Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tejon Ranch-A great place to do your next film shoot, commercial or TV show

Dear Reader,

It is early morning; the ground is covered in fresh snow about two inches deep.  The air is still; it is about thirty-one degrees outside.  As I exit my motor home I hear the crunching sound of new snow under my hiking boots.  I look wearily up at the sky; another storm is about to hit the valley, perfect conditions to do a fashion photo shoot at the lake. 

This is not Lake Tahoe or Mammoth Mountain; this is the Tejon Ranch about ninety minutes north of Los Angeles.  Tejon Ranch is the largest ranch in California.  It is so big there can be five big budget features filming at the same time with zero encroachment from the other sets.  T.R. has an interesting topography, from Mountains that are over five thousand feet high to the desert. 

Tejon Ranch has four seasons; in the fall the air can be crisp and cool, as winter nears, the area can see snow and rain.  The mountain can turn from green to white in a few minutes, though unlike the mid west, the snow only sticks around for a couple of days.  In late spring the ranch is covered in poppy flowers in hues of red and orange. The summer turns the green grass to brown; it can get warm the upper eighties or low nineties, rarely reaching a hundred. 

In my tenure traveling to the Tejon Ranch, for photo shoots, commercials and music videos, I have to admit I have not been to all the places on the ranch.  This is good thing, it means there are a lot of options and any time of the year gives TR something that few locations can give, a different look.  My clients have never been disappointed with the ranch.  The staff, Stephanie 661-248-6890 and Debbie Gabel 661-248-6890 is well season curators for the Tejon Ranch, they know what crews need and want.  Plus they are extremely helpful and knowledgeable about the T.R. and all of the locations inside this massive ranch. 

One of the reasons I like working at the Tejon Ranch beyond the beauty of the property is one is still close enough to Los Angles that if a PA needs to run dailies back to the studio, it is generally less than 90 minutes commute back.  For truckers and other large equipment, there are several trucks stops both at the bottom and the top of the “Vine” that sell diesel, DEF, propane and gasoline.  At the Flying J there is a RV dump station, something that I find very useful on long jobs.  Another bonus there is a truck & RV wash at the bottom of the “Vine” 661 858 2090.  This is a ranch and a lot of the roads are not paved, keep that in mind before you decide to drive an expensive vehicle on these roads.

Depending where you are shooting on the ranch, Bakersfield is only about thirty minutes away with numerous restaurants.  However after a long day you might want to eat someplace close to your hotel.  Depending if you are lodging at the bottom of the Grape Vine (near I-5) or Lebec, which is the top of the “Vine”, there are some wonderful options for food.  If you are at the bottom and you need a Starbucks fix, 5844 Dennis Mccarthy Dr, Lebec (661-858-2034). Just keep in mind that if you think you can run in Starbucks for a quick cup of coffee, this is one of the busiest in the US, you might have to wait.  The plus side there is a drive thru.  For breakfast or any meal there is the reliable and always good 24-Hour Denny’s (9046 Grapevine Rd E, Lebec 661-248-3409).  One of my favorite places for Mexican food is Don Perico (9021 Grapevine Rd W, Lebec 661 248-6903), the food is awesome and drinks are even better.  Of course for fast food there is the Panda Inn Express, McDonalds, Iron Skillet Restaurant and other eateries.  This is a major rest stop for weary road travelers; that traverse up and down I-5 and Hwy 99.  You will not find any high-end restaurants; you will find food that won’t kill you anytime soon.  At top of the Grape Vine your choices are similar, a Denny’s next to the Flying J, Los Pinos Mexican Restaurant 133 Frazier Mountain Park Rd, Lebec (661-248-1148), Quiznos Subs 201 Frazier Mountain Park Rd, Lebec (661-248-6200) and my favorite pizza place period, Caveman Pizza 3620 Mt Pinos Way, Frazier Park (661-245-1474).  The pepperoni pizza is my favorite.    

Regarding lodging if you are at the bottom of the Grape Vine there is the Microtel Inn & Suites 661-241-6666.  I stayed at this hotel, the staff is friendly, and the rooms are nice; the Inn has free continental breakfast, a parking lot next to the hotel for large vehicles.  There is a truck stop nearby that sells diesel and gas, no dump station.  The Microtel is less than a year old; therefore it has a lot of nice modern updates, like free Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs in every room, a lounge that is sophisticated with plenty of seating for impromptu meetings.  Also at the bottom of the “Vine” is the Ramada Limited Lebec 661-248-1530, this is an older hotel, that before the Microtel was built it was the only option.  The rooms are nice and clean; my clients like the Ramada, though I would rather stay at the Microtel because it is newer and is more upscale, plus there is more parking for the large trucks and motor homes.  At the top of the Grape Vine there is the Holiday Inn Express 661-248-1600, this was opened several years ago, so it is new, the rooms are spacious and you get free continental breakfast.  There is plenty of parking for all sizes of vehicles and you are only minutes from the main gate at the Tejon Ranch.  For budget minded crews there is the Motel 6 (661-248-6625). This is the best Motel 6 I ever stayed at, part of the reason is, it was once a different motel, owned by the Flying J, the rooms are really nice, there is a huge parking lot and the rates are extremely reasonable. In added plus, there is a Flying J and a Denny’s on the same lot.  You are only minutes to the main entrance to the ranch. 

This is my favorite ranch in Southern California, there are so many places to film at Tejon Ranch; one cannot go wrong.  If you have any questions or you need a local motor home, and someone who really knows this place, feel free to call me Mike Green at 818 317 7077.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Dalles in Oregon; A great place to do your next film, commercial or photo shoot

Dear Reader,

It has been a couple of years since I have been to The Dalles, about a hundred miles east of Portland, Oregon.  The first time I was there was in 2005 on a Ford commercial, we stayed at the Shilo Inn (541) 298-5502.  It is a decent no thrills Inn, plenty of parking for large vehicles, next to a 24 hour Chevron station that sells diesel and gasoline.  The best rooms are the ones that over look the river.  I found the staff friendly, but they are not use to large groups checking in; our producer got frustrated a few times because the staff got overwhelmed with changes in rooms that often occur with large productions.

The Dalles was use as our staging area, we drove to Wasco on our second day, about forty-five minutes southeast of The Dalles. Wasco is a small town with a library, liquor store and a few other stores.  What is amazing about Wasco and the surrounding towns, miles and miles of wheat, corns fields and other crops, with hues of golden brown blowing in the wind with white windmills darting the landscape like trees. At night the only thing you see are red lights blinking from the windmills and thousands of stars.   

The Dalles is interesting town, there is the Dulles Dam, the largest hydroelectric power plant in the United States tours are available at the visitor center.  From the Shilo Inn there is a good view of the dam, some assorted crumbling buildings and the The Dalles steel cantilever truss bridge which crosses over to the Columbia River.  Personally I think the view of the Columbia River from the Shilo Inn is a great place to do a photo shoot at, an added bonus you won’t have the leave the parking lot.  

The Dalles has the cheapest cab fare in Oregon, Five Dollar Taxi 541.926.7272, charges only $5.00 anywhere in the city, that is a bargain.  I took the cab to find an RV dump station that I discovered using, a web site that I employ for finding dump stations when I travel.  It was not an easy site to navigate a large forty foot motor home. I had to go wide and then back up to get the right pivot point.  The cost is reasonable $3.00.  To get to the Dalles dump station from the Shilo Inn, take I-84 west, exit West Dalles (2nd Exit), right at Webber Street.  Webber will turn into River Road as it veers to the left, at Kindt Drive make a right, the dump station will be on the left about a mile down.

The Dalles is centrally located next to numerous locations that producers like to shoot at, including Mayer State Park.  Mayer offers a great view of the Columbia River and it has a large parking area for crew parking, it is only minutes from The Dalles.  The Rowena Crest Viewpoint, this look out point offers a great view of Columbia gorge and the surrounding valley.  I have been to this location numerous times on different photo shoots and commercials.  There are two ways to get there, the best way to get there from The Dalles is to take I-84 west, exit 76 towards Rowena.  Turn left at U.S. 30 W/1st Ave and follow U.S. 30 and travel 2.6 miles to the Rowena Crest Viewpoint/Tom McCall Trail on the right.

If you are planning on filming in the Columbia gorge and the surrounding area please call me if you have any questions or if you need a motor home at 541 619 3934 or 818 317 7099.

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