Skooter reporting 07/12/12
California is the acknowledged movie-making capital of the world, no argument on this. Though India produces more films and China has bigger studios, the industry based in this sprawling US state has an unparalleled impact across the globe. There is no doubt that the name ‘Hollywood’ has become so synonymous with films, it’s sparked copycat monikers from Bollywood in Mumbai, or Bombay and Nollywood in Nigeria to Wellywood in Wellington, New Zealand, and Lollywood, in the Pakistani city of Lahore. Honestly, we only heard of Bollywood, the rest never heard.
Curious, we asked why did it started all here? Our guide started saying, around the turn of the century, California actually wasn’t a leading nominee, that honor, belonged to Chicago and New York, where America’s first commercial films were made. However the west coast’s sunny weather conditions was a big attraction at a time when even indoor scenes were filmed in the open air to save on lighting costs. Another thing it was fortunately far from the reach of east-coast patent holders such as, who would defend his camera technology with legal rights and, if the mood took him, with hired goons wielding baseball bats.
The other ground for California’s movie preeminence becomes visibly clear on the journey south from San Francisco. You could see the modern freeways and suburban stretch give way to high grasslands in the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve and impenetrable redwood forests north of Santa Cruz. Reaching the Pacific Coast Highway spreads out ahead, sketching rocky headlands and gentle sandy bays. At Big South, it clambers up the craggy volcanic ranges, bending around cliffs with vertical drops to the battering ocean below, and shows the way on to the silver-grey foreshores of San Simeon, where elephant seals parp and loll, wriggling to inch themselves up the sand as the frothing tide approaches.
We met someone name Sean O’Brien whom we learn he is a location scout, lives in Los Angeles, travels across the country seeking perfect settings for films, television and ads. Sitting comfortably in the leather-look booth of a roadside diner, he orders a cup of coffee and explains to us the secrets of his craft, ‘What makes California the premier place to shoot is the variety of landscapes., he begins.
‘You can be shooting a scene at the beach here in the morning, in the mountains doing a snow shot that same afternoon, then you can head down to the desert, all in one day. It’s that fast. Salt flats, sand dunes, cities, suburban zones, industrial areas, farms, whatever you need, they got it. Nowhere else has diverse topography like this.’
To be continued…