Friday, March 23, 2012

Magic Mountain-A great place to do your next film or photo shoot

Dear Reader,

Two years ago one of my favorite clients asked me if I was game to do a photo shoot in Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita, about an hour north of Los Angeles.  Magic Mountain is one of my favorite amusement parks in Southern California; I was there when it opened on May 29th 1971.  Back then the park had only 33 rides; the Newhall Pass was a mess because of the February 9th Sylmar Earthquake.  For a lad such as I of ten years old this place was awesome; I have been there numerous times since that day and watch the park evolve into one of the best rollercoaster amusement parks in the Southland. 

I assumed that I would park the RV in the main parking lot, but I was informed that I would be driving the motor home directly into Magic Mountain.  Mind you, the roads are narrow designed for pedestrian’s not large vehicles like our convoy of trucks, generators and my RV, I drove slow and watched our lead car weave in and out of obstacles until we arrived at our staging area.  During the fall, winter and spring months and non-holiday periods MM is closed during the week, and is available for filming.  One cannot expect the same from places like Disney Land or Knox Berry Farm, so our crew had the park for itself.  The park was like a ghost town, the rides stood still, the streets empty, void of people, it was a cold crisp day in January, and the sky was clear and blue.

Our site rep for the park was helpful and bought in a Skelton crew to run some of the rides we would need for our shoot.  We bought in our own cater because as I indicated the park is closed and therefore the restaurants would be unavailable.  Since there would not be any guest at Magic Mountain we had a ton of extras to simulate a busy amusement park.  MM is an amazing place to film because there is so much to see, from the rollercoasters, the arcade, the water rides, the petting zoo, the Sky Tower, which gives viewers a 360 degree view of the Santa Clarita Valley.

Shooting during the summer or on holidays might be more difficult to obtain permission, but not impossible.  The weather is more pleasant during the cooler months; in the summer temperatures can exceed 90 degrees.  If your project requires an amusement park Magic Mountain (661.255.4103) is the place, for the film permit call Film LA at 213.977.8600.  If you need a motor home or if you have any questions please call me Mike Green at 818.317.7099.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Frazier Park-A stand-in for the Swiss Alps or the Old South

Dear Reader,

In 1988 on my way back from San Francisco I discovered an alpine town off of Interstate 5 on top of what is called the Grape Vine. A winding pass that snacks north into the San Joaquin Valley; at times a treacherous road because of ice and snow in the winter and extreme heat in the summer.  Take the Frazier Park exit and head west past the Flying J, and the assortment of gas stations and fast food restaurants.  There is a flashing red light, turn right and you are now in the town of Frazier Park, a city that was incorporated in 1925.  The current population is 2,691; in the early morning commuters travel down Frazier Park Road either north to Bakersfield less than an hour or an hour and a half to two hours to Los Angeles.

Many of us who grew up in the 1970’s knowing Frazier Mountain as “Walton’s Mountain” in the TV show of the same name “The Walton’s”.  This was a fact I learned researching for this blog.  Frazier Park has not changed much since the 1920’s, the population is bigger, yet main street is the same, two lumber yards, a couple of thrift stores, Caveman Pizza 661.245.1474 (my favorite pizza place), two insurance companies, a bank, Sheriff sub-station, Kern County Fire Department, a market, gas station & mini-mart and other businesses.  A short ten minute walk and one can cover downtown Frazier Park.

What makes FP, the perfect place for a shoot is because it could stand in for a southern town, in winter an alpine village, it is non-descriptive place which is added bonus, it is not an over used location.  A park with a pond with resident ducks and geese, across the street is a new library.  There is a new Holiday Inn Express (661.248.1600) ten minutes away in Lebec, a Flying J for fuel with a dump station and a mini-mart, with a Denny’s and a Motel 6. 

When winter storms blow through the area, which happens sporadically, FP turns white, kids play in the snow and even the young at heart join in a snow fight.  The diversity of Frazier Park makes it an ideal place to film, if one continues to travel west on Frazier Park Road, the trees become denser, the elevation gets higher and soon you arrive in Pine Mountain Club the Beverly Hills of the area.  There is a small golf course, a pond and lots of high-end cabin type homes, a grocery mart and numerous real estate offices.  Pine Mountain usually gets more snow than FP because of the elevation and the way storms pass through.  PM is more rustic; it has a larger population and a different look than Frazier Park.  I like PMC because it is off the radar screen for most location managers, most have never heard of it, it has a lot more vegetation than Frazier Park, more homes and it can stand in for places like Virginia or the Rockies or an Alpine Village in the Swiss Alps.

FP is about an hour and half from greater Los Angeles in Kern County, as I indicated there are many lodging options including the Ramada Limited at the bottom of the Grape Vine in Lebec (661.248.1530).  There are also a Bread and Breakfast lodge called the Old Bear Bed & Breakfast (661.242.1622) if you want a down home type of experience.  Big Johns (661.245.2292) is my favorite place for an old fashion country meal.  With that said the food and the lodging in Frazier Park is something that you would fine in the South or the Mid-West, this is what makes this place so special.  If you have any questions about Frazier Park or the Mountain Community or if you need a motor home call me Mike Green at 818 317 7099, I will be glad to help you.