Griffith Park, Point Dume, the 6th Street Bridge near downtown L.A. and a former community hospital in Boyle Heights reputed to be haunted ranked among the most popular film locations in 2012, according to a new survey.
Eight of the top 10 sites for shoots of movies, TV shows, commercials and music videos on city and county streets are publicly owned, the annual survey conducted for the Los Angeles Times by FilmL.A. Inc. found.
"We continue to see a considerable amount of filming that happens on government-owned properties or facilities, from beaches and parks, to public schools and libraries," said Phil Sokoloski, spokesman for FilmL.A., which handles film permits. "The list underscores the importance of having a good working relationship between the film industry and local government authorities."
Griffith Park was again the busiest site for location filming last year. The most popular canyon area, known as the Bird Sanctuary, generated 409 production days — 63 more than in 2011 — including shoots for the TV crime dramas "Southland" and "Sons of Anarchy." (One production day is defined as a crew's permission to film at a single location in a 24-hour period.)
Spanning more than 4,210 acres between the hills of Los Feliz and Burbank, the city-owned park has been a perennial favorite for location scouts because of its cedar grove, mountain roads and iconic observatory, famously portrayed in the James Dean classic "Rebel Without a Cause."
Point Dume State Beach on the Malibu coast was the second busiest locale with 163 production days, including shoots for the TV series "Modern Family" and auto commercials for Dodge, Fiat, Subaru and Carmax, among others.
The beach has a long cinematic tradition. Its cliffs and rocky shore provided a backdrop for movies such as 1968's "Planet of the Apes" and the Coen brothers' 1991 drama "Barton Fink." Nonetheless, it was the first time since the survey began three years ago that Point Dume ranked among the top 10 locations.
Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey and Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades also had a busy year, ranking third and eighth respectively in production days. Those beaches drew the television shows "NCIS: Los Angeles," "90210," "Parenthood" and "The Office," according to the FilmL.A. data. Venice Beach, which ranked second last year, fell to seventh this year.
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Some of the increased beach activity may be related to steps Los Angeles County took early in 2012 to ease some restrictions on filming on county beaches, such as allowing the use of sand digging and fireworks.
The 6th Street Bridge near downtown Los Angeles landed in fifth place. Over the decades scores of commercials, music videos (including one recently for the band Green Day) and movies have been shot on or underneath the bridge, including the Batman sequel "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Seven Psychopaths," a crime comedy starring Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell and Colin Farrell.
Producers from "Seven Psychopaths" used the bridge in a nighttime car scene.
"Cinematographers love it because you get the downtown background, you get the lights and you get that nice long driving shot. It's a great bridge," said Robert Foulkes, the "Psychopaths" location manager.
Another popular spot last year was the former Linda Vista Community Hospital in Boyle Heights. The location, long rumored to be haunted, has played host over the years to such shows as "ER" and the Travel Channel's "Ghost Stories," as well as the HBO series "True Blood" and the crime drama "Criminal Minds."
Television shows led by "Private Practice," "The Client List," "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "Southland" generated the most production days in 2012, FilmL.A.'s data show. Among movies, the features "Bad Words," "Star Trek Into Darkness" and "Paranormal Activity 4" had the most location filming in Los Angeles.