Tonight the Castro Theatre goes dark with the return of annual Noir City film festival featuring the great and often overlooked gems of the film noir genre.
2014 has come to an end in San Francisco and there is much to be proud of (i.e. Burma Love) and reflect on (i.e. The destructive fandom of the Giants). One of the overarching narratives of the year has been the story of gentrification and change in San Francisco’s landscape.
Today in Pacific Heights, Juicy News SF, an independently run, family operated, & well patronized international newsagent, bookshop & stationary store on Filmore Street is being priced out. Juicy News SF has been operating in the same upper Pacific Heights neighborhood for the past 23 years but the influx of high-priced boutiques and rising rents has Juicy News against a wall and relocating.
The other day my best friend wrote me about how her flight back from France reminded her of me as she watched Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine on the screen. Not only did this bring back the terrible memory of my flight back from Italy (complete with kindle/phone death and seat entertainment system strike in which I spent 10 hours fully awake with no access to cinema) but it upset me that said film could be viewed as indicative of the San Francisco I live in.
NOTE: Whoever told me it’d be a great idea to read Ralph Waldo Emerson on this international trip be damned! Self Reliance was a torture to read on Alitalia and thusly I spent the majority of the trip walking up and down the aisle aimlessly contemplating destruction of Jessica Biel’s career. A dream so many of us share, I know.
Either way, it got me thinking of great places within the city that filmmakers could be filming INSTEAD of Van Ness and 14th St (or any other place that basically stands in for Queens) and the Hitchcock/Bogdanovich landmarks. Firstly, no one had a laptop bag on them the entire time. Did you see any bicyclists disrupting traffic anywhere? Did you see any indication Lulu Lemon and/or SF Giants emblem? A Google bus? A Heath Ceramic? The Haight? The Castro? No, you did not. Blue Jasmine was set in NYC. Like night being shot for day, Blue Jasmine was San Francisco, shot for New York.
Hence this first installment of what I’ll call Location Scout!
This lovely and quiet neighborhood is perfect for a scene featuring a small family setting with its clean roads and classically San Franciscan home styles. The yuppy and homegrown vibes weave together seamlessly in this special enclave of freeway/BART accessibility.
Currently in theatres (and shaking the walls over at Sundance Kabuki) is Godzilla, the epic monster movie attempt and once again a big blockbuster showcases San Francisco losing out to Canada for production work.
Do you recognize San Francisco in this trailer? Honestly?
One of my favorite professors while in school spent an a lot of energy informing his students on ways to make shooting in the city affordable. From stealing shots while on BART and the makeshift “you’re on camera” signs that release liability we learned how to make films in a flash and off the grid.
However, I’d like to take a look at the legitimate incentives being created to elevate San Francisco professional filmmaking that HBO shows shouldn’t be the only ones taking advantage of.
Filming in San Francisco is a big choice and one that many elite Bay Area-based filmmakers choose to abandon when it comes to their chosen projects. Of course, many of these are set outside of the bay and I don’t want to suggest that creative license should be abandoned to satisfy city patriotism. I understand that Spider Man needs to be made in NYC while anything involving invasion of Apes includes CGI San Francisco and then runs over to Pasadena for pretty house shots.
There are many facets of filming within the city “walls” that so many seem to be unaware of. From all phases of filmmaking there are vast resources in this city if you’re interested and willing to put the work in to familiarize yourself and learn its language.
Without further ado I introduce my first Made in SF beat:
A Simple Introduction to the SF Film Commission