Movie and television production at Bob Hope Airport has generated roughly $100,000 during the past six months for the airfield as studios use it as a backdrop — one TV series even transformed it into three airports, including one in Mumbai, India.
Filming was prohibited at Bob Hope Airport after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2011, but airport officials decided to open their doors to production companies again this spring in hopes of generating needed funds as they deal with declining parking revenues and passenger counts.
Crews for the revived series “Arrested Development,” which will be released on Netflix next year, brought in tuk-tuks — a type of motorized rickshaw — to help turn the outside baggage claim area at the Burbank airport into an airfield in Mumbai, said property officer Madeleine Zavala, who has taken on the added responsibility of coordinating film shoots.
Actors in Indian garb and signs in Hindi script gave the scene its finishing touches.
“It’s going to look really good on film,” Zavala said, adding that several “Arrested Development” stars, including Jason Bateman and Portia de Rossi, were on the set.
The airfield was also turned into John Wayne and Phoenix SkyHarbor airports in about nine hours on the same day, she added.
Sofia Coppola used Bob Hope Airport to bring some reality to her upcoming film “Bling Ring,” which is based on actual events involving teens who burglarized several celebrities’ homes, beginning with Paris Hilton’s residence.
“In reality, the female leader of the group did fly out of here,” Zavala said. She was later arrested in Las Vegas.
The scene was filmed in and around a car parked at the curb at Terminal B, which is usually used for film shoots instead of the much busier Terminal A.
For one film shoot, a mock security checkpoint was built, and it looked so real that passengers began lining up to go through it, Zavala said.
“Quickly, our operations team had to queue them over to the real checkpoint,” she added.
“Grey’s Anatomy” filmed its upcoming season premiere in the back portion a vacant hangar at the airport, Zavala said.
She couldn’t divulge which stars took part in the shoot, however, because last season’s cliffhanger ended with a plane crash and fans don’t know who will return.
The airport receives between 20 and 25 calls a week from production companies expressing interest in filming, Zavala said, adding that the airfield averages about four film projects a month.
Besides the additional revenue, the film shoots are drawing the attention of passengers, particularly tourists who may later pay money for a studio tour, but they get to see a live film shoot for free right after they get off the plane.
“For us, living in Hollywood, it’s not such a big deal, but for people from other places, it is a big deal. For a lot of those people, it’s their first time,” she said.
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