Pasadena has the attention of the world during the Rose Parade, but moviegoers often see the city without realizing it as film crews work year round to convert Pasadena into European capitals, the Midwest and Boston.
Pasadena, South Pasadena and San Marino have been host to sets such as the old “Batman” TV series’ Wayne Manor and the residence of fictional teen slayer Michael Myers from the “Halloween” series of movies. The area’s diverse architecture and streets make it a draw for commercials, films and television.
Pasadena issues about 480 film permits a year and has about 800 film days a year, said Ariel Penn, film manager for the city. Film permit revenues add $750,000 to city coffers annually, Penn said.
Scenes for “Pulp Fiction” were shot at the Raymond Theatre in Old Pasadena, and the Castle Green was home to a goddess hell-bent on destroying the world in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
More recently, Kate Beckinsale and Nick Nolte shot scenes outside Pasadena City Hall for “The Trials of Cate McCall,” and a Holly Street building was turned into a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor for a pilot called “1600 Penn.” The hit show “Mad Men” is also shot in Pasadena.
“Pasadena can represent so many places around the U.S. and the world,” Penn said. “We have the good fortune of having so many architectural building and style varieties that [it makes] us an attractive location.”
The city’s film office produced a 72-page film location guide with more than 1,000 locations they plan to showcase at the Assn. of Film Commissioners International Locations Show 2012 at the Los Angeles Convention Center last weekend.
Penn said she still gets calls about the house plans for the South El Molino Avenue residence used for the 1991 remake of “Father of the Bride,” a film that ironically was set in San Marino.
San Marino earns about $50,000 to $70,000 a year from filming, said City Manager Matt Ballantyne, who added that most filming in the city takes place at the Huntington Library.
Location scouts go to the Huntington for its expansive lawns and Japanese garden, the latter of which was used in “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Anger Management,” said Dinah LeHoven, filming coordinator at the Huntington.
“One of the biggest parts of my job is making sure companies understand how to treat neighbors. We’re strict about route time, and we enforce it with fines,” LeHoven said.
With tax incentives drawing filmmakers to other states, the Huntington has seen a drop in filming compared to four years ago, she said. In 2011 seven projects were shot, compared with 16 in 2008.
South Pasadena issues about 200 film permits a year, which is high for a city of just 3.4 square miles, said Joan Aguado, South Pasadena film liaison.
Filming nets the city about $130,000 annually, said South Pasadena City Manager Sergio Gonzalez.
South Pasadena served as the backdrop for fraternity row in the Will Ferrell comedy “Old School.”
“Also, every crime show ends up here — ‘CSI,’ ‘NCIS,’ ‘Dexter,’ ‘The Mentalist,’” Aguado said.
Jim Carrey and Steve Carell recently shot “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” in South Pasadena, Aguado said, a film where Carell plays a Las Vegas magician who goes toe-to-toe with a hip street magician played by Carrey.
Jordana Kronen, a film location manager for 21 years, said the Pasadena region has its advantages.
“I consider South Pasadena a boutique city. It can look like anywhere in the U.S., and there’s not a lot of palm trees, which is the bane of scouts’ existence,” Kronen said. “Between South Pasadena and Pasadena, you can pretty much create any non-L.A. look you are looking for.”
Pasadena and South Pasadena also are ideal for shooting because of their proximity to major studios and the cities’ willingness to work with crews.
Even in the cutthroat race among other states and countries to offer film production tax credits, the area has an appeal that is hard to find elsewhere, Kronen said.
“We still have the best crews and equipment here and the weather,” she said. “There’s a reason filming became big here.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun