It is late afternoon on a sunny day in May in the Mojave dessert; I am traveling up the Chiriaco Pass just east of Indio on Interstate 10. It is 101 degrees in the shade, I have to go easy on the accelerator, I do not want to push the engine and over heat it. My destination is a few miles away, a lonely road that time forgot, Pinto Road; surrounded by sage brush, mountains, rattle snacks, jack rabbits and host of bugs that love to fly in your face. Pinto Road is the perfect place to shoot a road that few cars ever venture on, mainly because the road does not exist. There are no signs for Pinto Road; I had to use my iPhone to locate it once I got off of Cotton Spring Road. Pinto road is dirt at first, at least for a quarter of a mile, then it is paved before it is becomes dirt road again just past the bridge. I found the perfect place to park my motor home, flat and out of the way, big enough to accommodate ten to fifteen vehicles. On Cottonwood Spring road, just to the west there is a pull out to park another twenty vehicles.
I get calls from Clients all the time regarding lonely dessert roads to shoot at; the problem is if it is a maintained road that the public has access to, one has to pay for local police or the highway patrol to block the street. This can be very expensive, especially if you have a modest budget. Not the case if the road abandoned and the county does not maintain such road, all you need is a film permit and a certificate of insurance, (this may vary from city to city or county to county and size of crew).
I was working on a night shoot, we had a couple of hours to set up the generators and lights, position the car for the shot and get the talent ready. As the sun slowly started to set, the pace of the crew pick up, stingers were everywhere, 5K and 10K lights seem to come out of Joshua Trees. The AD was screaming some incoherent instruction, as the actors were whisked out of the motor home and onto set. By 4am we were finished for the night. In thirty minutes; everyone was gone except for me, I decided to crash for a few hours, I was dead tired.
What makes Pinto Road so perfect for shooting is most people do not know the road exist, unless you have a good map or an iPhone. Pinto Road runs along I-10 on the south side of the freeway, I assume at some point before I-10 was built this was the main road to Arizona. Indio, the nearest town is about thirty minutes from Pinto, and Palm Springs is about an hour west. Though one might think you are in the middle of nowhere, you are very close to restaurants, grocery stores and lodging. One of my favorite places is the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino (760.342.5000) because it has plenty of parking for vehicles of all sizes including large trucks and motor homes, fine dining and a pool to relax in after a long day of shooting. The Best Western Date Tree Hotel 760.347.3421 is another place to stay at for the night(s), high speed Internet, comfortable beds, and a free breakfast. In Indio, there is a TA Truck stop for fuel for both cars and trucks, off of I-10 on Dillon Road (760.342.6200). The nearest dump station is at the Flying J in Thousand Palms (760.343.1500). If you need a film permit call Sheri Davis at the Inland Film Commission at (909.888.9011) And if you have any questions and you need motor homes, portable restrooms or help finding this location or other locations, call me Mike Green at 818.317.7099.