit 259, left at C-470 and drive about a mile and the entrance to the park is on the right.)  It was still dark when I arrived at the dirt parking lot, I found a flat place to park the RV, drop the jacks, opened the four slide-outs, I was opened for business. I had one of the PA’s drive me to the location which was about five minutes away next to the Amphitheater parking lot.  It is a process setting up for a shot, especially when you are trying to get the talent in the right position for the right light.  Red Rock Park with its steep canyon walls, amazing vistas and wild life, provided the perfect backdrop for the vehicles and the models we were filming.

Since we were so close to our hotel, we were able to break up the day so that we would get the perfect sunrise shot and the perfect sunset shot. Around ten we broke for the morning portion and returned to the hotel to get so much needed rest, I took a swim in the pool and then a nap around 3pm we returned to Red Rock Park. Our hotel was the Denver Marriot West (303 279 9100), located in Golden, Colorado.  The Marriot was clean, the rooms were spacious with high speed WiFi, coffee maker, hair dryers and more.  Even our high end clients were happy with the accommodations. Another bonus, there is a mall nearby that has a Whole Foods Market, Super Walmart, Safeway, Target and other stores within a couple of miles of the Marriot.  I found a dump station and fuel at the Flying J in Aurora, Colorado near Denver (303) 366 7600) about twenty east of the Marriot.

Red Rock Park is located about thirty minutes north east of Denver, it is one of my favorite new locations.  In many ways it reminds me of Vasquez Rocks, made of sand stone from the Quaternary periodRed Rock Park is made of red sandstone and was formed over 290 million years ago when the ancestral Rocky Mountains was eroded.  What makes this such a great location is the rock formation, it is such an amazing back drop, as much as I like Vasquez Rocks, Red Rock has many more options, and is four times larger than Vasquez, of course you will have to travel to Colorado to enjoy Red Rock Park.  With that indicated; Colorado now has a film incentive program available for eligible films, television, commercials and game productions for more information call the Colorado Office of Film Television & Media at 303 892 3840.  If you have any questions and you need a motor home call me Mike Green at 818 317 7099 I will be glad to assist you.