It rained the day before, the roads were still wet as the sun slowly merged from the cloud laden sky. I kept one eye on the road, the other eye on my GPS, the directions were complicated, one wrong turn and I would be searching for a turn out. Fortunately for me I did my research the day before, I knew where I was going, a tiny Chinese town founded in 1915 in the heart of the Sacramento Delta. This was the first time I did a shoot in the Delta, the roads are narrow, the two bridges I crossed was just wide enough and tall to navigate my forty foot RV over it. It took me two hours to get there from Oakland, I was early, the rest of the crew did not arrive until an hour and half latter; they were delayed by one of the drawbridges. I latter discovered an easier way to Locke, minus the scary roads and the bridges that made me want to say, “Hail Mary.”
Locke is a small Chinese town founded in 1915 after a fire broke out in the nearby town of Walnut Grove. Since Chinese Americans were banned from ownership of land at the time, they approached George Locke if they could build on his property. Locke catered to farm workers and residents who lived nearby. Very little has changed in this town, the main boardwalk looks like it did in 1915, and a small population still resides in Locke. On weekends the town is bustling with tourist who search out the many bargains and unique gifts one could only find in this place. At night one can enjoy a drink at one of the bars. Across the street is a boat launch, so if you are ambitious and you own a boat, this is the perfect place to stop and enjoy a brew.
What I like about this location is it offers something unique that you cannot find at San Francisco’s Chinatown, an authentic Chinese village from a bygone era. A place one can utilize various backgrounds that are colorful and engaging, a boardwalk that beckons to be photographed. Another plus, since this is a state park, it is an inexpensive location to obtain a film permit. During the week is the best time to shoot at this location, the crowds are small or non-existent. Weekends Locke is crowded with tourist, therefore I would not try to film during those times.
For large vehicles from San Francisco, take the I-80 east to I-5 South and exit Twin Cities Road and go right. At highway 13 go left, at Locke Road go left. This is not the fastest route to Locke, however, in my opinion this is the best directions. There is a parking lot that I was easily able to navigate my motor home into and room for other crew members cars or trucks.
If you are going to do multiple days at this location, Sacramento is the closest place to base yourself at. In Lodi, there is a Flying J that has a dump station and fuel for large trucks and motor homes. There are plenty of lodging and restaurants options in Sacramento and you won’t have the two and half hour commute to San Francisco. If you have any questions about this locations or if you need an RV, call me Mike Green at 415.730.7127.