From the earliest days of film Hollywood has loved Fillmore and the Santa Clara Valley. Historic Rancho Camulos was the setting for "Ramona" one of the first feature films. Directed by D W Griffins in 1910, starring Mary Pickford as Ramona and Henry B Walthall as Alessandro the film is based on the book written by Helen Hunt Jackson. It uses the story of two young lovers to illustrate the poor treatment of California’s Native Americans. Camulos became known as the “Home of Ramona.” Due to the popularity of the film it became a regular tourist stop for travelers.
Because of our rural charm and proximity to Hollywood our little town is regularly transformed with props and sets. A 1924 photo shows Fillmore Chief of Police Earl Hume astride a motorcycle on Central along with Cowboy film star Tom Mix. Central Avenue was filled in with sand and cactus to transform Fillmore into 1940’s Arizona for the 1987 film "In the Mood," starring Patrick Dempsey. In the 1984 IMAX documentary "Speed" by director Greg McGillivray a hot rod races around town, outruns the police, crashes into a bale of hay at the Sanitary Dairy, and Fillmore is Fresno. For the 1990 film "Almost an Angel" starring Paul Hogan many parts of Fillmore were used including a house on Foothill Drive, Roan Mills Bakery’s building, and the Town Theater. An entire church was built over Dr. Beer’s dental office on Kensington.
Dustin Hoffman was the main character in the 1992 film "Hero". For the plane crash scene at the beginning of the movie a wrecked 727 airplane was trucked from Mojave to the site by the bridge on Center Street in Piru. Gas lines and explosives filled the river bed with smoke and fire for this dramatic scene. Two large sets were built for the 1982 film "Chaplin". A replica of the studios used by Mack Sennett was built on a bare field in Bardsdale and the Sanitary Dairy had a face lift for another part of the movie. Watch "La Bamba" and you will see many Fillmore sites including the row of palm trees on highway 23 and the green bridge crossing the Santa Clara River.
What do "Seabiscuit", "The Lone Ranger", and "Fear Factor" have in common? They all used the Fillmore and Western Railway for filming. In 1991 Short Line Enterprises moved their filming from Newhall Ranch to Fillmore and in 1996 it became a division of FWRY. Using tracks leased from the Ventura County Transportation Commission over 400 films, TV series, music videos, student films, and commercials have been filmed using the Railway. Disney built the tunnel on the east end of town for filming in 2008.
The Depot at the Fillmore Historical Museum has been featured in many movies. It has been an Eastern European town for "JAG" in 1998 and 2003. Using model trains and real trains the depot and other Fillmore locations were used for a Coke commercial. The train station in "City Slickers 2" features the Depot. "Buffy the Vampire" even paid a visit to the Depot. An internet search for “Film Production List, Fillmore, California” will bring up pages of films, TV shows, and commercials that have been filmed in Fillmore. White trailers and yellow parking signs are a regular sight around town. They let us know that film crew have come to town again.