Anyone familiar with even an inkling of film history knows why American studios set up shop in lower California. Unlike New York and New Jersey, where the industry had been centered, the Los Angeles area and its vicinity could fill in for pretty much any part of the world. Within driving distance, productions could find ocean, desert, mountains (with snow), thick forests, etc. And of course the weather was perfect for yearlong shooting, so even if a climate needed to be fabricated, at least it wouldn't be interfered with by nature. For those of us fascinated by this aspect of early U.S. cinema, it's fun to look over this map (see below) drawn up by Paramount Studios in 1927, which labels different parts of California with which section of the globe it can be employed for. See where you would have gone to in order to reproduce Africa, Siberia, New England, Kentucky, the Sherwood Forest, Alaska and Holland, among other places, if you had been working out of Hollywood back then.

As points out, the map is especially interesting now that California isn't used so much for film shoots. Whether aided by computer imagery or quicker transportation that gets us to the real locations, filmmakers just don't need that convenience anymore. In a related Tweet, Vince Mancini of FilmDrunk asked the other day, in response to the news that Captain America is filming in England, "tell me, why do people live in L.A. again?" Perhaps this map could be put to some good use today, though. Maybe for low-budget productions without the means to render worlds with CGI or ability to travel all over the world for authenticity? Or perhaps you'd like to employ it for your honeymoon plans. Tell people you went to Malaysia when you really just went to Orange County, and take pictures that don't reveal the difference. Actually, I'm sure in the last 80 years the area has changed enough not to fool people as easily.
categories Cinematical