The sun was slowly rising above the sand dunes in Glamis, California. At first all I saw were silhouettes of grey mountains in the distance. An orange mystical sun was rising above the mammoth dunes. The highway in front of me was eerie and silent void without any vehicles. Then suddenly the sun rose and I could see the beauty of Glamis.
I turned down the main road to the parking lot. Soon our caravan of cars, trucks, trailers arrived turning a once vacant parking lot into our base camp. I positioned my motor home along the fence and open the four slide-outs. In five minutes I was opened for business. The clothing stylist bought in wardrobe for the shoot, the make-up and hair stylist prep their make-up/hair tables. Production bought in their printers, paper work and computers. I grabbed some tables and chairs from the motor homes basement and set it up for the crew. Everyone has a job on set. A set can look like a lot of confusion to those who do not work in the entertainment industry. The people who work in this business are professionals; they work fast and efficient. The days can be long and arduous and big budget feature films can take years to complete. Photo shoots and commercials are as little as one day or as long five or more days. The longest photo shoot I ever worked on was for five weeks, a car shoot for a German manufacturer.
Working at a place like Glamis requires the right vehicles to traverse the dunes, a 4 X 4 truck or even a jeep would be no match for the soft sand. What ones needs is a four-person sand rail or a four-person side-by-side ATV. Fortunately Willies Off Road 760-257-3734 or 760-953-3303 provides the vehicles and the experience drivers who know how to navigate the dunes. Willie experience with Klamath and Dumont Dunes is undisputed; this man knows all the tricks in soft sand driving. He can bring a crew and their equipment all most anywhere they need to go to get the right shot. A photo shoot does not require the amount of equipment and person power that a large film crew would require. The producer only bought to set the core group he needed for the shot, they used Go Pros for the action shots that would be used on the Internet. Canon 1D (full frame DSLR camera) were mounted on the sand rail for the action shots. This was a photo shoot for a shoe company, so the spotlight was on the young twenty something’s wearing the shoes and having fun. The pace of the photo shoot was fast; the right light was vital to the look of the shot. People were running in and out of the RV. A small craft food table was set up next the RV; crewmembers grab some food off the table as they ran to set. I kept the coffee coming; since it was so early the crew appreciated the jolt of caffeine to keep them awake.
Glamis is about thirty minutes east of Brawley in Imperial County or about two hours from Palm Springs. The town of Brawley is the best place to lodge and feed a crew of any size. Brawley is not Palm Springs; there are no malls or high-end restaurants. For lodging there is the Best Western 760 351 9800, this motel is nice, the rooms are spacious, the décor is acceptable and the staff friendly. There is adequate parking for large vehicles at the Best Western. There is the Brawley Inn Hotel and Conference Center (866-599-6674) that is a step above the Best Western, we did not stay at the Brawley, therefore I cannot make any comments about this hotel. In terms of restaurant options you are limited to Nana Dora’s Restaurant, Tai San Chinese, Brownie’s Diner, Johnny’s Burritos and few other establishments. There is a Vons Supermarket in Brawley, which can serve your craft service needs. For fuel there are several gas stations in town. Since I was only in Brawley for one day, I did not need to service my holding tanks until I got to Mecca, California at the ARCO Truck Stop. However according to RV Dump Sites there is suppose to be a dump station on I-8 at the Sunbeam Rest Area (north and south).
We were finished by two in the afternoon; it took about a half hour to clear the lot. This was a two-day shoot; our next location was near Big Bear the next day. It took about two hours to get to Cabazon, the place we lodge at for the night. What I like about Glamis is, the easy access to the Dunes. Dumont Dunes which is also about four hours from Los Angeles, there is a rough road to access the dunes, one has to drive slow unless you have a 4 X 4 vehicle. Glamis, the roads are paved and it is easy parking large vehicles without getting stuck. Glamis, is substantially massive in terms of square miles than Dumont. As long as the non-off road vehicles stay in the parking lot, there is little chance that one is going to get their cars or trucks stuck in the sand. Glamis is about a half hour from Brawley, which means your crew does not have to travel very far back to town on multiple day shoots. Sheri Davis (951 779 6700) or Dan Taylor (951 232 1271) at the Inland Empire Film Commission can handle your film permits and help you find local crews and support equipment. If you need a motor home, portable restrooms or you have any questions about Glamis please feel free to contact me Mike Green at 818 317 7099.