Sundance, Here We Come

The country’s premier festival for independent films is about to be treated to a feature that was filmed right here in San Mateo County. “Swiss Army Man,” starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame, debuts at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival and is just one of numerous commercial productions shot in the region.

Who knew that San Mateo is an outpost for Hollywood and indie filmmaking and TV? According to the San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Film Commission, which is a department within the San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, some recent stand-outs are:

  • Terminator Genisys,” the fifth in the Terminator series, shot scenes at the Oracle Offices in Redwood Shores.
  • The Boat Builder,” an indie production starring Christopher Lloyd (best known for the TV Show Taxi and Back to the Future franchise), was shot in Pacifica.
  • ABC Family Channel’s reality drama “Draper U” was shot primarily at the eponymous startup college in Downtown San Mateo.
  • And making for a viral social media moment, Daniel Radcliffe sang karaoke at Half Moon Bay’s Cameron’s Inn. The British actor was letting off some steam during off-hours from filming “Swiss Army Man.”

Other recent major feature film productions that had portions shot in the region include “Chasing Mavericks,” “The Master,” “The Internship,” and “JOBS,” as well as numerous independent films, commercials, documentaries, TV shows, and still shoots.

But it’s “Swiss Army Man” that will be featured at Sundance, which runs from January 21 – 31 in Park City, Utah. The film’s production company, Blackbird Films, booked over 800 hotel rooms in San Mateo County/Silicon Valley during their shoot. The company hired local caterers and film industry professionals, and the production crew ate in local restaurants, hired local cars, used local services and paid land owners filming location fees to film on their properties.

Brena Bailey, Film Commissioner with the San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Film Commission, notes that the Commission offers a variety of services for the film industry, including pre-location scouting services, a digital photo library and local film industry referrals.

The region boasts prime locations, according to Bailey. “We have a tremendous variety of breathtaking bay and coastal vistas, picturesque lighthouses, scenic country roads, giant redwoods, magnificent mansions with romantic gardens, city scenes and country towns…  From high tech to high corn, numerous popular filming locations are used for all forms of media.”

“Swiss Army Man” is the “story of Hank, a hopeless man stranded in the wild, who discovers a mysterious dead body. Together, the two embark on an epic journey to get home.”

If you don’t have your tix to Sundance, it’s a safe bet the film will make it to local theaters (and streaming sites) over the next few months. And then we all can play “name that location!”

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