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Santa Clarita Posts Spike in Location, Studio Productions

The number of film and television productions in Santa Clarita so far this year has increased 10 percent from the same period in 2005, with 31 productions underway within city limits in August alone. “Now through early November will continue to be really busy for us,” said Jason Crawford, a film liaison for the city. “We’re mostly working with TV and movies.” Crawford said the city issued 188 film permits from January to Aug. 30, compared to 170 film permits during the first eight months of 2005. The slate included a mix of on-location filming and studio productions. Six television shows were filmed on Santa Clarita soundstages, including “Deadwood” and “The Unit.” Santa Clarita Studios, a 10-stage facility on Anza Drive, was also used for two movies this summer, “Redline” and “Bob Bailey,” Crawford said. The television series “The Office,” “24” and “Monk” also used various locations around town this summer. For the HBO show “Big Love,” the city stands in for Utah, while a quiet street in Stevenson Ranch mimics the suburban town on Showtime’s “Weeds,” about a widowed mother who resorts to selling marijuana to make ends meet. In previous years, popular locations for filming included the College of the Canyons campus (“Jag” and “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”), Six Flags Magic Mountain (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “NCIS”) and the Vasquez Rocks (“CSI” and “Friends”). June and July have traditionally been the busiest periods, but August and the fall months are steadily creeping up, Crawford said. He thinks the up-tick in production days is the result of positive word-of-mouth in the industry. “We just continue to have good reaction from productions that film up here and they come back,” he said. In 2005, the number of film permits increased 54 percent from a year prior. The city has long worked to attract production companies, which provide the area with hundreds of production jobs and revenue generated from fees. Late last month, the city council endorsed an Assembly bill that would provide a 12 percent refundable tax credit on vendor spending and qualified wages. An estimated $16.7 million was spent by on-location shoots in Santa Clarita in 2005, according to the Santa Clarita Film Office, created in 2002 to issue film permits. For production companies, Santa Clarita’s allure is three-fold. The city offers diverse terrain, from quiet suburban streets and bucolic parks to jagged canyons and arid, desert-like lots. It is also home to a growing number of production facilities and 11 ranches, including Blue Cloud Movie Ranch in Saugus, Santa Clarita Studios in Valencia and Golden Oak Ranch, an 800-acre facility operated by the Walt Disney Co. that hosts about 180 production days a year. But the most beneficial element of Santa Clarita is its location within the so-called Studio Zone, a 30-mile in radius imaginary circle centered on La Cienega and Beverly boulevards in Hollywood. Productions outside the zone have to pay cast and crew and production extra to travel to set. Most of Santa Clarita, however, falls inside the northernmost arc of the zone, which means productions that shoot there don’t have to pay per diems or for overnight stays. Jeff Morton, owner of the Polsa Rosa Movie Ranch in Acton, said the proximity to Los Angeles is the area’s chief attraction. His 730-acre ranch along Santa Clarita River is in high demand every year from mid-July to early April by production companies, Morton said. “It helps them save money,” he said. “When they’re shooting locally, it’s easier for the talent.”

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