The last stop on our California prison tour was the Mira Loma Detention Center. BEAUTIFUL guard towers. Currently housing INS detainees, only the older, inactive portion is free for filming, but as the deputy assured us “filming is fine, as long as there isn’t a riot and we need these cells for emergency housing. ….But that probably won’t happen.”
Good to know.
So that’s the tour of SoCal prisons, at least as they now stand (there are rumors that Lincoln Heights might get uncondemmed – is that possible?)
While no single facility has everything we need, there are possibilities if we combine many places – Frankenstein-prisons! The Magic of Filmmaking!
But we’ll have to see what else we find out there before we decide. Many thanks to the LA Sheriff’s Department who is very film-friendly – who would you rather spend your day monitoring, prisoners or movie crews?
We are also extending our search beyond California, so stay tuned!
Back to downtown LA, this time to the 10/710 interchange and the Sybil Brand Women’s Institute.
Being the nearest closed jail to Los Angeles (now that the infamous Lincoln Heights is condemned), Sybil Brand is the go-to prison for every LA-based TV show and movie. We saw cells used by WEEDS and the “US Embassy” set from Syriana. The asbestos removal crew had a great time showing us a hallway of doors, only one of which was real (Many thanks to the final season of 24).
The best though, was the suitcase hallway. One level was being used to train drug canines, so the quarter-mile hallway had a suitcase every five feet all the way down. Surreal.
But then again, you’re already remarking at the elegance of the guard stations, so it’s just another day in LA.
As Emily and I continue to circle Southern California looking for exciting prison locations, where will we go next? NORTH!
Pitchess Detention Center is a large ranch and jail and work camp up near Castiac on the 5 Freeway. Apparently we booted the only two inmates of the “almost” empty North block out for the day so we could walk around (Check the LA TIMES Article). Many thanks, fellas!
The very cool North block Sally Port recently played a New Jersey jail (House season 7.18 “the Dig”) and the Pitchess horse ranch is Kentucky for NCIS.
Lots to see and a likely location, but a serious drive from LA!
As we continue the search for the elusive closed, film-friendly prison, Emily and I reach out of Southern California and into the Central Valley…
On a trip South from the Bay Area, Emily and I stop to tour the Fresno Tenth Street Juvenile Facility. Closed about five years ago, [for inhumane treatment violations!] it doubled well as a prison. Awesomely scary.
But five years of abandonment and flocks of dedicated pigeons will leave a building in pretty gnarly shape, so we were very glad to be wearing closed-toed shoes!
Verdict: Some interesting layouts. Scary first floor and yards. Far away.
Yay Prisons! That’s the crazy life of Hollywood, folks – you find yourself excited to see cellblocks and razor-wire, but when you’re making a prison movie you need… well… A prison.
[We strongly note our objections to flaws in the justice system and are trying to illuminate those issues through this film, but… We need a prison to shoot in to do that]
So, Cell Blocks or Bust!
Chapter Two is the world of California Prisons. Bless the Golden State, she does know how to incarcerate.
It is not possible to shoot in CA prison or any active spaces (a good thing – don’t need anyone killed with a pencil stamped “Property of Warner Brothers”). So we are scouting inactive and/or closed facilities that allow film crews.
First stop, Fred C. Nelles.
Nelles is a closed juvenile facility near LA. They’ve got houses, dorms, cafeterias, two chapels, offices – and because juveniles should not be left out of the lockup game, they’ve also got a prison. [Note earlier objections] Two high-security blocks, set back in a field of grass as high as your waist.
Pretty cool, could really work as our hero’s cell block. Next?