On a cold, wet afternoon two cowboys trudge across a muddy street in a western town carrying saddles on their backs as a loud speaker blasts Jim Croce’s hit song "I got a Name." The scene was being played out at the historic Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita , where director Quentin Tarantino was filming his upcoming western "Django Unchained," starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx.

"It's a blast shooting here," Tarantino said in a break from shooting. "Most other western towns look like dollhouses. This has the complete look. It’s fantastic."

There are about 10 movie ranches in the Santa Clarita area that have become increasingly busy with production, providing a big boost to the local economy. The mostly privately-owned ranches are hosting a wide range of productions, from westerns like "Django" to beer and truck ads for the upcoming Super Bowl and a soon-to-shoot scene set in Afghanistan for the HBO series "True Blood."

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-- Richard Verrier

Photo: Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita has a long history of filmmaking and is currently hosting a crew from "Django Unchained." Credit: Melody Ranch.