Posted Apr 28, 2020 | By Janis Flippen
Ready, Set, Action! Oxnard takes to the screen with these films, TV shows, commercials and more shot in Oxnard.
If you watch movies and television or browse through glossy magazines, you have likely seen Oxnard onscreen. Its beaches, historic downtown and neighborhoods have served as backdrops in major productions.
Oxnard’s debut in the film industry started early when the blockbuster, The Sheik starring Rudolph Valentino was filmed in 1921. Even though Tinseltown was miles away, by the mid 1920s, the Hollywood brand was so strong that communities throughout Southern California were claiming it.
Oxnard was no exception. Oxnard Beach became known as ‘Hollywood by the Sea’ where it was transformed into an Arabian desert replete with paper mache palm trees for The Sheik. Around the same time, Douglas Fairbanks spent time on the same dunes while filming “Bound in Morocco.”
Legendary Clark Gable was rumored to have lived in at least two houses on Oxnard’s beaches. Locals recall sightings of Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo who vacationed here. Romantic swashbuckler and Hollywood playboy Errol Flynn owned Oxnard’s historic pagoda house in Hollywood Beach.
The steps leading up to the Carnegie Art Museum could be seen on the 1970s hit TV show, Dan August. Actor Burt Reynolds, who played August, ran up the iconic museum steps at the beginning of this popular American crime drama series.
Oxnard was also the setting for scenes from the popular 1990s TV show, Melrose Place. The series played out the lives and loves of young adults with dramatic elements every week. Scenes were captured along Capri Way in Oxnard Shores, where the actors occupied a beach house.
Other popular productions that have captured images of Oxnard include Big Little Lies, Spartacus, Clueless, Sideways, Bridesmaids and Back to the Future Part III. There are additional films that have scenes from Oxnard and throughout Ventura County listed online at the Ventura County Film Commission. Have fun browsing through the list of well-known movies and productions.
Oxnard continues to be a sought-after location for many movies and TV programs. In 2022, Hulu's hit series Pam & Tommy filmed its iconic Mexico wedding scenes at Zachari Dunes at Mandalay Beach and Oxnard Beach Park. And the Pepsi Superbowl Half-Time Show featuring Oxnard's own Anderson .Paak on drums was preceded by a trailer featuring Dr. Dre walking the length of McGrath State Beach.
In 2017, FOX filmed the Rosewood TV series in Downtown Oxnard's historic Plaza Park. In 2018, Oxnard was captured in Bad Times at the El Royale; Captain Marvel, which was filmed next to HAAS Motorsports’ car racing location and The Rookies TV series, which was filmed in Downtown Oxnard. Productions filmed in Oxnard in 2019 included the Apple TV series Stockton in addition to Live After Lock Up. The Dating Game was also filmed at Seabridge in 2019, in addition to a couple of music videos.
In 2019, Tommy Bahama, Trina Turk and CARMAX shot TV commercials in Oxnard. As of 2020, two commercials are in the works, including a commercial for the California Lottery, which is filming at The Collection at RiverPark, and an international car commercial for Japan. Oxnard has also graced the pages and even the covers of fashion magazines like Vogue, featuring celebrities like Zendaya.
The most desirable film locations include the Oxnard Beach Park, The Collection, Downtown Oxnard and Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach. Other sought-after locations include Channel Islands Harbor, Heritage Square, River Ridge Golf Club, Seabridge and the Oxnard Transit Center.
The City of Oxnard welcomes motion picture production companies, television shows, commercials, still photography and student productions. Many producers and directors from Hollywood and other film-making capitals travel to Oxnard to take advantage of the film-friendly environment and points of interest. With its easy rail and freeway access, and low production costs, it’s a win-win for both the City and producers.
Production companies looking to film in Oxnard are required to obtain a permit through the City of Oxnard. In addition to the cost to acquire a general film permit, productions would need to acquire a fire permit. A location fee, multi-day fee and paid parking may also apply. Depending on the type of filming and activities, other various fees could apply.
The City approves about 80% of the film permits after the applications go through a thorough review process. Review includes assessment of the roles of the fire and police departments. It also includes evaluation of types of insurances needed and risk management. The City might reject a permit if it found that the project would result in adverse impacts to the community (e.g., traffic). The City might also reject a permit if the proposed location is surrounded by County property or is County owned.
If seeking a film permit from City of Oxnard, please email Samantha Shapiro with City of Oxnard. If seeking a film permit from an Oxnard location under County of Ventura jurisdiction, please email the County Film Coordinator.
Oxnard is an ideal location for filmmakers and production specialists. Close to Los Angeles, its coastal beaches, picturesque vistas and unique settings continue to draw filmmakers, captivating and inspiring the perfect shot.
Janis Flippen has an extensive career in public relations, specializing in tourism. Agency experience includes Bob Thomas & Associates and Carl Terzian Associates in Century City. She has represented Oxnard, Ventura, Ojai, Santa Clarita and Lompoc.