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Speculation surrounds sale of the Blue Cloud Movie Ranch

Posted: March 4, 2014 6:51 p.m.
Updated: March 4, 2014 6:51 p.m.

Members of the U.S. forces team hold a position as they take fire from air soft weapons in the hands of hostile forces on a hill above them during Army Birthday Combat Experience war games held at Blue Cloud Movie Ranch in Santa Clarita.

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After a nearly two year absence from the market, Blue Cloud Movie Ranch in Santa Clarita is back up for sale, listed at $7.5 million.

The 100 acre ranch, owned and operated by Rene Veluzat since 2000, has been used as a filming location for many TV, movie and film projects.

And very soon, the movie ranch is about to be annexed into the second of the city’s movie overlay zones, said an official with the city of Santa Clarita.

“We’re in the process of annexing it into the city,” said Jason Crawford, economic development manager for the city. “That should be finalized in the next six to eight weeks.”

The movie overlay zones allow the city to take over the film permitting process from FilmL.A., which coordinates the permitting process for the greater Los Angeles region – at substantially higher fees than are charged by the city of Santa Clarita. The city also turns permits far more quickly.

But, the new sales price, listed at half of the $15 million it was listed for in 2012, caused some to wonder whether runaway production filming has had an effect on the value of the property.

Neither the owner Renee Veluzat, nor the listing agent Gail Copp with Realty Executives, will comment on the reason for the sale prompting the speculation.

“We still do busy get here,” said Steve Arkin, owner of the 200-acre A Rancho Deluxe Movie Ranch located in Placerita Canyon. “Local TV filming is still here.”

Much of the feature filming has left for other states luring productions with substantial incentives not offered in California. Runaway production has slowed feature movie filming at his ranch for the past couple years, he said.

But, Rancho Deluxe Movie Ranch still gets a lot of TV projects and filming for commercials, along with a few feature films, Arkin said. Enough business, he said, that he intends to continue operating as a movie ranch.

Daniel Veluzat is a member of the Veluzat family which includes Renee, Renaud and Andre Veluzat, all longtime residents of the Santa Clarita Valley, and all own and operate movie ranches locally.

“I can say we are very busy – probably as busy as we have been in many, many years,” said Daniel Veluzat of the Veluzat Motion Picture Ranch and of Melody Ranch, owned by Renaud and Andre.

“We just recently shot an episode of “The Mentalist” at Melody Ranch and then turned right around and did another episode on the back lot on the Veluzat Motion Picture Ranch,” he said.

That same TV series also filmed locally on Town Center Drive in Santa Clarita, where Monica Harrison, owner of L.A. Film Locations managed the logistics for that town-center shoot involving the explosion of a bus bench. Cross pollination occurs frequently between the local film studios, movie ranches and on location filming in Santa Clarita, according to the local industry experts who work with each other to keep filming active in the region.

In an SCV Business Journal industry roundtable discussion last September, Adam Gilbert, director of corporate real estate for Disney, and the nearly 900 acre Golden Oaks Ranch movie ranch, said there is a lot of cooperation between the local filming entities. Sometimes one studio or ranch is booked, and the Golden Oaks Ranch has a huge table filled with business cards for other local businesses.

“From afar, people think it’s competitive like a sports team, but it’s really not. As the industry grows in Santa Clarita, we realize it’s better for everybody,” Gilbert said.

Crawford calls the support between studios and ranches “coopertition” – meaning they compete, but they also cooperate with each other to keep filming locally, he said.

Harrison expects filming to only grow locally with expanded filming capacity at Golden Oak Ranch movie ranch, which was just approved in January to build up to build 12 sound stages.

“I think there are going to be shows based there that will be looking for more local locations here in Santa Clarita” she said. “They’re not going to shoot everything at Disney. They’ll look around and filming is going to grow exponentially. I think it’s going to be great.”

If one location is busy, they’ll send a film company over to a competitor because they would all rather see another production in Santa Clarita, Crawford said.

“Each one helps drive the other and you’ve got a whole ecosystem that is more successful,” he said.

While filming Fox television series “Bones,” recently renewed for its 10th season, on A Rancho Deluxe Movie Ranch, Rancho Maria and Sable Ranch in April 2013, location manager, Stephen Weissberger, said he’s used the SCV ranches several times because they’re so film-friendly.

“They’ve become an extension of the production team,” Weissberger said. “They never say ‘No.’ They always come up with innovative ways to make something work.”

As for film work between the sound studios like Santa Clarita Studios, which has full post-production setup, and the movie ranches’ filming has stayed equally busy at both, said Daniel Veluzat. Film crews may be filming in the sound stages at the studios, and at the same time using the local movie ranches to capture the vast exteriors that they need, he said.

“We’re very excited the way this year has started off,” he said. “We really look forward to continuing with much success this year.”

But, Crawford says that if it weren’t for the other states taking filming away from California, the ranches would be doing much better than they are now.

As for the sale of the Blue Cloud Movie Ranch, the owners approached the city a couple years ago to be included in a movie overlay zone, Crawford said. The first zone annexed the Sable, Rancho Maria and Rancho Deluxe movie ranches.

But, while neither the owner or Realtor is talking, Crawford said he’s also heard that Blue Cloud – like the other local movies ranches – still have been doing very well, often times filming more than one project in a day on the same ranch.

“They’ve been pretty quiet about the details of the sale, but we’ve heard that are interested parties,” he said.

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