And the Winner Is… Santa Clarita!
Another awards season has come and gone, and it might surprise you to know that many high-profile productions that have filmed in Santa Clarita have gone on to be nominated for, and even won, Academy Awards.
This year in fact, the movie Roman J. Israel Esq. filmed parts of a driving scene from the City of Santa Clarita’s newly-acquired Newhall Pass Open Space. The scene involved a car driving along the 14 Freeway, at the I-5 split, with the property providing a unique bird’s eye vantage point from the hills of Santa Clarita to the San Fernando Valley. Hikers and film buffs alike can reach this unique vista from one of two trails (McHaddad or Cabin) off the Old Road trailhead just northeast of Sierra Highway. For his role in the film, Denzel Washington received a nomination in the Best Actor category at the 90th Academy Awards.
The talk of the Oscars last year was the stylish musical La La Land which filmed in many iconic Los Angeles locations. The Damien Chazelle film actually captured the Best Picture award for a moment, until presenters realized they mistakenly announced the wrong film and Moonlight was given the honor. Oops. But, a couple of the scenes in the movie were filmed at Emma Stone’s character Mia’s mother’s house. The house was supposed to be in Mia’s home town of Boulder City, Nevada, but in reality was in Valencia. In one scene Mia goes back home and in another scene Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), returns to the house and picks Mia up to take her to her audition.
The 2014 best picture nominee Revenant also filmed in the Santa Clarita Valley with production at the Polsa Rosa Movie Ranch in Acton. This is the same movie ranch where 1997 best picture winner Titanic also filmed some water scenes.
The 87th Oscars smiled heavily upon two films with Santa Clarita connections in Whiplash and American Sniper.
American Sniper, the Clint Eastwood production based on Navy Seal Chris Kyle’s autobiography of the same title, was filmed extensively at Blue Cloud Movie Ranch. Blue Cloud served as much of the backdrop of the Iraqi city of Ramadi with many scenes filmed on movie ranch sets. Also (spoiler alert), the interior scene where the US soldiers find explosives hidden in a false floor panel in an Iraqi home, was filmed at the ranch. American Sniper went on to gain six Academy Award nominations for the film including Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Movie. It won the Oscar for Best Sound Editing.
In the same year, another Damien Chazelle film, Whiplash, starring J.K. Simmons, received five Academy Award Nominations and won three. In the drama, aspiring jazz musician Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is subjected to abusive behavior by jazz instructor Carl Tanner (J.K. Simmons). Santa Clarita served as the backdrop for a few locations including a bus stop and car crash in the industrial center and at an auto shop in Old Town Newhall.
In 2013, the 85th Academy Awards honored Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (the “d” is silent) with five Academy Awards including two winners for Best Supporting Actor, Christoph Waltz, and Best Original Screenplay to Tarantino. For long-time festival goers of the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, many of the western streets may have looked familiar. The film was based at Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studios and the iconic western backdrop was featured in many scenes.
Aside from the movies mentioned here, there is a long list of Oscar-recognized films with key locations in Santa Clarita and with the highly anticipated A Wrinkle in Time being released this year, there may be one more to add to that list. So when the fateful line is read by A-list celebrities, “and the winner is…,” oftentimes that winner is Santa Clarita.
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 www.FilmSantaClarita.com and follow the City’s film office at www.Instagram.com/FilmSantaClarita.
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