Placer County’s stunning vistas and abundant recreational activities, coupled with its diverse terrain, not only brings the tourism dollar to the
| Cinema Verite was a critically acclaimed HBO TV movie that aired in 2012. Scenes
were shot in a wide variety of homes in Auburn in four days and used for a
montage of homes all over America.
area, but are also places regularly used to shoot feature films, television commercials and photography for national companies, generating millions of dollars for local businesses and residents in the last 15 years.
The Placer-Lake Tahoe Film Office publicizes the many available locations and assists production companies in finding the right “look” for what they’re trying to achieve. The Film Office also expedites the permitting process and ensures all the needs of the production companies are met, from lodging and meals to materials used to construct sets.
Beverly Lewis, Film Office Director, recently hosted a Tahoe Film Conference for government officials who may be involved in some aspect of a production company’s work in the county. The conference highlighted the needs of production companies and the local economic benefit that is derived from this work. Fifth District Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery opened the conference, welcoming the attendees and recognizing “the film industry truly is an economic driver. It brings Placer County to the world.”
Keynote presenter Amy Lemisch, Executive Director of the California Film Commission, pointed out the huge economic effect the film industry has on the state. “The film industry brings millions of tourists to California,” she said. “People do want to visit the places they see on TV and in the movies.”
Although Placer County is distant from most Southern California-based studios, the close proximity of varied terrain within the county makes it a popular place to shoot. While there have been numerous feature films shot in whole or in part in locations throughout Placer County, production work primarily comes from commercials and photography shoots. Seasoned and well-respected commercial film director Tim Damon has produced 14 commercials in the county over 10 years. This year also marks the ninth time in five years that the Orvis Company chose Placer County to shoot still photography for their seasonal catalogues. These productions are attracted to the cinematic variety and local support available in Placer County and return year after year. A production company can film a suburban scene one day, mountain terrain the next and a wild river on the following day.
California, which at one time was the state where almost all movies and commercials were shot, is now facing competition from other states that offer financial incentives to production companies. To sweeten the pot for filming in California, the state Legislature recently enacted a film tax incentive, giving production companies tax breaks for production shoots in the state. The tax benefit keeps business in the state, and production helps to stimulate local economies. Placer County has already played host to four such productions including The Muppets, an HBO movie and an upcoming Spike Jonz film starring Joaquin Phoenix. The California Film Commission estimates that, depending on the complexity of the shoot, a production company will spend between $100,000 and $250,000 a day.
While film companies come prepared, they still spend a lot of money while they’re here. What they don’t bring with them, they purchase locally. Some of those expenditures include fuel for vehicles and generators; hotel rooms to house crews during the shoot; lumber stores for materials to build sets; restaurants and catering companies to feed crews and actors; dry cleaners for costumes; hardware stores for parts and tools to maintain and repair equipment; and local residents who are hired as extras and crew members.
The Placer-Lake Tahoe Film Office, which operates out of the county’s Office of Economic Development, prides itself on making it easy for production companies to use the county for their work. The Office assists in securing film permits at no charge, ensuring that all necessary approvals are obtained from government agencies. Typically, local law enforcement and fire protection agencies must sign off on a production, especially if explosives or firearms are used. If a production will take place on, or requires closing part of a roadway under state or county jurisdiction, the California Highway Patrol will be involved. Film production in any of California’s 270 state parks is usually free, but requires coordination with that agency. With an abundance of federal forestland in the county, the U.S. Forest Service is often involved in permitting.
To spread the word about all the possible scenery and locations, the Placer-Lake Tahoe Film Office maintains an extensive library of still photos showing the variety of locations the county has to offer. In addition, Film Office Director Beverly Lewis conducts familiarization tours with film scouts who visit locales to acquaint them with potential options for upcoming shoots.
To see what Placer County has to offer for motion picture and still photography locations, visit the Film Office’s website: PLACER FILM OFFICE. The website includes a list of films shot in the county. For additional information, contact the Film Office at: 530-889-4091, or toll free at: 877-228-3456.