From ‘Halloween’ to ‘Back to the Future’: Why filmmakers love Pasadena and the South Pass

From ‘Halloween’ to ‘Back to the Future’: Why filmmakers love Pasadena and the South Pass

There’s not much filming in Los Angeles at the moment due to the ongoing actors’ strike and the writers’ strike was only recently resolved. But for decades, cities east of downtown Los Angeles — including Pasadena, South Pasadena and Altadena — have been major magnets for film and television productions.

Veteran site explorer and manager Rick Schuler With its wide array of single-family homes and tree-lined streets, it’s often used as an alternative to the Midwest or East Coast, Dinas says.

Schuler recently took over How to Los Angeles The team toured some of the filming locations used in films such as Halloween, Back to the future And Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

It feels like a small town in Los Angeles County

South Pasadena is often a go-to destination when a film crew wants a location that resembles a small Midwestern town, Shuler says.

Interestingly, the city has a historical connection to the Midwest – the Anglo founders of South Pasadena and Pasadena, in the 1870s, were From Indiana.

Perhaps the most famous filming location in South Pasadena is Michael Myers’ house at 1000 Mission St., which was featured in the 1978 horror classic. Halloween. In the film and sequels, it is the home of killer Michael Myers.

The Victorian-style house, built in 1888, is one of several South Pasadena homes featured in the film, intended for the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois.

“But they chose South Pasadena,” Schuler says, “because South Pasadena is like an American city everywhere, especially from the Midwest or the East Coast. What sets it apart is the tree-lined streets, and the kind of architecture that’s here. It feels like a small town.”

There are also a fair number of brick buildings in South Pasadena, which you don’t see very often in Los Angeles, and a lot of large eucalyptus trees that form canopies over the streets, Schuler says.

    A view of the facade of the South Pasadena Public Library on a sunny day.  There is a green meadow outside, several different types of trees, including some palm trees on the right.  Two light columns flank the cement and brick walkway leading to the arched front entrance.

The South Pasadena Public Library is surrounded by trees, including some pesky palm trees.

(Samantha Helou Hernandez



The only tree that is a problem? Palm trees – a dead giveaway that you are in Los Angeles

“Palm trees can be the bane of our existence,” Schuler says. Or at least, they used to be. “In the age of CGI and all that kind of stuff, they can now quickly say, ‘Oh, we can remove that.’”

There are other solutions too that don’t involve computers. For example, near the Pasadena house that Schuller found for the 2005 film Mr. and Mrs. SmithFilmed on the East Coast, the film crew hid the trunks of some of the palm trees that lined the street.

“We wrapped it in two semi-cylindrical veneers, similar to oak or eucalyptus wood,” Schuler says. “So we did 10 feet of that” because only the tree trunks could be seen in the frame.

Being from the Midwest himself, Schuler says South Pasadena and Pasadena aren’t exactly the same area.

“I think we created a kind of movie version of the Midwest with the white picket fence, the dormers (in the house) and the shingles. That kind of thing is in there, but there are also all kinds of other styles.”

Knock knock. Can we film at your home?

Another big challenge with shooting in residential neighborhoods is getting homeowner support for the use of a particular home, Schuler says.

The first step is to knock on the door, then explain why you are there, but also don’t give them too much information too quickly.

“What we should do is talk to people (about) whether they want to do this, and then eventually (explain that) yes, we need to take you to a hotel, and we want to take you to the hotel,” Schuler says. Get all your stuff out and put it in storage, we want to get ours…”

Depending on the city you’re in and what time of day or night you want to film, productions also need to get approval from a certain number of neighbors.

In the case of colonial style Mr. and Mrs. Smith For a house on San Pasqual Street in Pasadena, which was only used for outdoor filming, the owners also agreed to let the film crew drive the car into their yard, build a makeshift garage in the backyard, and even set off a small explosion.

Robbie Leslie, whose parents own the house, and who was 7 years old at the time of filming, remembers it as a great time.

An iPhone photo shows the Leslie family with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  You can see part of the hand holding the phone, and in the background, behind the phone, a man is standing barefoot on a wooden floor, wearing black pants and a yellow long-sleeved shirt.

Robbie shows Leslie a photo of his family with actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who filmed “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” in part, at Leslie’s home. Ruby is on the far left.

“We were staying at a Ritz-Carlton a few miles away, and I remember putting it to good use,” says Leslie. “I would always go to the bar after school and order a bowl of beans, which they always served. It was fun.”

“Now, it’s like everything I need to break the ice. I can say, ‘Oh, have you ever seen that?’ Mr. and Mrs. Smith? “This is our house… (and) no, it wasn’t really blown up.”

A variety of architectural styles

Another attraction for movie location scouts is the variety of homes in Dinas.

Just down the street from the main one Mr. and Mrs. Smith The house is a Tudor style house that was also used for a short scene.

It is just a short drive across town from the famous craftsman Back to the future The house (or Gamble House) is a popular tourist destination for architecture buffs and film fans alike. It was designed by the famous architecture firm Greene and Greene.

View of the Gamble House in Pasadena, from the brick walkway.  The grass outside the house is greenish-brown and the house itself is clad in brown shingles, two stories high, with an outdoor patio on the top floor.  The roof beams can be seen as they extend beyond the structure of the house itself.  A chimney is visible in the center of the roof and the short, cement-looking front wall is partly covered by an ivy-like climbing plant.  There are about four palm trees or small bright green succulents in plantings on the short wall.

The Gamble House in Pasadena which was featured in the movie “Back to the Future.”

(Samantha Helou Hernandez



Although, in the case of Gamble House, Schuler says that may now be the case also Now known for its use in other films. “Not because it’s Gamble’s house, but because he was there Back to the future“.

And while having a house that’s somewhat “forbidden” isn’t great for site scouts like him, “it’s kind of a good thing, because we’re showing certain things that people are kind of interested in preserving,” Schuler says.

Other movie filming locations you can watch in “denas”

    • The home of Jamie Lee Curtis’ character from the movie “Halloween” in South Pasadena at 1103 Fairview Ave.
    • The house from the movie “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” (1985) at 1848 Oxley Street in South Pasadena
    • The Spanish-style mansion from the classic 1974 movie “Chinatown” is located at 1315 S. El Molino Ave. In Pasadena
    • From “Back to the Future”: George McFly’s house at 1711 Bushnell Avenue. and Lorraine’s home at 1727 Bushnell Avenue.
    • The “Father of the Bride” house from the 1991 movie: 843 South El Molino Ave. In Pasadena (the film was filmed in nearby San Marino)
    • Victorian-style home of Morgan Freeman’s character from the 1995 thriller “Seven”: 919 Columbia Street (presumably East Coast)
    • Colonial-style home of Jon Voight’s character from the “National Treasure” movies: 1030 Buena Vista Street (supposedly the Capital District)

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