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Fake store makes real cash

Posted: May 1, 2009 10:00 p.m.
Updated: May 2, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Erik Stapelfeldt rolls the cameras into the building where a crew sets up to shoot a Pizza Hut commercial at the Gateway Promenade in Valencia on Thursday.

The inside of the Pizza Hut at the Gateway Promenade was buzzing with activity Thursday afternoon, with workers rushing to and fro.

But there was a catch. The ovens were fake, the walls were a facade — the entire place was assembled in three days, because it was a film set.

An empty storefront was converted into a Pizza Hut mock-up and on Thursday a film crew used it to shoot a national commercial set to air in August, said Monica Harrison of L.A. Film Locations.

The Valencia resident’s company represents real-estate owners throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, acting as a middleman of sorts between the property owners and studios that need locations.

L.A. Film Locations also provides site management on the day of the shoot.

The Gateway Promenade shopping center located on The Old Road just south of Highway 126 has remained empty since being completed last year, and Harrison said she recently talked the owners into opening it up to the film industry.

“Before, they didn’t want to bother with it,” she said.

With storefronts sitting empty, she said any filming business is good business for the property owners these days.

“The owner is happy just to have any income,” she said.

Harrison started her company in 2003 and said that despite the dismal state of the economy, she’s getting plenty of calls from property owners who want to work with her.

When it comes to the filming of commercials, she said there aren’t as many being filmed and that production companies are much more budget-conscious than in the past.

Other recent productions for which L.A. Film Locations has done site management include “24,” “NCIS,” “Dollhouse” and “Heroes.”

Harrison worked in commercial real estate and asset management for roughly 20 years, and said the transition to working with the film industry was an easy one.

“I just kind of slid right into it,” she said. “It’s more fun (and) it’s very rewarding.”


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