Why So Many Movies and TV Shows Are Filmed in Humboldt County

Movie and TV-making is big business. And a vital part of that business is location scouting. A location scout will search for ideal, and oftentimes spectacular locations based on the script and director’s needs. Enter Humboldt County. This renowned Northern California locale is prime property for film making, which explains why many movies and TV shows are filmed in Humboldt County, CA.

Filming Location Factors

Many factors make or break a filming location, such as overall aesthetic, logistic feasibility, permission from local authorities, and availability of parking and facilities. Weather is another factor to consider. Local weather conditions can either enhance or wreak havoc on production scheduling. But when all is said and done, the film location’s aesthetics will be front and center of the audience, which makes choosing the location so important. 

Humboldt County Filming History

Filming still shot of Lass of Lumberlands from early 20th centuryHumboldt County has been home to many films and TV shows from the last 100+ years, evidenced by this long list dating from 1916 to the present. Back in 1916, Lass of the Lumberlands was the first movie filmed on location in neighboring Eureka and Arcata. This silent film serial, which is unfortunately lost today, was directed by Paul Hurst and J. P. McGowan, and starred Helen Holmes. In 1937, Eureka set the stage for its first speaking film, Park Avenue Logger, directed by David Howard (later called, Tall Timber). 

Fast forward to the iconic 1980’s, and you’ll likely recall some famous titles, such as Halloween III: Season of the Witch (filmed in Loleta) and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (filmed in Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park). The hit TV series, Moonlighting, starring Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd, was filmed at the Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Eel River, and Scotia Bluffs. Then in 1997, the Academy Award-winning movie, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, used Patrick’s Point State Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park as the backdrop for many of its scenes. 

Filming in Humboldt County Today

During the 21st century, filmmakers continue to take their productions on location to Humboldt County. In 2018, Walt Disney Pictures produced A Wrinkle In Time in Eureka and Trinidad. Another literary classic, Call of the Wild, came to life on the big screen in 2020 after filming wrapped up in nearby Trinidad. And if you love a good murder mystery, then be sure to check out the true crime documentary TV series, Murder Mountain, which first aired in 2018, with scenes shot in Eureka. Overall, Humboldt-Del-Norte County hosts about 25 productions each year, including TV commercials and indie films.

What Makes Humboldt County Ideal for Filming

So, what makes Humboldt County the ideal backdrop for so many film productions? For starters, the area’s rural towns, forests, rivers and beaches are not only stunningly beautiful, but they can also double for other places, such as New England and even Scotland. More importantly, there is a special feeling here. You do not quite understand until you have walked through the Redwood Forest on a misty fall morning, spent a sunset in Trinidad with your loved ones, or watched the Eel River rage from The Riverwalk during a winter storm. The experience cannot really be explained, but through film this feeling can be shared, even if just for a moment! We have had multiple guests over the years come into Humboldt just to see where a certain movie was filmed – a movie that meant something so personal to them, they had to come see it for themselves. Needless to say, Humboldt County is very special. 

During your next visit to Humboldt County, book a room at The Redwood in Fortuna, CA, the gateway to Humboldt County’s must-see attractions. After a filling Redwood breakfast, head out with this guide map to visit some of these filming locations.

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