Usually I write about locations that are awesome to film in. Today I want to talk about cities that are very to hard to obtain film permits in a timely manner, difficult rules for parking or navigating to such locations. The worst place to film in California is Culver City, the home of Sony Sudios. Not only does the Culver City PD expect commercial drivers to go on their web site to determine the most direct route to their location, they will fine the driver for the most frivolous offences. Most of the major streets are off limits to commercial vehicles like Washington Bl or Washington Place, Culver Blvd, Overland, Jefferson Blvd and other streets. The exception, local deliveries. I am not sure why Culver City PD would not classify trucks, trailers and motor homes as "local deliveries", they are there for one reason, to serve a specific production, for a specific time period in CC. The entertainment industry provides jobs to the city, both directly and indirectly. I cringe when I have to work in CC, I even add an admendment to my contract that my client will pay for all tickets and fines associated with this job in regards to Culver City. So far I have been lucky. I am not sure why Culver City PD does not like the entertainment industry. Los Angeles has a specific police department dedicated to the film industry, that provides cops for film shoots. In fact LA is one of most friendliest places to film in, there are plenty of parking lots, one call to Film LA and you obtain film permits, locations and a monitor. The fees to film in Culver City are some of the highest in Southern California. Unless you are shooting at Sony, pick another city or studio, cross off Culver City for any potential shoots.
Pasadena is another city that is very expensive to film, the permits are some of the highest in LA county. Parking is extremely difficult, most streets are off limits to production vehicles. If you need old homes, pick Hancock Park (Los Angeles), the homes date back to the 1920's and the streets are wide and very friendly to productions. I have lost more jobs because of Pasadena strict parking requirements, which I feel is unfair to the entertainment industry which benifits the economy of Pasadena.
The town of Adelanto near Victorville, is the last place anyone should ever consider doing any filming, or lodging your crew. Though it is very close to El Mirage Dry Lakebed, Adelanto is not very safe, vehicles are prone to breakins at the The Days Inn, despite the fact that the Days Inn is next to the police station. Nearby Victorville, is a better place to lodge your crew, there are better restaurants and shopping centers. There is a truck stop in Adelento that sells, gas, diesel and has a dump station, that for me is the only reason I would travel to Adelento.
Bombay Beach on the east side of the Salton Sea, looks innocent, but it isn't. A lot of felons live in this area. At one time, next to the abandoned marina, it was a nice place to shoot at, because there were a lot of old trailered there, today there is nothing. If you choose to shoot at Bombay, leave before night fall and hire a security team to protect your set.
Oakland, San Leandro and Richmond, San Francisco, California are other places to avoid. Criminals are so brazen that they will walk on set and demand your valuables. I am not saying all of Oakland or San Francisco is bad, just some places are bad. You will want to hire both armed and unarmed guards to protect your crew. Also don't leave valuables in your vehicles.
It is always a good idea not to leave camera equipment or other valuables in your vehicles. It is also a good idea to hire security to watch your crew and equipment, especially at night at any town or hotel. I do not mean to put down any city and there are other cities I could have included in my list. I would love to hear from my audience about their horror stories. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with your experiences.