BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — One of the ways to deal with tough economic times is to attract new business to a community. Film production is one of the most coveted industries because it tends to be the cleanest in terms of not generating any form of pollution. It also brings new money to the community from companies traveling here from other areas.

The Kern County Film Commission issues in the neighborhood of 150 film permits per year on an average. These permits are for film production that ranges for pieces of feature films – such as the massively successful “Top Gun: Maverick” – to television commercials and music videos. (Scroll down for the list.)

The number of applications for permits in Kern County dropped during the COVID restrictions as it did across the country and around the world. But, the amount of production companies filing for applications now has risen back to the pre-pandemic levels.

Kern County benefits from being so close to all the production companies based in Los Angeles. Ally Soper, Chief Communications Officer, Kern County Administrative Office explains that one of the big reasons Kern County is so attractive to film crews is simply a matter of economics.

“In Kern County, we always want to remain competitive. Our objective for having low-cost film permits is to inspire tourism within Kern County, which generates local revenue and supports Kern County businesses,” Soper says. “When production companies choose our region for their project, their crews stay in our local hotels, eat at our restaurants, and shop at our stores. These local transactions produce money that stays within our region, bolstering our local economy.

“Our philosophy is that by making Kern County film permits accessible, we’re incentivizing film crews to shoot here, which strengthens our tourism industry and generates more revenue than increasing film permit fees.”

Although Kern County is close enough to Los Angeles that crews could come and go, that is not allowed under official guidelines. The California Film Commission has established a studio zone that is a 30-mile radius centered in Los Angeles used by union film projects to determine per diem rates and driving distances for crew members. Any filming done in an area that falls outside the zone requires the production company to pay for room and board for the cast and crew.

To help balance some of those expenses, the Kern County Film Commission provides location information and production service referrals. All permits – even for the use of public roads – are free and available through an on-line permitting system.

Soper adds, “Kern County film permits require a $100 permit from the Kern County Fire Department. This fee is extremely minimal compared to other counties, especially with our neighbors in Los Angeles, who charge hundreds if not thousands of dollars depending upon the project.”

Kern County has a long history of attracting film production including portions of “Iron Man,” “North by Northwest,” “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “Ocean’s 13,” “Herbie Fully Loaded,” “Jurassic Park” and “Thelma & Louise” being shot in the county.

The Kern County Film Commission works closely with the Ridgecrest Regional Film Commission and Tejon Ranch. The Ridgecrest Regional Film Commission has worked with large feature film crews and small crews shooting commercials. Among productions that have filmed in that area are portions of “Planet of the Apes,” “Westworld” and “A Wrinkle in Time.”

Crews that want to film on the 420 square miles of locations on Tejon Ranch deal with both the Kern County Film Commission and Christine Haze, director of special service for Tejon Ranch. Once she is approached by a crew looking to film at the ranch, she coordinates with the Kern County Film Commission for everything from permits to security to connecting with the fire department.

Haze says Tejon Ranch is very popular with those shooting car commercials. That is because there are rolling hills, mountain vistas, lone trees, private paved roads and wide open spaces with no visible powerlines.

“In 2021 we had 23 different production companies filming here,” Haze adds.

Tejon Ranch has been the location for Super Bowl commercials – including the 2000 one with cats being herded to promote EDS –  plus parts of the TV shows “Justified” and “Goliath.”

Those who work with film companies agree that luring such industry to Kern County is financially very important.

Soper says, “This does help our local economy tremendously, as this encourages our local tourism industry when local production crews set up shop, stay the night, and eat at our local restaurants.”

Here is a list of movies that were all or partially shot in Kern County in order of date:

  • “The Kid Ranger” (1936)
  • “Stagecoach” (1939)
  • “Boom Town” (1940)
  • “Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood” (1942)
  • “In Old Oklahoma” (1943)
  • “Winged Victory” (1994)
  • “The Defiant Ones” (1958)
  • “North by Northwest” (1959)
  • “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963)
  • “Five Easy Pieces” (1970)
  • “Westworld” (1973)
  • “A Woman Under the Influence” (1974)
  • “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble” (1976)
  • “The Onion Field” (1979)
  • “Mask” (1985)
  • “The Brady Bunch Movie” (1985)
  • “The Best of Times” (1986)
  • “Chopper Chicks in Zombietown” (1989)
  • “Too Young to Die” (1990)
  • “Hot Shots!” (1991)
  • “Thelma & Louise” (1991)
  • “Mom and Dad Save the World” (1992)
  • “Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman” (1993)
  • “Eye of the Stranger” (1993)
  • “Jurassic Park” (1993)
  • “Robot Wars” (1993)
  • “Pet Shop” (1994)
  • “Star Trek: Generations” (1994)
  • “Girl in the Cadillac” (1995)
  • “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” (1995)
  • “Bulletproof” (1996)
  • “For My Daughter’s Honor” (1996)
  • “The Brave” (1997)
  • “Nevada” (1997)
  • “Break Up” (1998)
  • “Best Laid Plans” (1999)
  • “Smart House” (1999)
  • “The Sender” (1998)
  • “Dinosaur” (2000)
  • “The Cell” (2000)
  • “Planet of the Apes” (2001)
  • “A Man Apart” (2003)
  • “Miracle Dogs” (2013)
  • “All That You Love” (2004)
  • “Frog-g-g!” (2004)
  • “The Gentleman Don La Mancha” (2004)
  • “Evil Grave: Curse of the Maya” (2004)
  • “Herbie Fully Loaded” (2005)
  • “Bone Dry” (2007)
  • “Destination Unknown” (2007)
  • “Ocean’s 13” (2007)
  • “Iron Man” (2008)
  • ‘Just Add Water” (2008)
  • “Texas Girl” (2008)
  • “Meteor” (2009)
  • “The Sugar Boxx” (2009)
  • “Desert Son” (2010)
  • “The Measure of a Man” (2011)
  • “Priest” (2011)
  • “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012)
  • “John Dies in the End” (2012)
  • “Geography Club” (2013)
  • “The Before Time” (2014)
  • “Alien Hunter” (2016)
  • “Crazy, Stupid, Love” (2017)
  • “Justice on the Border” (2011)
  • “The FP” (2011)
  • “August: Osage County” (2013)
  • “Avenged” (2013)
  • “Then Again” (2013)
  • “A Girl Walks Home at Night” (2014)
  • “Cruel and Unusual” (2014)
  • “The Woods” (2014)
  • “The Congress” (2015)
  • “Intersection” (2015)
  • “MacFarland, USA” (2015)
  • “Tantrum” (2017)
  • “The Shadows” (2017)
  • “Cannibal Corpse Killers” (2018)
  • “A Wrinkle in Time” (2018)
  • “The Man from Gath” (2019)
  • “Xenophobia” (2019)
  • “The Prom” (2020)
  • “Oildale” (2021)
  • “Top Gun: Maverick” (2022)