When “Rosewood” co-executive producer Vahan Moosekian was scouting a location to stand in as Miami, he and his crew drove south to Orange County and found what they were looking for.
Miami’s famous beaches would be played by Huntington and Laguna Beach, while Anaheim would take the stage as some of Miami’s diverse neighborhoods.
“We were scouting locations for a bar and house and we looked all over and we found them in Anaheim,” Moosekian said. “The house (on Lemon Street) looked like it belonged in Florida and then we found the (Off-Limits) bar just a few miles away.”
Huntington and Laguna Beach are well known filming locales, but Anaheim – outside of Disneyland – less so. A new push by the city to encourage more filming of movies, television shows and commercials is changing that.
“Rosewood,” a Fox television crime drama starring Morris Chestnut and Jaina Lee Ortiz, is among the more than 100 film, television and commercial productions that have filmed in the city since last year. “Rosewood” crews spent 41 days in Anaheim.
Other shows using Anaheim as a backdrop include the second season of HBO’s crime series “True Detective,” which filmed at the city’s transportation hub ARTIC; Showtime’s drama “Roadies” used the Convention Center; and another Fox series, “Bones,” has feature Anaheim Ice.
“We’ve become the best place in Orange County to shoot movies and TV shows,” Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said. “With a low-cost fee, a single-point of contact and a variety of architecture and settings, Anaheim allows production companies to easily match locations to their scripts. This is a great way to promote our city.”
The Film Anaheim initiative began in January 2015, a few months after Gov. Jerry Brown tripled incentives from $100 million to $330 million in the state’s Film & Television Tax Credit Program. Under the program, producers chosen by the California Film Commission can receive tax credits for filming outside of a 30-mile zone that is centered in Los Angeles at Beverly Boulevard and La Cienega; hiring a certain number of people and reserving expenditures for visual effects and other job-producing elements. They can get up to a 25 percent credit off the total cost of the production.
Since the start of Film Anaheim, the city has generated more than $22,000 from permits and business licensing. On top of that, the city has raised money by renting out the use of facilities.
“The state passed this because we were losing so much in terms of jobs, promotion and ancillary business that grow from the film and television industry to other states and countries,“ Orange County Film Commissioner Janice Arrington said. “Now, L.A. is booming again and that’s good news for Orange County. When more locations are needed, they come out here.”
The county has a long history of films being made in its cities, dating as far back as the dawn of the silent movies era in the early 1900s.
The 1920s film, “The Mark of Zorro,” was filmed in San Juan Capistrano. Fans of the 1960s TV comedy “Gilligan’s Island” will tell you the seven stranded castaways are somewhere in Newport Beach. Most recently, the Seal Beach Pier served as the San Diego backdrop for a scene in “American Sniper.”
Arrington said there’s been an uptick in productions in Orange County since Brown expanded the tax credit program. The Orange County Film Commission facilitates filming and helps market locations and resources to the entertainment industry.
In 2012, “American Horror Story” filmed in Santa Ana, and the new “CHiP” movie also visited the city. Arrington said the pilot for “MacGyver” began shooting this week in Cypress.
Moosekian said having the production in Anaheim and other parts of Orange County has been convenient.
“It’s easier to produce a show in and around Los Angeles,” he said. “This is where the business originated. Some of the most talented people are here: visual effects, make up artists, prop artist, and the warehouses are here. We don’t have to bring all that stuff to Albuquerque or Atlanta. … As a producer, anything I need I can get it, and find it, here. And I happen to like to go home and sleep on my own bed.”