Back to School: Santa Clarita Style by the Santa Clarita Film Office
As August rolls around and students start going back to school, many real-life storylines filled with drama, comedy, suspense, romance and even horror will play out in our local schools. Granted, the horror in question is more the “I didn’t know I had a mid-term today” type, but horror nonetheless.
In the world of film and television, Santa Clarita has played the backdrop for all of these storylines with some of the most memorable school related scenes being shot right here in our own backyard.
Most recently in the Netflix show Santa Clarita Diet, Abby, daughter of protagonist parents played by Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore, must navigate high school while dealing with her mother becoming unfashionably undead. Abby’s high school was none other than Canyon High and it’s there where Abby’s parents are called into the principal’s office to discuss her recent delinquent behavior.
The Sierra Vista Junior High School gym is seen very prominently in the Billy Bob Thornton comedy Mr. Woodcock. It was in that gym where Seann William Scott’s character experienced his torturous junior high school life, courtesy of his not-so-nice gym teacher played by Thornton.
In the world of the supernatural, Santa Clarita starred in a pivotal scene on the NBC hit show Heroes. In the scene, high school cheerleader Claire Bennet, played by Hayden Panettiere, leaps off a piece of mining equipment, seemingly to her death, only to regenerate to full health to the astonishment of her companion. The old mining site is located in the Santa Clarita Valley on the east side of town. Claire’s special ability to heal herself is reaffirmed in another scene filmed at Golden Valley High School where she takes the full brunt of an errant football tackle which breaks her neck, only to have her special power restore her back to health before anyone notices.
Where else but Santa Clarita could serve as the idyllic high school setting in the Academy Award-winning comedy/drama Pleasantville? Valencia High served as the high school for the surreal 1998 film that stars Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, William H. Macy and Reese Witherspoon.
Valencia High School took another starring role when two hapless heroes travel to “Tuscon, Arizona” in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Characters played by Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino decide to impress their old classmates by pretending to be the inventors of Post-It Notes. Look for the lunch area at Valencia High featured in the off-beat comedy.
Even the most banal of high school experiences can be sprinkled with awkwardness and perhaps no show was better at exploring those themes than Freaks and Geeks. The series had a number of recurring scenes shot at Hart High and surrounding neighborhoods in Newhall.
While they might technically not be listed in any of Santa Clarita yearbooks, many of Hollywood’s top talents have roamed the halls of our schools for years. As our returning students live out their own storylines of drama, comedy, suspense, romance and even horror, they should know they are in some pretty famous company.
The City of Santa Clarita’s Film Office was started in 2002 and today processes over 500 permits per year, leading to approximately 1,300 film days! Filming is a great benefit to the community, adding over $30 million of positive economic impact per year to the local economy. For a list of what has filmed in Santa Clarita, go to FilmSantaClarita.com and follow the City’s film office at Instagram.com/FilmSantaClarita.