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6 Magical Film Shoot Locations in Pasadena

Pasadena has been repeatedly featured in films loved by audiences worldwide, including La La Land and Back to the Future. For showstopping scenes like those featured in these titles, bookmark the spots below!

Romantic scenes at the Huntington Botanical Gardens

The Huntington Botanical Gardens are just one part of a bigger complex, including the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Each facet of this 207-acre estate — which originally belonged to one of America’s railroad magnates, Henry E. Huntington — is a visual testament to Pasadena’s rich history and culture.

The gardens themselves encompass about 120 acres in total, featuring 165 distinct themes and environments.

Take your viewers on a botanical journey through the following sites:

  • California Garden
  • Australian Garden
  • Camellia Garden
  • Chinese Garden
  • Japanese Garden
  • and more!

All 15,000 plant species at the Huntington form a perfectly delicate environment in which your actors can share romantic, tender moments that your viewers will never forget.

Film in Old Pasadena for a cultural touch

Moviegoers love watching films that take place in times long passed. Yet, you can only execute such stories successfully if the setting is right. This is what makes Old Pasadena perfect for such stories.

Old Pasadena is a place overflowing with monuments of the city’s cultural heritage. Located in the downtown district, it’s full of architecture dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries.

Caretakers have continued development and revitalization since its start in the late 1800s. Now, this stretch of Pasadena is cemented as a symbol of California’s “Golden Age” in the National Register of Historic Districts.

Not making a historical production? No problem! This location doubles as the perfect venue for capturing bustling city life. It’s home to the Summer Cinema, where artists hold regular film festivals, and the Pasadena Playhouse, a celebrated landmark of the performing arts.

Breathtaking natural scenes at Eaton Canyon

Few things are as impactful in filmmaking as breathtaking natural scenes. Choosing the right landscapes for your scenes can transport your viewers to another world, increasing their immersion and drawing them deeper into the story. Eaton Canyon is one of those locations.

This venue works beautifully for a variety of genres. For those shooting nature documentaries or similar films, the Eaton Canyon Natural Area offers 190 acres of earthly splendor in its various plant and animal species, along with the unique geography.

Filmmakers focusing on their human characters instead can enjoy the incredible backdrops throughout the area, such as the rugged San Gabriel Mountains or the Canyon habitats, decorated by sage, prickly pear cactus, and monkeyflowers.

For a more educational approach, visit the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. There is 7,600 square feet of enlightening displays, and you may even get to capture a live animal on camera.

Create a modern urban feel at Colorado Street Bridge

Bridges can infuse a touch of symbolism into your film shoot. You can use these architectural landmarks to convey any of the following messages to your audience:

  • The beginning or continuation of communication and union between two leading characters
  • Crossing into a new chapter in life
  • The connection between the self and a higher power, or heaven and Earth
  • Transitioning from one state to another
  • A character’s desire for change or growth in their maturity or perceptions

For these reasons and more, the Colorado Street Bridge is an essential piece to include in one or more of your scenes.

Atop this bridge, you can capture sweeping views of both Pasadena and Los Angeles, perfect for landscape shots and expositional sequences.

Below is the Arroyo Seco, a seasonal river that travels through the two neighboring cities, providing a beautiful natural touch to an otherwise industrial backdrop.

Globally acclaimed films such as La La Land have taken advantage of the Colorado Street Bridge’s breathtaking scenery.

Dreamy film production sites in Descanso Gardens

Descanso Gardens is the perfect location for filmmakers who aim to juxtapose scenes of busy metropolitan life with serene moments in botanical settings.

The Gardens are less than 20 miles away from Los Angeles, making them incredibly easy to access once you’re done shooting in lively urban environments.

Whether you aim to craft a tranquil scene of self-reflection, a gorgeous wedding sequence, or a life-changing romantic moment, Descanso Gardens is the perfect venue.

Its charm is due in part to the elegant beauty of the cherry trees that grace the grounds of the Japanese Garden. Still, there are more than 1,600 plant varieties to breathe life into your shot alongside these trees, including:

  • Winter camellias
  • Daffodils
  • Tulips
  • Azaleas
  • Irises
  • And many more

Make sure to plan your shoot according to the season, to reinforce the film’s setting in a particular time of year, if needed. This way, you can catch the flowers in their optimal growing season.

Take a peek into the past at the Gamble House

Historical households are among filmmakers’ favorite venues for telling eerie tales or heartwarming family stories on the other end of the spectrum. The Gamble House is the perfect location for both and everything in-between.

On the family-friendly side, you can take your cues from the beloved classic, Back to the Future, which used the Gamble House as the stage for Doc Brown’s infamous lab.

However, there is a catch: Interior filming is not permitted at this venue, so you’ll have to get creative and use the outside to set the scene, then transfer to the closely related Blacker House, crafted by the same architects.

If you want to venture toward the spookier side of things, take advantage of the dark palate and shadows cast by the unique roofing to inspire suspense in your audience.

Infuse the magic and history of Pasadena into your film

Awe-inspiring natural scenes, historical landmarks, and showstopping architectural feats are in abundance within the city of Pasadena.

To ensure your feature film stands out from all others, visit any of these locations or search through available Pasadena film production venues today.

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  • VIPIN SAINI April 19, 2021 at 3:20 am

    Hi Nastasia,
    Great Post! These locations are really gorgeous. Would love to spend some quality vacation here! Thanks for sharing these!

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