February 22, 2024
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Nominated films generate jobs for Ventura County


Parts of the Academy Award-nominated movie The Fabelmans were shot at the High Street Arts Center in Moorpark. (Mike Harris / PCBT Staff)

In a likely first, three of the nominated movies at this year’s Academy Awards March 12 were partially shot in Ventura County, helping generate revenue and create jobs around the area.

“It’s probably the first time three-Oscar nominated films have been filmed here in Ventura County,” film historian Harry Medved, who lives in unincorporated Oak Park in east Ventura County, told the Business Times.

“I can’t think of another time that’s happened.”

Scenes from the three movies up for Oscars – Babylon, Everything, Everywhere All at Once, and The Fabelmans – were shot in Simi Valley and Moorpark in the eastern part of the county.

Medved will discuss the three films and show clips from them at a free March 9 program open to the public at California Lutheran University’s Hub101 space at 31416 Agoura Road in Westlake Village.  

The event runs from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. No registration is needed. Medved will also discuss the history of local “movie ranch” filming locales. Winners of an Oscar quiz will receive free movie tickets. 

More information about the program is available at www.hub101.org/events. 

The event will “draw attention to the fact that Hollywood is back post-pandemic and shooting more than ever in Ventura County,” said Medved, co-author of two books about the history of filming in Southern California, “Location Filming in Los Angeles” and “Hollywood Escapes.”

“We’re open for business and looking to get more productions here because it helps our economy,” the film location expert said.

Such productions create jobs and generate revenues, he added.

“It’s exciting that our workers in Ventura County who depend on the film industry are getting work again,” said Medved.

Such workers are day-to-day crew such as location managers, costume designers, set decorators, gaffers and electricians, he said.

Film productions also benefit local businesses when they shoot in the county, Medved said.

“There’s a ripple effect,” he said. “For example, they’re going to use the dry cleaners. Or the restaurants for catering.”

And they boost tourism, he said.

“People come here to see where the films were shot,” he said.

Scenes from The Fabelmans, up for eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director (Steven Spielberg), were shot in 2021 at several Simi Valley locations. The movie is a semi-autobiographical drama based on Spielberg’s coming-of-age as a filmmaker starring Michelle Williams.

The Simi Valley sites included a private residence, Houghton Schreiber Park and driving scenes on Township Avenue, said Assistant City Manager Linda Swan.

It was also filmed at the High Street Arts Center in neighboring Moorpark in 2022, said John Bandek, the city’s business development officer.

Scenes from Everything, Everywhere All at Once, were also shot in 2021 at several Simi Valley locales, Swan said. The sci-fi action comedy starring Michelle Yeoh is nominated for 11 Oscars including Best Picture.

The Simi Valley sites it was filmed at included an Amazon warehouse and the Simi Valley Town Center.

Scenes were also filmed at two parks in Simi Valley owned and operated by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District.

They were Rocky Pointe Natural Park and Corriganville Park, said Nikki Davy, the district’s recreational secretary.

The latter is the former site of the Corriganville Movie Ranch, where many movie and television westerns were shot in the 1940s and 1950s.

Scenes from Babylon, an epic about 1920s Hollywood nominated for three Oscars were shot at the Hummingbird Nest Ranch in Simi Valley, which portrayed Brad Pitts’ Hollywood home.

The site has appeared in more than 100 movies and television shows.

Babylon scenes were also filmed at the Big Sky Movie Ranch just outside Simi Valley in unincorporated Ventura County. Numerous films and television shows have been shot there over the years, including “Men in Black” and Little House on the Prairie.”

“Simi Valley and Moorpark residents who will be watching the Oscars March 12 might just recognize some of the scenes as being shot right in their own backyards,” Medved said.

Simi Valley, Moorpark and Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District officials say they welcome film productions.

“Very much so,” Davy said. “We’re very film friendly.”

She said the district tries to make its policies for filming in its parks easy to understand and can turn around production companies’ applications in as little as 1-2 days.

Revenues are generated by charging the companies competitive rates, she said.

“We charge production companies based on how big they are and what impact they’re having on the park,” she said.

In 2022, Davy said, the district issued 73 permits for 139 filming days, generating $155,775 in revenues, slightly down from 2021.

The revenues go into the district’s general fund to help maintain the district’s parks, she said.

Swan said Simi Valley also welcomes film productions and tries to accommodate the companies as much as possible.

“Our turnaround time (for issuing permits) is probably much better than if you were to shoot in L.A.,” she said.

Swan said the city doesn’t make a profit from the permits it charges the production companies to film in town.

A base fee for one location, for example, costs $161.25. A temporary use permit costs $317.13. There are numerous other potential permits as well, such as one for filming in a public right-of-way, costing $309.60.

“Our fees cover the administrative costs of issuing the permits,” she said. “We’re not making any money.”

Filming nonetheless generates revenue for the city’s businesses, Swan, like Medved, noted.

“It is not unusual for production companies or studios to run to a local store, utilize trade or other services while out here,” she said.

And the companies can hire film industry workers who live in Simi Valley, she said.

“Due to the ease of the city’s permitting process, word of mouth travels and we continue to get new production companies coming out to film here,” she said.

Production companies, which film at Allied Studios, a large, permanent studio in Simi Valley, don’t need a film permit from the city, Swan said. That’s because Allied has a conditional use permit, which gives the studio filming rights, she said.

Bandek said Moorpark “absolutely” welcomes film productions and also has a streamlined application process.

“Moorpark is a beautiful city and there are many unique locations to film here,” he said.

A city website, discovermoorpark.com/filming, shows the different sites in the city for shooting and details the process for production companies to apply for permits.

Last year, the city approved 18 film permits, of which four were for full-length features, Bandek said.

Revenue generated from the 18 permits totaled $10,570, which went into the city’s general fund to support the city’s operational expenditures, he said.

In addition to The Fabelmans, a number of other movies have been filmed in Moorpark, including 1974’s Chinatown, 1980’s Motel Hell and 2021’s The Mosquito Coast, according to the city’s film site.

“Many Moorpark businesses, including gas stations and restaurants, benefit from filming production in the city,” he said.

This story has been updated to correct an incorrect address.