Hollywood in San Francisco: Location Shooting as Industry Practice and Urban Aesthetic
From the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s, San Francisco was the third most popular American city for Hollywood location work. Yet unlike filmmaking centers like Los Angeles and New York, it lacked state-of the-art production facilities. Unlike today, it offered no direct financial incentives. Instead, San Francisco promised scenery, proximity, and by the late 1960s, a countercultural zeitgeist. The city’s popular heyday coincided with another milestone: two decades of changes in technology, industry structure, and filmmaking practice finally put the cost of location shooting on par with soundstage production. These factors also coincided with America’s deepening urban crisis. Offscreen, San Francisco was an exception to urban blight, but onscreen, a boom in the police genre depicted an increasingly violent and downtrodden city in Bullitt, Dirty Harry, andThe Streets of San Francisco.
In this talk, Josh Gleich will present research from his book, Hollywood in San Francisco: Location Shooting and the Aesthetics of Urban Decline . He will address some of the larger questions that animate his research. How did location shooting develop from an ancillary to a dominant filmmaking practice? How has location shooting helped crystalize the popular urban imaginary? And how has the tension between the control of the studio and the dramatic appeal of locations impacted Hollywood film and television production in the past and present?
Joshua Gleich is Assistant Professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Television at the University of Arizona. He is author of Hollywood in San Francisco: Location Shooting and the Aesthetics of Urban Decline, from U. of Texas Press (2018) and co-editor of Hollywood on Location: An Industry History, from Rutgers U. Press (2019). He received his PhD in Radio-Television-Film from University of Texas-Austin in 2014.