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Hollywood Loves Sonoma County Locations

Updated on May 15, 2011
Movie set in Petaluma. White part is simulated snow. The movie, Inventing the Abbots (1997). Cars are from the 50s.
Movie set in Petaluma. White part is simulated snow. The movie, Inventing the Abbots (1997). Cars are from the 50s.

Sonoma County with its wondrous and divergent landscapes have attracted Hollywood producers and directors for on-location filming since 1914, with the silent, " Salomy Jane" filmed in, then, the small town of Petaluma. TV and movie scouts looking for the old time look of America from 1930-70, have been especially attracted to Petaluma, now a much larger city. The attraction is because of the architecture of many of its buildings dating back to the 30's that line the main avenue.  The most popular specific spot in the downtown area is along Western Avenue. with proper changes in clothing and cars, the small section of the downtown becomes a time machine that transports the viewers to the 40's-50's, as it did in Ron Howard's film, Inventing the Abbots (1997). The same was true for the iconic George Lucas Film, American Graffiti, then, actor, Ron Howard, was riding old cars down its 60's looking main drag. Other sought locations for filming include Petaluma Boulevard, Mountain View from the river and south to Oak\Lakeville Streets. These spots provide an "all-American" look for filmmakers and advertisers from Ralph Lauren, Levi's,Pillsbury. Petaluma has been a busy place so far this year.

Petaluma has attracted directors, Clint Eastwood, George Lucas, Ron Howard, Paul Verhoeven, and Francis Coppola. Coppola shot most of, Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) in and around the city at 226 Liberty St. The film's setting was 1960 and there was no better place to capture America at that time. Other locations used were 120 Petaluma Blvd. North and 101 kentucky Street. Ron Howard in 1996, used the Mystic Theatre for Haley's an Mcnear's Restaurant was used for Lake Hotel.

Films and commercials are abundant using the iconic architecture that exists along Western Avevue  between Kentucky street and Petaluma Boulevard, some were built in 1885. The new TV show, "Split Ends", a hair salon reality show, is being filmed there at 18 Petaluma Blvd. North instead of in SF.

Sonoma County is the site for many car commercials due to the rolling oak studded hills, golden grass and slightly curvy roads through vineyards. Santa Rosa has been a host to several movies including two by Alfred Hitchcock (one from the 40's and The Birds in 1962). Tony Curtis filmed, "Little Miss Marker" in the 80s. Bodega and Bodega Bay along the coast were also used in Hitchcock's, The Birds. 

The new movie, Judy Moody and the Not So Bummer Summer, was filmed in and around Sebastopol and its book author is one of its residents, Megan McDonald, author of some 60 titles, the former county librarian was shocked when she found out that one her children's books would be made into a movie. Her first book was in 1990. Judy Moody is based on her own daughter's antics and is produced by those that created, Precious, who discovered the book when their own daughter was reading the book.


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