Film Shasta Sets the Stage for Local Cinematography
● By Laura Christman
Story by Laura Christman
Photos courtesy of Shasta County Film Commission
WHAT DO YOU NEED? A forest, river, waterfall, volcano? Perhaps a remote ranch, pioneer cemetery or charming church?
When a production company is looking for a location to shoot a movie, TV show or commercial, there’s a good chance Shasta County Film Commissioner Sabrina Jurisich knows just the spot – and can wrap up all the details to make it happen.
Jurisich heads Film Shasta, the Shasta County Film Commission marketing effort encouraging local filming. Shasta County has a long history of welcoming film projects. The 1986 movie “Stand by Me,” with the heart-pounding scene of four boys trying to outrun a train on the trestle 78 feet above Lake Britton, is a well-known example.
The county revved up its film efforts in 2014 by establishing the Shasta County Film Commission. The county commission is recognized by the California Film Commission as the official advocate for filming in Shasta County. The designation provides access to key affiliations in the film industry, increasing Shasta County’s visibility throughout the state.
There’s no shortage of scene-stealers in the region: Burney Falls, Sacramento River, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Shasta Caverns, Lake Shasta. The North State also has Old West buildings, farms with barns, vineyards, retro motels and more. Film Shasta lists some 500 film-friendly locations on its website.
Armed with brochures, a “sizzle reel” of top spots and plenty of enthusiasm, Jurisich promotes the area at conferences, trade shows and other events. A common response? “I didn’t even know about Shasta County.”
“A lot of people think Northern California ends at Sacramento or San Francisco,” Jurisich says.
Tyler Lockamy of Archetype Pictures used 34 Redding-area locations, including Old City Hall, Market Street in front of the Cascade Theatre and Stillwater Business Park, in 2016 when filming “Interpreters: a C & Earth Chronicle – quantum 1” (the sci-fi/action film is in post-production).
“It was an incredible experience to do so many different locations,” Lockamy says. He praises Film Shasta for help with navigating required permissions and permits.
North State lands fall under lots of jurisdictions – city, county, state and federal, including the Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Land Management. Jurisich has connections with agency officials and is the local resource for production companies to sort out procedures and paperwork. That part of the process is critical, notes Matt Thayer, owner of Speropictures in Redding. “If you are going to try to sell footage, all of your t’s have to be crossed and i’s dotted.”
He recently worked on an episode of the British motoring television series “Top Gear” filmed in the North State. The segment had a searching-for-Bigfoot storyline and featured off-beat, imaginative vehicles. Thayer coordinated various production tasks, tapping into Jurisich’s expertise for assistance with locations and permits. “She would help us with the contacts and getting all of the right forms.”
Having things go smoothly is important in developing the North State’s reputation as a good place to film. When companies come to town, Jurisich connects them to expertise in the community. “Most productions need some sort of local support,” she notes. There might be requests for production assistants, actors, prop assistants and more. Film Shasta also assists with finding caterers, medics, electricians, water truck operators and other support.
To better learn who is available to fill a niche, Film Shasta hosts periodic meet-and-greets for the local film community (the next one is Feb. 4 at Sheraton Redding Hotel and is expected to sell out with 150 attendees). The events support and foster local connections. “People don’t realize what talent we have here,” Jurisich says.
Shasta County benefits economically from filming by way of payroll for those working on a production and money spent at hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and other businesses.
Film Shasta, funded by lodging taxes and part of Redding Convention and Visitors Bureau, is making a difference, Jurisich says. In 2014, when the county film commission was established, the county hosted 12 productions. In 2018, there were 31. The economic impact was valued at $73,213 in 2014 and grew to $1.37 million in 2018, according to Film Shasta data.
A side benefit of filming at North State locations is showcasing the region to a large audience. King’s Creek Meadow and Chaos Jumbles within Lassen Volcanic National Park were filmed for a recent Nature Valley granola bar commercial. That was a plus for the park, says Michelle D’Ulisse, Lassen Park fee manager. “It is beautiful but it is not a very well-known place. I don’t think people realize how much the park has,” she says.
“I feel like the possibilities are just beginning,” Jurisich says of the North State film economy, noting more opportunities for filmmakers because of growth of self-distribution options and streaming platforms. “We have abundant resources here. Our resources are both natural and human.”•
Film Shasta • www.filmshasta.com
Laura Christman is a freelance writer in Redding with a degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a long career in newspaper journalism. Contact her at [email protected]