Living in Los Angeles, you get used to seeing movies and TV shows being shot all over town. A long line of “Star Waggons” parked on the street, or a brightly-colored sign attached to a lamppost, inevitably means something is being filmed nearby.
Even though we live within walking distance of Sony Studios, we’ve never seen film crews in our neighborhood—that is, until yesterday. On Monday a notice from Film L.A. was tucked into our front door, warning that an episode of Law & Order: Los Angeles (or LOLA, as we affectionately call it) was being shot the next day in Ballona Creek, the concrete “river” that runs at the end of our block. The notice promised “atmospheric smoke effects,” weapons, a “crime scene body,” “fake blood on the river bank,” and an array of film equipment. In addition, the bike path located alongside the creek would be inaccessible and street parking restricted, 6AM to midnight.
As soon as I got dressed the next morning, I looked down the street and, sure enough, orange cones were blocking the exit. I walked over to the creek to see what was going on. At the far side, I could see what looked to be a white bodybag. A crew member was picking trash out of the water—heaven forbid the rest of the country sees debris in our sad excuse of a river! Two retired motorcycle cops guarded the ends of the street bordering the creek. They were giving me the fisheye, so I went back home to work.
I returned a few hours later to survey the scene. Two (prop?) cop cars were parked on the other side of the creek, along with a fake county coroner’s wagon. A neighbor pulled out of her driveway and yelled my way, “Has anyone claimed the body yet?” She then sped away, laughing hysterically at her own joke. A police officer walked past, but I couldn’t tell if he was real or an “extra.” I then noticed that the gate to the bike path, which has been locked ever since we moved here, was open! Marveling at the power of Hollywood, I walked toward the gate. No one stopped me and so, for the first time in 12 years, I took the normally forbidden shortcut to the post office.
When I got back, the crew had moved to one of the houses overlooking the creek. Windows were covered in brown wrapping paper and floodlights were blazing. I looked around for the stars of the show, but didn’t see anyone famous, so kept walking home. However, I did see a bank of porta-potties standing at the end of the street. Show biz ain’t as glamorous as it used to be!
P.S. The L.A. Times also had its eye on our little TV production and so ran an article about the Ballona Creek LOLA episode in today’s Business section. According to the Times, film production in L.A. is up 22% this season, thanks to LOLA and other LA-centric shows. Good for the economy and good for those of us who remain star-struck, even if we’ve lived here most of our lives.
Be watching for the “Ballona Creek” episode to air some time in December.
UPDATE: The "Ballona Creek" episode of LOLA aired on NBC last night (11/17/10). Lots of creek scenes. I can't believe I missed all the action! You can probably catch the episode on Hulu if you missed it.