City's appealing streets pull in producers
After a decadelong production drought, San Francisco is back in the game.
NBC’s new “Trauma” gives the city its first ongoing series since “Nash Bridges” shuttered. Production is centered at hangars-turned-soundstages located at a historic naval facility on San Francisco Bay’s Treasure Island (previously used for “Nash Bridges”). However, the skein lenses on location in town five out of eight days of filming.
“The city has welcomed us with open arms,” says Dario Scardapane, exec producer and creator of “Trauma.” He adds that the city of San Francisco has helped defray some expenses because qualifying productions, such as “Trauma,” are eligible for rebates of city payroll taxes and city fees — elements covered by the city’s three-year-old Scene in San Francisco rebate program.
“With (Mayor) Gavin Newsom, the city has been very film friendly,” adds the producer, citing the attractive rates offered for the Treasure Island facilities. The city has also reimbursed the show for the cost of police officers used for public safety.
Scardapane says he found the city’s crews to be topnotch. “We shoot here because of what San Francisco offers visually. There’s not a bad camera angle in this city.”
That said, the hilly and narrow streets posed some logistical challenges for large equipment trucks.
But for Stefanie Coyote, executive director of the San Francisco Film Commission, the mere sight of those trucks has been “uplifting.”
“It’s just fantastic to have a series again,” says the exec, a former location manager, noting that San Francisco gets scouted often but final projects don’t always materialize. “Milk” and the Sundance-screened “La mission” were the last features to lense in the area. One Oscar-winning director is scouting the area but his project is in the preliminary stages.
“Trauma” episodes often feature a complex setpiece as the show follows emergency personnel, and the dramatic disasters they encounter require intense pre-production. Coyote says the series pilot closed a key offramp of the I-280 Freeway for five days. “We did a lot of outreach and got very few phone calls,” Coyote says.
Recently, the show crashed an ambulance into a bus. “We’re tearing the city apart,” Scardapane says, “but with so much atmosphere and character in the locations, there’s an embarrassment of riches here.”