For this month’s location spotlight, we’re going back to school—but it’s not the sort of school I recall; no dingy hallways, mustard yellow lockers, or chain link fences. No, this is a different sort of campus all together, this month we’re highlighting one of the most beautiful campuses in Santa Barbara County; the illustrious Cate School.
Nestled on a ridge in the Carpinteria Foothills, this stunning campus boasts views of unspoiled green and tan mountains to one side and one hundred and eighty degrees of the coastline, blue Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands to the other. Cate is comprised of a number of administrative buildings and buildings housing classrooms which date to the 1920s and were built in the Colonial-Monterey style. As well, the campus features a period chapel from the early 1970’s done in an austere and very clean concrete, with flying buttresses and a wall of stain glass in geometric patterns that shout “70s”!
Cate has not one but two gymnasiums, one dating from the 60’s with a great period scoreboard, and the other a huge building with all of the modern sports elements that one would find in even a small University. Finally, there is a swimming pool, track, and even a state of the art theatre. Cate is particularly interested in filming or still shoots which may occur during the Summer season. Click on the slideshow below to see photos from Cate School.
There are some things in the world which seem to be inexhaustible in supply; plastic water bottles, Prius owners in Santa Barbara, the Kardashians, and Christmas movies. Yes, Christmas movies. Like Christmas itself, every year, there’s a new Christmas movie trying to reinvent a simple yet enduring idea–that it’s fun to give and receive, accrue credit card debt, and reignite loving family debates over who was responsible for that dent on Dad’s Honda back in 1998.
Because there will always be Christmas, and therefore always Christmas movies, there will always be a need for a great CHRISTMAS MOVIE LOCATION! With that, I’d like to suggest beautiful Solvang, in the Santa Ynez Valley which is one of the prettiest little towns you’ll ever see, and a wonderful location for “Christmas Story 2”, or perhaps even a Christmas inspired catalog shoot. Friendly locals, ample production services,and a relatively short drive from Los Angeles; it’s a wonderful place to shoot. You can view some photos of Solvang in the gallery below.
The last days of summer have slipped through our fingers. In fact, these last few days it has seemed that summer has been hanging on with all her power, hammering us with ninety and one hundred plus degree temperatures, and does anyone know a good AC repair guy, because my air conditioning unit had a nervous breakdown..
As I was thinking about the most appropriate locations update for the Summer Round-Up, and I was considering mansions, and farmhouses, and wineries, and Spanish architecture, and roads, and airports, etc., etc., it came to me like a bolt of ocean blue; what better way to go out from the summer than with a gallery of some of our most beautiful beaches, because, sometimes folks need to be reminded.
In fact we have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, some of the safest beaches (Carpinteria is one of the safest in the U.S.), beaches with incredible homes, beaches with nothing at all for as far as the eye can see, even beaches where you can drive a vehicle on the sand. Really, with approximately a hundred and twenty miles of coastline, our wealth of beaches is almost embarrassing.
Here’s a very small sample gallery of some of the beautiful beaches of Santa Barbara County.
For more options, please take a look at the “Beaches” section of our online Photo Library.
This month, it’s going to be a “bonus” approach to the locations item—instead of introducing just one location, you’ll get two! First, a classic Santa Ynez Valley Ranch with fantastic roads, both paved and dirt, a classic workshop, and iconic oaks and fields. Gainey Ranch, off of Refugio Road offers eighteen hundred acres of fields, trees, seasonal streams, and crops under cultivation. Gainey Ranch is a great place to shoot your next truck or ATV commercial, and also offers a pretty stunning paved entry way into the Gainey tasting room. The ranch manager there has handled a good number of productions in recent years and understands the logistical needs of shoots and is great to work with. Enjoy this picture gallery of Gainey Ranch:
Since we’re already out in the country, it’s thematically appropriate to let you know about a really distinctive and striking residential property, the “Pioneer Ranch” log cabin home. This home was featured on HGTV for its incredible exterior and interior design, blending a reminiscent pioneer spirit on the exterior with a wildly imaginative interior that literally features a tree in the center of the entry area, amazing river rock fireplaces throughout, and whimsical design touches around every corner. The property features great dirt roads, rolling hills, oaks, and outbuildings in the same log cabin “frontier” style. Outbuildings include a one bedroom cottage and storage area. Shoot inside or out, either way it will be memorable! Click here to see an online gallery of this Buellton home.
Typically, in the Location Spotlight, I will feature a new location as a way to introduce a diversity of Santa Barbara County properties, architecture, and public and private land to industry personnel. However, this time, I'm going to do something a little different and a little bit special. The Santa Barbara County Film Commission recently hosted an exhaustive two-night, three-day FAM for a great group of location scouts, photographers and producers. First, we covered grand estates in Montecito, and did the Santa Barbara Waterfront and downtown architecture by pedicab-during which we toured such architectural landmarks as Meridian Studios, the Courthouse, and the Arlington Theatre. After a great dinner at Municipal Winemakers, hosted by the Oceana Hotel, we spent a night out in the Santa Ynez Valley and North County where we toured farms, country estates, vineyards, and roads. Yep, we saw it all. Many thousands of photos were shot, and many thousands of calories consumed in this epic Santa Barbara County Tour. I look forward to seeing the FAM participants back in Santa Barbara County-with crews in tow. Big thanks to the Oceana Hotel, Municipal Winemakers, Fire and Ice Catering, the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott, the Hitching Post, and El Rancho Marketplace for sponsoring and supporting this FAM and recognizing the value that media production brings to Santa Barbara County!
Typically, the location item section of the newsletterfeatures incredible outdoor vistas, gardens, beaches, mansions, custom homeswhich are works of art in their own right. This month, though, through the magic of high speed digital information technology, a location which has thecapacity to offer many locations in one: Ampersand Studios.
Located in convenient, downtown Santa Barbara, AmpersandStudios is a full service HD broadcast stage which provides multi cameraproduction, editing services, and a live and real time digital video deliveryservice which rivals satellite performance at far less than satellite deliverycosts. The studio is staffed by a professional and welcoming crew with years ofexperience in broadcast and a welcoming attitude and commitment to a stressfree and smooth running environment. The television live shot insert enabledfacility offers high quality lighting and a wide variety of customizablevirtual sets with some really stunning background views of Santa Barbara asoptions!
The technology has come an incredible distance in a veryshort period of time, providing opportunities for quality broadcast whichsimply didn’t exist a few years ago, and Ampersand is on the cutting edge of thismore approachable, and affordable, technology. Check it out: http://ampersandstudiossb.com
This month we are taking a look at a great new location in the City of Santa Barbara, The Butler Events Center. The 6,000 feet of interior space can be configured to all sorts of photo shoot options and Butler's sister business, the nearby Marmalade Café can handle extensive catering needs. The space contains restaurant elements, which could be useful to a production's creative needs, as well as two ballrooms and outdoor areas. The Butler Event Center is located in the Upper State Street area of Santa Barbara and is also a fantastic venue for press conferences and media events. Click here to take a look at the Butler Event Center Slideshow. If you would like to contact the owner please email Warren@butlereventscenter.com.
Reminiscent of the Italian countryside, this estate features a main residence designed by internationally renowned architect Kristo Stamatovski of Studio K Architects, who was featured in the Spring 2010 Luxe Magazine. This 7,500 square-foot custom home, with 5 bedrooms and 7 baths, is an architectural masterpiece, providing ‘Old World' Tuscan ambiance with stunning Stamatovski design capturing light, and opening to vistas at every turn.
Bella Toscana would be a fantastic location for catalog fashion shoots, jewelry, perfume, automobile print, or any other campaign which is looking for a visually stunning melding of architecture, impeccable landscape, and unparalleled natural views. Please click here to see more pictures of Bella Toscana.
After the FAM had ended and word traveled, I received a number of emails expressing disappointment from folks who had been unaware of or were unable to attend the FAM. Although it would have been great to have everyone who expressed interest come along, they do say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I have put together a gallery of some of the FAM highlights, which should be worth approximately twenty seven thousand words. Enjoy!
Typically, when folks think of shooting here in Santa Barbara County, it's all about the unspoiled natural terrain, world class beaches, eye popping estates and incredible architecture, you know, outside. However, there are some gems in this town that you need to go inside for, and this month I am happy to feature two incredible assets here in the City of Santa Barbara.
First, let's talk about Studio 240, a newly launched, full service Commercial Production Studio in downtown Santa Barbara. At 3,300 square feet of space, with a huge open floor plan, twenty foot ceilings, two separate twenty five foot shooting bays, and two make up stations, Studio 240 is a technologically up to the minute facility. The studio provides product photography with 360 degree capability, on and off model fashion photography, graphic design, digital imaging and more. For a great logistical set up, the studio also offers a private dressing room, Producers' office, client lounge, two professional garment steamers, rolling racks, fully equipped commercial kitchen, wireless and more.
This is a fantastic, local facility with a staff that is knowledgeable, helpful, and always comes with a proactive "can do" attitude. Located within convenient distance to downtown, the beach, and the freeway, Studio 240 is ready to service all of your studio needs and desires. To take a photographic tour of the facility, just click on this link and look at all the pictures! http://240studio.com/page.cfm?id=1
For our second interior Santa Barbara Location, you need to know about Playback Recording Studios. If the name sounds familiar, that's because I covered Tucker Bodine's audio fantasyland when he first launched a few years ago as a full service recording studio for music and media production. Now that Playback Recording's studio build out is complete it not only offers a great recording studio option, but also a highly creative visual palette for photo shoots.
If you are looking for a Rock N Roll FEEL for your next still shoot, take a look at the wild interiors which Tucker's design team have put together. This 4,200 square foot facility offers design that is dripping with an aggressive artist driven style, with radical geometric and randomized patterns, a lux color palette throughout and a variety of both modern and retro music and recording equipment setting the stage. Check the gallery photos featuring the Control Room, The Lounge, The Mirror Room, the Drum Room and more to get a sense of how great this place would be for your next fashion shoot.
I know what you're probably thinking; why is the Santa Barbara County Film Commission running pictures of Northern California roads? Considering that these pictures look like something from Big Sur or Mendocino, I can understand why you'd think such a thing. However, these phenomenal roads and vistas are located in beautiful Santa Barbara County and they are a dream come true for car and motorcycle shoots or any other project requiring unspoiled roads with views of the ocean, vast beaches, and dramatic rock formations.
While this government owned property has not been a very active filming location, due to a variety of restrictions, the Santa Barbara County Film Commission has been working towards creating a relationship that will allow for limited but consistent film projects. After recently scouting the facility and discussing increasing production at the facility, I am thrilled to be able to share some recent images of the area. In addition to the phenomenal roads and period-East-Coast-style mansion, the facility has the added benefit of being completely off-limits to outside traffic, which means that production companies will have the ability exert a much greater level of control over locations.
I am being a bit vague about this location but for good reason. Because of the sensitivity of the area, we must work to build the relationship in a positive and respectful direction, and that means that we help to filter requests and avoid overwhelming the location's representatives. If you are interested in what you see and would like to know more, I ask that you please run all requests through the Santa Barbara County Film Commission so that we can help to facilitate in a manner which will ensure the availability of this area for filming in the years to come.
Please view the representative gallery of pictures from the area in the slideshow below. I'm confident you will want to bring your next car, truck or motorcycle project here!
This New Year, I have decided that I will strive to make 2011 the year of the "New Look." It's not that Santa Barbara County's incredible natural vistas, beaches, winding roads, agricultural operations and stately mansions and gardens have changed, but the fact is, we have all that to offer and more! In the case of our currently featured location, "more" definitely applies.
Known as "The Glass House," this custom-built design is more a piece of high art than a simple domicile. With most of the exterior walls made of glass, the house has an aura of weightlessness, its roof appearing to be supported by an off-center wall presenting a seemingly impossible design. The house features a glass-walled garage which may contain any number of exotic sports cars on any given day and offers a glass ceiling as well. Extremely progressive, modern and clean design informs not only the design of the house, but the décor as well, with the furnishings and artwork all working together to make a statement that this house and its inhabitants are bold, inspired, and possessing of a high level of sophistication.
The glass house clearly lends itself to high-fashion catalog shoots, car commercials, music videos, and would play beautifully on screen in a feature film as the home of a wealthy art collector, villain, or celebrity. This I can guarantee; it is one of the most distinctive properties in California. For further information, please contact Ronnie Mellen at Santa Barbara Locations Services at 805.565.1562. As well, please note that the property is currently on the market.
Among the very attractive features on the ranch is a perfectly preserved family home built in the 1920s in a California Craftsman style, which is available for shooting and boasts high quality craftsmanship of another era. The home has wood wainscoting, small chandeliers and even a vintage, wooden bar. In addition to this, the front of the house looks out upon a seemingly endless expanse of green lawn, bordered by 100-year-old trees.
One of the favored spots for shooting projects on the ranch is the Dos Pueblos private beach. This is one of very few private beaches within literally a few minutes of downtown Santa Barbara and provides a wild and beautiful backdrop which is completely manageable and far from the overly curious, of particular benefit when shoots involve celebrity clients. There is ample parking adjacent to the beach for staging, and of course more room for parking above the beach on the ranch than anyone could ever need. The ranch also has a large number of structures in various stages of "weathering," including huge, open-floor workshops, outbuildings and even a vintage gas pumping station, all in a nineteen thirties style. Of course, beyond all this, the ranch offers thousands of acres of orchards all currently under cultivation.
Dos Pueblos is a great production location option with collaborative, creative owners and managers. If you would like to inquire into using the ranch as a location please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Normally, we would run an item in this section highlighting a Santa Barbara County Location. However, this month, ABC is asking for some help in putting out the word on a show they would like to shoot here in Santa Barbara. So, if you think you might benefit from the professional advice of a celebrity nanny and don’t mind going on television to get it, this is your chance!
Are your children driving you nuts?
Had enough sassy back talk, disrespect and shenanigans?
ABC is looking for families with children (toddlers to teens) to take part in the hit television series featuring Jo Frost, America’s #1 nanny!
OPEN CASTING CALL:
SATURDAY 5/1 @ 11am-6pm
Santa Barbara Fair & Expo
Earl Warren Showgrounds
Highway 101 at Las Positas Road
IF UNABLE TO MAKE THE OPEN CASTING CALL:
CALL SUPERNANNY CASTING AT 323-785-1051
OR E-MAIL SZELUFF@SHEDMEDIAUS.COM
For more information on Supernanny's presence in Santa Barbara and the upcoming casting call, you may visit http://www.sbparent.com/
For the first time, a stunning, vintage, Mission Canyon estate has become available for the purposes of filming. The original villa was built in the early 1900's and is a five-minute walk from the historic Mission Santa Barbara. It consists of 23 rooms, and almost 6000 s/f of dramatic living space within massive volumes enhanced by graceful architectural details. Its 1.2 acres include gracious gardens of mature and stately oak, cedar, pine, and towering cypress trees; rose and succulent gardens; fruit orchards, a grape arbor, flowering-vine-covered pergolas; fountains, patios, as well as huge boulders scattered around the site.
"Villa Firenze" was purchased in 2002 by a designer, who embarked upon a complete renovation and restoration of the property and gardens. The design approach melds the old preserved structure with a designer’s integrated and personal touches including newly constructed outdoor pergolas, statuary, and custom designed furniture pieces constructed from trees felled on the property. This is a phenomenal property with interiors that are impeccable and exteriors that offer a variety of looks, particularly well suited to still photography. For contact information, please send an email to Geoff@filmsantabarbara.com.
If you are looking to shoot in an unspoiled location richly planted with vineyards, still boasting the original oaks upon the land, and cradled by a stunning mountain backdrop, you need look no further than the gem like Cottonwood Canyon Winery. Set on nine acres in the Santa Maria wine region, Cottonwood maintains a low impact agricultural presence conducive to catalog and commercial work. While Cottonwood is informed by its unspoiled and remote feeling it is within the infrastructure and amenities offered by Santa Maria, including food, lodging, and other production related necessities. In addition to all of these great elements, Cottonwood is one of very few wineries in the region to maintain wine caves. The cement structures, built in to a hillside would be perfect for a horror or science fiction project, something containing "government-military" elements or even a movie with scenes taking place…in a wine cave. For more information on Cottonwood or to arrange for filming or photo shoots, please contact the owner, Norman, at email@example.com
There are some places in the world that, by their nature, demand you to stop thinking about the petty things that we tend to concern ourselves with and just simply pay attention. Places that possess such natural beauty that they inspire painters, poets, dreamers and, yes…automobile industry advertisers. When an ad agency sits down to start brainstorming a new set of boards which will sell the latest and greatest Mercedes sedan, Hyundai SUV or Bridgestone tires, they aren't going to end up with a pitch that has a driver gridlocked in L.A. in their brand new car and going nowhere fast on their brand new tires.
No, they are going to pitch boards that have that lucky driver somewhere far away from the madness of the city, where they have presumably left all of their mundane cares and concerns behind. Although Santa Barbara County is an easy hour and a half drive from L.A., we do "far away" locations better than almost anyone and the stunning Jalama Road satisfies all the requirements for the day-dreaming driver and the advertising campaign that will transport them away.
Jalama Road and the farms and ranches along it have been used in multiple productions, from the Academy Award winning "There Will Be Blood", to many commercials for Mercedes, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Bridgestone, Goodyear and others to numerous to name here. The winding road passes through rich farmland, s-turns up and down rocky hillsides, and ultimately ends after running parallel to what is certainly one of the most beautiful beaches in California.
For a variety of pictures of one of the most memorable roads in this beautiful state of California, please visit the Jalama Beach section of our photo-library.
Studio 2050, previously located in Santa Barbara’s "Riviera" neighborhood, has relocated in the historic and recently renovated Cielo Store at the top of the San Marcos pass. The facilities at Studio 2050, including staging areas, stages, and edit bay are now available for still photographers and motion picture/video productions as daily and short term rentals. Located just off the 154 on East Camino Cielo, the newly completed Studio 2050 is owned and operated by Glenn Derbyshire, who has been a noted photographer and production services vendor since finishing his photographic studies at Brooks Institute in 1987. The facility includes the following resources and elements:
• Located in the foothills just off 154 between SB and Santa Ynez
• Large Parking lot for big crews and support vehicles
• Large Production Facilities
• 2 Shooting Studios
• Editing Suite / Mac
• Great workshop for set / prop building
• Large Kitchen
• Private garden areas perfect for craft service and meal breaks
• Equipment Rentals
• High Speed Internet Access
• Great in-house staff
• Experienced Crew Available
• Perfect Santa Barbara / Santa Ynez / Central Coast Location
• Perfect for fashion shoots
• Green Screen
• Insert stage
• Small to medium sets
• Great for still life shoots
• Storage during productions
• Parties / Events
Having been a shooter and a production company in Santa Barbara for a long time, the Studio 2050 staff knows many people (crew) and support companies to help in your production.
Previously used as a location by PT Anderson for the visually stunning "There Will Be Blood", the Pata Ranch is a true treasure for productions seeking an unspoiled and traditional turn of the century farm. Still a working farm, raising both lima bean crops and cattle, the Pata Farm has been in the same family since its founding in 1912.
Featuring a beautifully restored white farmhouse surrounded by fertile fields and an unspoiled backdrop of rolling hills, the Pata Ranch includes 1,500 acres of fields, hills, stands of trees and multiple structures. Beyond the farmhouse, pictured here, which evokes a lifestyle and sensibility perfect for catalogue and commercial production, the property includes a ninety year old schoolhouse, an antique windmill, barns and working outbuildings, and a three bedroom guesthouse.
For more information and to view a variety of photographs of the Pata Farm, located in beautiful Jalama Valley, please click here.
Located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, one can find a stunning location which easily lends itself to still shoots and more. Originally built as a private residence more than a hundred years ago, The University Club is now a private club but also does a brisk trade in events and is available for film, commercial or still photography production.
The structure, in a period correct Spanish Colonial revival style is approximately six thousand square feet and contains an antique furnished entry way leading in to a sitting room/living area with large hand carved fireplace and period correct art. Beyond the sitting area, one finds a formal dining room, also featuring a large fireplace and period art. Adjacent to this is a second dining room with a wood bar and a billiard room. The University Club communicates a strong sense of authenticity and would be a fantastic location for a period film set in the world of the wealthy late nineteenth or early twentieth century in California. As well, it is a great backdrop for fashion, jewelry or housewares drawing on a Spanish or California aesthetic.
The University Club has been featured in campaigns for Territory Ahead and has hosted fashion shows for Vera Wang, Bryant and Sons and others. If you are interested in this location, please feel free to contact Chrissy Deferville at firstname.lastname@example.org
To view more pictures of the club, please click here.
Production companies are constantly on the hunt for new and exciting locations that help to communicate the overall message of their individual projects. Whether it be a feature film, fashion shoot, a commercial, or a television episode, it’s imperative that the world they are portraying on screen be a world unto itself.
The words "whimsical", "innovative’ and "playful" all describe this month’s location, a truly unique structure known as "The Ablitt House." A private structure built in the heart of Santa Barbara, the Ablitt House is truly one of a kind. Designed by noted architect, Jeff Shelton, known for his flowing designs which are both inspired by and redefine Moorish and Spanish design traditions, the Ablitt House is built on a tiny piece of ground, literally twenty by twenty feet. This design challenge resulted in a four story structure which feels like a world unto itself despite, or perhaps because of its innovative design features.
The Ablitt house features custom tile work throughout in eye popping colors and designs. In fact, much of the tile was handmade specifically for this job in order to fit the home’s challenging curves and untraditional forms. Ironwork throughout the home is also custom done by David Shelton, Jeff’s brother, and is featured on a 108 foot , serpentine black walnut banister capped with a snake’s head four stories up. Each of the four floors is a room unto itself and features built in shelving, individual limestone carvings on the walls and other design touches that make this the perfect location for any production seeking a living space for a fictional designer, model, author, or any character or commercial representation of someone with a highly evolved sense of "cool."
Featured in architectural and travel magazines as well as HGTV’s "Extreme Living", the Ablitt House is available for film and still projects. For more information, please check out http://www.ablitthouse.com/.
Before we get in to too many details on this month’s featured Santa Barbara County location, a quick quiz for you: can you name the location here in Santa Barbara where "Batman" was filmed?
This one is a head scratcher, and I can hear folks out there thinking to themselves, "Wait a minute…Batman? In Santa Barbara?" That’s right, sun, sand, and batsuit! I am cheating a little bit, it wasn’t "Dark Knight", and no, it wasn’t Tim Burton’s "Batman", "Batman Begins" or "Batman Forever", if anyone out there even remembers that one. It was in fact my favorite film turn from the caped crusader, "Batman: The Movie". The first feature length adaptation to star the character was released as a made for television movie in 1966 and starred the wonderful group of actors from the beloved television show, Adam West, Burt Ward, and the villainous hat trick of Cesar Romero as The Joker, Burgess Meredith as Penguin and Frank Gorman as The Riddler. If you love Dutch Angles, Day-Glo colors and "Boom" "Crash" "Pow" trumpet stabs during your fight scenes, you might get a kick out of this clip which includes an epic scene of Batman attempting to deal with a bomb on…
Stearn’s Wharf. The landmark which has anchored the bottom of State Street for over one hundred and thirty years was featured in Batman: The Movie, as well as other productions over the years and remains a fantastic attraction and filming location. Stearn’s Wharf is the second longest wooden pier on the Pacific at just under 2000 feet, and offers a variety of looks. Shooting towards the City of Santa Barbara yields a classic California landscape, with Mediterranean architecture capped by red tile roofs and backed by mountains. Shooting towards the Pacific Ocean, one could easily shoot Stearn’s Wharf for the Eastern seaboard, as the weathered wooden buildings are strongly reminiscent of any number of towns and cities in Eastern port cities in years past.
If you are interested in shooting at Stearn’s Wharf, you will fall under the jurisdiction of not only the City of Santa Barbara’s Parks and Recreation Department, but the Waterfront Department as well. Both departments are staffed by helpful folks who are comfortable dealing with the needs of inbound production companies, so may I suggest if you are out there, Mister Spielberg, Jaws 4?
Once again, the AFCI’s massive Locations Tradeshow in Santa Monica has come and gone. This is currently the world’s largest locations tradeshow and brings together a fascinating group of Film Commission personnel from around the world in order to promote their locations to thousands of locations scouts, independent producers and production companies,and studio based physical production personnel. There were two hundred and forty exhibitors representing thirty countries and one hundred eighty distinct film commissions, all of them doing their best to compete for production dollars.
While the Santa Barbara County Film Commission has traditionally purchased a stand alone booth at this event, this year we decided to do things a little bit differently. Through discussions with other California film jurisdictions and with the California State Film Commission, we came to the conclusion that there was a great deal to be gained from pooling our resources and exhibiting under the banner of the California State Film Commission. In fact, the cost to our Commission was eighty percent less than last year, we had the same level of access and, due to the draw of the “California” branding, we saw a much higher level of traffic than last year, so it was a win all the way round.
In addition to this, we had the added value of our much loved California Film Commissioner, Amy Lemisch, who put in a number of shifts at the table where she schmoozed old friends who are looking at returning their producing activities to our state, and also led the charge in providing information to the many people who were trying to come up to speed on the newly instituted Tax Credit!
It was both interesting and encouraging to walk the floor and chat with other film commissioners. Many of my peers expressed their disappointment that California finally decided to make a move towards becoming more competitive in this industry, and used such words as “shocked” and “depressed”. Of course, I was thrilled. Their loss will be our gain, and I look forward to doing everything possible to bring our share of this business to Santa Barbara County. To this end, I also completed a “Master Class” in marketing at the “AFCI University”for Film Commissioners and am excited about applying this new knowledge and understanding to our marketing efforts.
Every film, when it is successful, presents a world unto itself. Whether it is the dystopian city of a caped avenger, or the endless sands of a plane crash site, films always communicate a sense of place. Finding locations which somehow embody or add to the cohesive sense of place in a film project is the never ending task of physical production professionals, they are compulsive collectors of images and addresses which they might someday be able to use for a film project, and they all seem to delight in new discoveries. This month's location spotlight is a unique spot, one which would be all but impossible to find outside of Santa Barbara County and it is easy to imagine a dizzying number of uses for it.
"Floral Ambiance" is eight acres of possibilities, all devoted to the production, assembly and shipping of flowers. In fact, the production line pictured here ships a phenomenal twenty five thousand bouquets per week to stores and vendors across the U.S., as well as for private events. When it comes to the filming possibilities, who wouldn't love to see a chase or a gunfight choreographed through stacks and stacks of flowers! In addition to the production line, the farm includes many greenhouses containing hundreds of thousands of plants in various stages of growth. From row upon row of tiny, green, seedling daisies serviced by automated watering systems, to thousands of eye poppingly colored orchids creating an almost overwhelming blaze off color.
In addition to the greenhouses filled with blooming flowers, there are greenhouses in various stages of use, some unoccupied, greenhouses in older, wooden styles, and greenhouses that are far more modern which, with not too much staging and set dressing could work as any number of locations, from a governmental research facility to a less than legal agricultural venture--Pineapple Express 2, anyone?
Anyone interested in contacting Floral Ambiance for filming or still photography purposes should email Catalina Pardue at Catalina@floralambiance.com.
March 2009 - Zaca Creek Ranch
In this age of downturns, meltdowns, and downward trends, most people find that what they really want is to get back to basics. They want heart and soul, in a word, they want authenticity. Imagine locating your next shoot in a landscape with endless vistas, blue skies, thousands of pristine oak trees, creeks and ponds, a profusion of purple and gold wildflowers, and a heritage that is unmistakably California.
Located in the stunning Santa Ynez Valley, the Zaca Creek Ranch is comprised of 1600 acres of land offering a wide variety of locations. The main residence is done in a "Gentleman Rancher" style which is both high end and also architecturally consistent with the traditions of the land. The main house contains bedrooms and a bunk house, as well as outdoor entertainment areas. One can easily picture this location appearing in the California version of "A Thousand Acres," or films such as "Flicka" or "The Horse Whisperer". Zaca Creek Ranch is not only a visually stunning location, but it is also owned by people who have worked in the entertainment industry and are comfortable with and understand the requirements of physical production. As well, this working cattle ranch has a variety of production services available, including horses, cattle, and wranglers, ranch vehicles, on site accommodations and gourmet, on site catering.
If you would like more information on Zaca Creek Ranch, you can access it at their website, which is zacacreekranch.com.
February 2009 - Santa Barbara County Courthouse
It isn’t uncommon to encounter tourists in downtown Santa Barbara on Anacapa Street pointing their cameras skyward and marveling at a sight that we natives often take for granted. The object of their attention, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a true icon of our community, is not only a historical and architectural treasure, but also offers a variety of unique locations almost impossible to find anywhere else.
Rebuilt in 1926, after the earthquake which did major damage to much of downtown Santa Barbara, the Courthouse is comprised of four buildings totaling one hundred and fifty thousand square feet. With its stucco exterior, phenomenal architectural details including balconies, hand made tile work, statuary done in local stone drawing from mythology, hand painted ceilings, thousand pound wrought iron chandeliers, and more, the Courthouse could easily be shot as the home of Spanish royalty, a dictator’s palace, or many other locations.
The interior of the courthouse continues the Spanish-Moorish theme, with wide, tiled halls topped by cavernous ceilings, period Spanish influenced furniture, and stained glass windows and period light fixtures that truly transport one to another time and place. Another of the Courthouse’s completely unique elements is the Mural Room. This room, long used as a court, features floor to ceiling murals chronicling elements of California’s history and native peoples. The detail on the ceiling is stunning as well and was executed by the same painter who is credited with painting the "Blue Room" of the White House.
Beyond the potential as a period location in Europe, the Courthouse also contains a now unused County Jail, with cells that are still intact and functional…and even include graffiti scratched into the walls over the years by inmates. Finally, the Courthouse clock tower is the tallest structure in the City of Santa Barbara, and has most recently been used as a location by the television show "Psych". The Courthouse is a truly stunning location, so much so that the Sunken Gardens will be featured in an upcoming major motion picture from Universal starring Meryl Streep and Steve Martin and produced by last year’s Oscar winner, Scott Rudin. If you are interested in seeing more photos of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, please click on the following link: Santa Barbara County Courthouse Images
January 2009 - Villa Della Famiglia
It’s no surprise that Santa Barbara is referred to as "The American Riviera". Just as painters, artists, and cinematographers have been drawn to the golden light of the South of France, they have also been drawn to our own golden coast. And, in part because we as a community have done such a fantastic job of safeguarding our stunning environment, those with an eye for natural beauty and Mediterranean inspired architecture will continue to come for many years.
In fact, Santa Barbara’s distinctive architecture consistently puts our county at the top of the list for fashion shoots, car commercials, and other filmed production requiring that sun kissed look. For this month’s locations spotlight, we are featuring the "Villa Della Famiglia", a beautiful seaside estate featuring the best of old world architecture in one of the most stunning spots in the world. The "Villa" was built by Giovanni Miscione, a lifelong contractor, who brought together many years of expertise in quality building in order to execute an estate in the style of his ancestral homeland, Italy.One reaches the Villa by driving literally through a stone gate house, an arched entryway underneath the gate house providing entry on to the estate. Once you enter the two acre property, you will find multiple structures in a Tuscan style featuring tiled roofs, farmhouse accents, and a lush "aged" paint scheme which will provide an elegant backdrop for any production activity. The main house, a five thousand square foot structure with circular tower, is set on a cliff overlooking the Pacific and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, and also boasts lush lawns, fountains, and flagstone patios. Not only that, the exterior of the house even has a chef's station and wood fired pizza oven, all overlooking the infinite blue of the ocean. "Villa Della Famiglia" has been featured in a number of fashion shoots, and the owner is particularly interested in continuing to book this type of business. Those with questions are welcome to contact Mr. Miscione, by telephone at (805) 898-1694, or by email at email@example.com. If you are looking for a great setting for fashion, cars, or lifestyle shoots, the Villa should be at the top your list!
December 2008 - Lotusland
In Montecito, one need only to turn a corner to find a hidden gem. This is a community filled with architectural masterworks, hidden gardens, timeless stonework, and horticultural treasures that can transport one thousands of miles away with a single glance at a blossoming flower. One could make the case that a property called Lotusland, created by a visionary opera singer over a forty year period, is the most visually compelling and varied of the Montecito gardens.
Ganna Walksa, a singer and socialite who retired to Montecito, engaged in a lifelong mission to sculpt her beloved Lotusland into a reflection of her fascination with both horticultural rarities and plants that were commonly available yet suited her particular taste for design. Unlike many botanic garden designers, Madame Walska had only to please herself and the result is a garden which contains a dizzying array of distinct environments with compellingly unique visual elements. The thirty seven acre garden is anchored by a truly stunning 1920’s home which was redesigned and added to by noted architect George Washington-Smith. Executed in a Spanish style, with a Washington-Smith designed bath house and flowering lotus nearby, the main house could easily be shot for its period with very little effort. The house is accented with Moorish influenced fountains and statuary as well.
The gardens, though, are what make this property worth a look for anyone searching for distinctive locations. Although Madame Walska purchased the estate in 1941, it actually predated her ownership as a horticultural center. In fact, the estate was originally owned by Ralph Stevens who planted it as a nursery, so many of the original palms and other large trees date back to the late nineteenth century. In addition to these majestic specimens, one can find an Australian garden, a Japanese garden, a tropical garden, a garden filled with Cycads, which were common during the time of the dinosaurs, even a "blue garden" which features plants with silvery to blue gray foliage. One of the instantly memorable areas at Lotusland is the Cactus Garden. This is another worldy three quarter acre garden with over 500 cactus brought to Lotusland from a private collection that was started in 1929. Some of these cactus tower twenty feet or more, and one instantly thinks of a high end designer clothing or jewelry campaign being set here.
Lotusland is a phenomenal location which has been underused, particularly by still photo campaigns. A quick visit to the website, http://www.lotusland.org/ will provide a dizzying number of reasons for shooting your next still, commercial or feature project at one of the most interesting, and little known, locations in California.
October 2008 - Casa del Herrero
Driving through Montecito, one often catches glimpses of grand estates built decades ago. One can imagine what lies behind those wrought iron gates, stone walls and protective hedges and, if one is in the business of production, it can be bittersweet indeed to know that these phenomenal properties which can’t be easily duplicated are so close, and are at the same time often completely out of reach. The fact is, many times, the owners of these amazing properties simply aren’t interested in making them available for production purposes. If you’ve experienced the frustration of knowing that your perfect Spanish estate location was out there somewhere, but came up striking out when you most needed it, you’ll want to know about Casa del Herrero.
This phenomenal, period correct estate is listed in the National Historic Register of Historic places and is considered one of the finest existing examples of Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture. As it has never left the hands of the family which built it, it remains in its original state, a huge benefit to film, commercial and still productions searching for an "unspoiled" look. Designed by one of the finest practitioners of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, George Washington Smith, Casa del Herrero was completed in 1926 for a successful St. Louis industrialist named George Fox Steedman. Steedman was a fan of Spanish design and collected art and furniture extensively, as well as architectural details such as antique tiles and accents, which he integrated into the home and which remain there now, just as they were when the Steedman family occupied the Casa.
This is a property with a treasure trove of locations, including a flagstone motor court defined by a Moorish fountain, exterior patios, a balcony worthy of a Shakespearean romance, lawns, roses, a cactus garden, and all of it beautifully maintained by the Casa del Herrero Foundation. A particularly unique element of the Casa del Herrera is the fact that Steedman’s workshop has also been maintained as it was, with his hundreds of tools and other apparatus in their original condition. He was not only a successful businessman but a talented blacksmith and silversmith, who actively designed furniture and architectural accents, and this heritage provides for a unique backdrop. This is a location which would work beautifully for any project requiring a classically elegant look and companies with high end products such as sports cars or jewelry, fashion or bridal shoots, features or television needing a double for a European villa, should be sure to file this location away for consideration.
Anyone interested in this location should contact Molly Barker, the Executive Director of the Casa del Herrero Foundation at 805-969-1554, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 2008 - Rancho San Julian
This sprawling ranch was one of the original, Spanish land grants in California. Originally granted to the De La Guerra family in 1816 by the King of Spain, the ranch fell on hard times in the mid 1800s and was purchased by a partnership headed by Thomas Dibblee. Soon thereafter, with the marriage of Thomas Dibblee to Francisca de la Guerra, the ranch was brought back into the original family.
Currently a working ranch run by the descendants of the Dibblee-De La Guerra family, San Julian boasts thirteen thousand acres of land with a wide variety of attractive features for filmmakers. With both cattle and crops under cultivation, there’s no need to create ranching authenticity, it’s all right here. This is a magical landscape of rolling hills and oak groves which the family has placed into an agricultural preserve, thereby providing refuge for a stunning variety of wildlife. There are also caves, densely forested hillsides, a network of dirt roads, even a quarry and the remnants of a diatomaceous earth mining operation. As well, the Ranch has a number of homes built over the last two hundred years, from small cottages, to a stunning 1920s era home, and the main, ranch house. The main house, in white, built in stages over the course of a hundred and fifty years, is stunning, yet lived in, a real "Casa" with a picturesque covered porch, gardens, and stonework.
Rancho San Julian has been featured in film and television since 1984, when the family first decided to make the ranch available for filming purposes. Some of Rancho San Julian’s credits include "Steal Big, Steal Little", starring Andy Garcia and directed by Andy Davis, of "The Fugitive" fame. In addition to this, companies such as Ralph Lauren, Lands End, Budweiser, L.L. Bean, Ford, Dodge, and others have shot commercial or still campaigns at the Rancho.
Those interested in viewing more on this property should go to http://www.ranchosanjulian.com/.
August 2008 - The Union Hotel
The Union Hotel, located in Los Alamos, is a charming brick building with a weathered wood façade. It was originally built in 1880, burned in 1893, rebuilt in 1915, and has been reborn as a wine country adjacent hotel and production location. The hotel appears as if it were frozen in a time long past; a time of oil men, cattle drives, and hard drinking nights.
The drinking isn’t an option any more, at least not the harder stuff. Though the saloon has been preserved in all its glory, and features walls decorated with buckskin chaps, farm implements, and other artifacts from the late nineteenth, the whiskey has been replaced with Root Beer. The current owners, Dana and Terri Klaft, wanted to retain the character of the place but be certain that families would be able to enjoy the trip back in time and, in this spirit, they have replaced the alcohol with ice cream and plan to institute a program of period theatre. The Union is a unique historical locations resource which has hosted both Johnny Cash, who performed in the saloon in the 1950s, and Paul McCartney, who chose to film his "Say, Say, Say" music video on the property in the '80s.
Dana and Terri are working hard towards completing a restoration of the hotel, even as they welcome travelers and film crews. If you’re shooting a beer commercial, an Indie ghost story, a period drama, or anything that would benefit from a classically Western period structure, the Union is definitely worth a second look.