53 essential L.A. filming locations: How many have you visited?
Whenever Helen Ramirez has family visiting from Guatemala, she asks them to watch “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and the “Back to the Future” series before they come.
She and Liz Highstrete are the chair and vice-chair of the L.A. Conservancy volunteer committee that created several self-guided walking tours of filming locations throughout Los Angeles during the pandemic.
“My cousins were huge, huge ‘Back to the Future’ fans, so when I took them to the Gamble House, they were like, ‘Oh my God, this house is real,’” she said. “And I was like, ‘Yes. Yes, it is.’”
Then she takes them to the tunnel in Griffith Park where the “Back to the Future Part II” chase scene was filmed. The tunnel is also the location of the entrance to Toontown in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”
In this week’s edition of The Times’ guide to Hollywood careers, we’re delving into the world of locations. What’s it like to be a location scout? What do you do if you want your own home to be a filming location?
“Successful filming should be a win-win,” said veteran location scout Lori Balton. “The production gets an evocative location, with depth and nuance, and the site gets a location fee.”
In the case of historic properties, this fee often goes to support the maintenance of the location, she said.
Highstrete pointed to L.A.-set films like 1955’s “Rebel Without a Cause” and 1997’s “L.A. Confidential” that showcase numerous unique locations throughout the city. There are also newer films like 2009’s “(500) Days of Summer,” 2016’s “La La Land” and 2019’s “Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood” — that are also love letters to L.A.
These memorable Hollywood backdrops are often easy to visit. We gathered a list of some of Los Angeles’ memorable filming locations, including some recommendations from Ramirez, Highstrete and Balton. Which ones have you been to? Are there others you recommend? Email us at email@example.com to let us know.
The Gamble House
If you really want to sink into “Back to the Future” locations, head down to Bushnell Avenue in South Pasadena. That’s where you’ll find the homes of George McFly (1711 Bushnell), Lorraine Baines (1727 Bushnell) and bully Biff Tannen (1809 Bushnell). The street’s homes have also been seen in “Teen Wolf,” “Old School” and the TV series “thirtysomething,” among multiple other productions.
'Music Box' steps
The flying bikes street
The Frolic Room
Los Angeles Theatre
Heritage Square Museum
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
'Back to the Future' neighborhood
The Cowboy Palace Saloon
Larry Edmunds Bookshop
Musso and Frank Grill
Santa Monica Pier
Los Angeles City Hall
Astro Family Restaurant
Cole’s French Dip
Millennium Biltmore Hotel
Torrance High School
Puente Hills Mall
The Blue Room
The Palace Theatre
The Tower Theatre
Cicada Restaurant and Lounge
Greystone Mansion and Gardens
The grounds are open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but the real draw is the mansion’s interior, which allows self-guided tours of the first floor and the newly restored theater the first weekend of each month.
The house has been featured occasionally in designer show houses, but no amount of Gustavian furniture, flamboyant wallpaper or Tony Duquette-inspired decor can mask the dark history that permeates the 55-room estate — namely the Feb. 16, 1929, deaths of oil heir and homeowner Ned Doheny and his secretary, Hugh Plunkett. Authorities ruled that a deranged Plunkett shot his employer and then killed himself, but the crime remains a source of speculation.
Tickets: $8 for the self-guided tour and must be purchased in advance.
Mrs. Robinson’s house
Judy's house from "Rebel Without a Cause"
John Marshall High School
'(500) Days of Summer' bench
Jerry Seinfeld's New York apartment building
It's a date
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