2014 Academy-Award-Winning Film Shot Partially in Placer County

Published on March 14, 2014

"Her" Movie Banner

The Placer County-Lake Tahoe Film Office had a special reason for applauding when the feature film, “Her” was named winner of the 2014 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay recently.

The moment was special because the movie’s snow scenes were filmed at several locations near the Donner Summit in Placer County:  Norden, Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, Soda Springs, and a group of cabins near the Interstate 80 exit at Big Bend.

“Our office was delighted,” said Film Officer Director Beverly Lewis. “It’s a great feeling knowing our county served as a backdrop for an Oscar-winning production.”

The Film Office helped the film crew find locations, facilitated local support, and issued a county film permit.

“Her” is a romantic drama written, directed and co-produced by Spike Jonze. It stars Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely writer who falls in love with the voice on his computer operating system. Scarlett Johansson has a starring role as the computer voice. Amy Adams co-stars.

Lewis noted Jonze was able to shoot in Placer County mainly because the film was one of only a few to qualify for the California Film and Television Tax Credit Program the year it filmed here.

“It illustrates perfectly the challenge California faces trying to keep film and TV production in the state,” she explained. “More than 40 other states and a dozen countries currently offer better incentives that ours. Of 54 films with budgets over $100 million made last year, only one was shot entirely in the state of California because films with budgets over $75 million don’t qualify. That’s $5.3 billion lost in California wages, tax revenue, and purchases to small businesses.  Fortunately, state legislation was introduced a few weeks ago that promises to provide a more level playing field.”

AB 1839 would allow big-budget films to qualify for tax credits and provide a slightly higher tax credit to help offset travel costs for productions that shoot at distant locations such as Placer County.

“Without these modifications to the existing program, it is more cost-effective for productions to take the incentives offered elsewhere and leave the state - and they have done so in increasingly greater numbers for the last ten years,” Lewis explained. “When Hollywood comes to town, they spend thousands and thousands of dollars in our communities and with our local businesses.”

The California Film Commission reported recently that major production companies sometimes spend as much as $100,000 and $250,000 per day.

The Placer County-Lake Tahoe Film Office is part of the county’s Office of Economic Development. Lewis noted production companies that come to Placer County for films, television commercials or photo shoots boost the local economy by spending money on lodging, food, equipment and other essentials. “What productions don’t bring with them, they need to purchase from our local businesses,” she explained.

The Film Office promotes the county’s diverse locations and services to the media industries. It assists productions in finding suitable sites; provides critical contacts to government, business, and public and private agencies; helps them obtain permits; troubleshoots; and facilitates access to local businesses that provide lodging, equipment, hardware, dry cleaning and other necessities.

Placer County began attracting Hollywood’s attention in the 1920s. Charlie Chaplin came in here in 1924 to shoot part of his film “The Gold Rush!” at Sugar Bowl.

The Film Office website maintains a list of films that include footage shot in Placer County.