Santa Clarita in the Pictures
Film and television production in Santa Clarita dates back to the earliest forms of each of the respective mediums and has continued strong through today. Charlie Chaplin filmed a scene from The Pilgrim at the historic Saugus Train Station in 1923. Old Yeller was shot in Santa Clarita at Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch. Academy-nominated films La La Land, American Sniper, Django Unchained and Whiplash also filmed in Santa Clarita over the last few years. The number of films featuring Santa Clarita as a background are almost too numerous to count.
The Santa Clarita Valley is also rich with television history. The iconic Western series Gunsmoke was filmed at Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studios. Santa Clarita provided the backdrop when Captain Kirk fought the sci-fi reptilian villain Gorn in the very first episode of the classic Star Trek television series at Vasquez Rocks. Modern Star Trek movies returned to portray Vasquez as the planet Vulcan on the big screen decades later. Hazzard County, home of the Dukes of Hazzard, was actually just west of the Interstate 5, less than a mile from the In-and-Out Burger. If you thought Melrose Place was filmed in the 90210 area code, you would be mistaken; it was at Santa Clarita Studios.
Filming continues to boom today with streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and other production powerhouses creating original programing, along with premiere brands like HBO and Showtime, which have had several productions base in Santa Clarita.
NCIS, Westworld, Atypical, Ballers, The Guest Book, Shooter, Stitchers, Ultimate Beastmaster and Santa Clarita Diet were just some of the productions that filmed extensively in Santa Clarita in the last year. There also have been feature films, such as A Wrinkle in Time and Magic Camp, along with dozens of commercials, music videos and photoshoots in the last year, as well.
There are several reasons why Santa Clarita has been such a magnet for production. In the early days, Santa Clarita’s close proximity to Hollywood, as well as its rural settings, drew many Westerns and lured the world famous William S. Hart to the area, along with Gene Autry and Tom Mix. In fact, Santa Clarita was referred to as “Newhallywood” and still gets tagged as Hollywood North.
As Santa Clarita evolved and the population grew, so did the opportunity for Santa Clarita to double as more than just the Old West or a rural setting. Suburban track homes can play as “anywhere America,” while older ranch-style homes can offer a more unique feel. The Westfield Valencia Town Center can play to scenes with urban sophistication and has doubled for New York and the West Side; while older diners like the Saugus Café or the Halfway House can play to a small-town feel. Supporting infrastructure in Santa Clarita is home to more than 20 sound stages and 10 movie ranches, as well, and more than 6,000 local men and women work in the industry.
The Santa Clarita Valley has a rich history, and much of it is interwoven with the history of film and television. As you drive around town, you’ll notice little pockets of production, and you’ll know this history is still being written.
For a list of what has filmed in Santa Clarita, please visit www.FilmSantaClarita.com and follow the City’s Film Office at Instagram.com/FilmSantaClarita.