Could Sacramento become California's newest Tinseltown? – SFGate

Sacramento is itching for a Hollywood makeover.

More Midwestern than coastal cosmopolitan, Sacramento often receives little positive recognition despite being the capital city of America’s most populous state.

But fresh excitement for the city has cropped up thanks to the success of the Sacramento-based “Lady Bird.” The movie follows a teenager navigating her last days of high school and recently won two Golden Globe awards.

With national attention now raining down on Sacramento, city officials are working to woo more film crews to the area.

“It’s the opportunity to leverage the attention and bring more filmmaking to Sacramento,” Visit Sacramento CEO Mike Testa said. “We are getting a lot of attention from that one film.”

The state’s capital is no stranger to the screen — scenes from “American Beauty” and “Memoirs of a Geisha” were filmed there, along with parts of TV series such as “Big Love” — but it lacks a reputation for being a moviemaking hub.

But this may be changing. Testa said Sacramento has a unique filming advantage over more iconic American cities in that it can be a stand-in for any middle-American location.

“San Francisco is hard to be anything but San Francisco,” he said. “There’s a diverse landscape here that fits into a lot of different movies.”

And it’s cheap too. The Sacramento Film Commission only charges $100 for a monthly film permit compared to the $300 daily permits for big-budget filming in San Francisco. The commission also works with police on road closures to aid filmmakers.

But more importantly, hotels and restaurants are less expensive than those of San Francisco or Los Angeles, which can help tip the scales for producers trying to stay within budget, said Film Commissioner Lucy Steffens.

“Films are often dictated by budget,” she said.

To attract more film crews to the area, Steffens said she has been visiting production companies in Santa Monica and trade shows to meet with producers and directors.

“We have been very active in the L.A. area,” she said. “We try to go where the meeting centers are.”

Testa said “Lady Bird” had a major economic impact on Sacramento, generating approximately $50,000 of business each day of filming based on money spent on restaurants, hotels, rental cars, commercial retail and other factors, a phenomenon he would like to repeat.

Due to hit theaters in March, the Clint Eastwood movie “15:17 To Paris” is partially set in Sacramento. The movie follows the three American servicemen who foiled a 2015 terrorist attack on a train from Amsterdam to Paris.

Two of the three servicemen grew up in the Sacramento area, and Testa said he’s optimistic “15:17 To Paris” will continue to heap more cinematic attention to the city.

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