Longtime Venice resident and author Harry Medved will appear for a book signing and film clip screening from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, August 13th, at Vidiots Video, 302 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, in association with his new book Hollywood Escapes: The Moviegoer’s Guide to Exploring Southern California’s Great Outdoors.
St. Martin’s Griffin, a division of St. Martin’s Press, is the publisher of Hollywood Escapes, which was released in July.
Following the signing and screening, Medved and film location scouts will host a walking tour at 4 p.m. of Venice Beach and Santa Monica State Beach sites where some of Hollywood’s most popular films were shot.
Both events are free and open to the public.
The walking tour, which lasts approximately one hour, will include local sites that have appeared in Fletch, Swing Shift, Species, The Net, The Sting, Forrest Gump, Funny Girl, Mildred Pierce, Friends With Money and Thank You For Smoking.
The fictional film production site of Aqua-Man featured in HBO’s satire of Hollywood agents, Entourage, will also be on the walking tour.
At Vidiots Video, guests can see film clips of each site on the walking tour and how the site was presented on film.
Medved has directed public relations for the Screen Actors Guild, Warner Bros. Online and Yahoo! Movies. He currently serves as head of publicity for Fandango, a movie ticketing Web site.
He previously co-authored four books on bad movies with his older brother, Michael Medved — The Fifty Worst Films of All Time, The Golden Turkey Awards, The Hollywood Hall of Shame and Son of Golden Turkey Awards.
Hollywood Escapes co-author Bruce Akiyama, Medved’s childhood friend, has worked in motion picture advertising and has written episodes for Curious George, Maya & Miguel and Arthur. Akiyama received a Daytime Emmy Award and a Peabody Award for Arthur.
“My buddy Bruce and I grew up in Southern California and constantly saw camera crews everywhere,” Medved said. “As teenagers, we would stop what we were doing and follow the crew to see what movies they were making.”
Even now as adults, Medved and Akiyama’s fascination with films and film locations give them the urge to be unofficial tour guides to family and friends who visit Southern California.
“I have been playing unofficial tour guide for years,” Medved said.
“My wife Michelle is from South Africa and I would give her a long list of movies to watch that were shot on Southern California locations familiar to us. We also watch as many movies as we can that are shot where we would be going for our vacations.”
Medved spent five years researching and fact-checking film locations in nearly 1,000 films for Hollywood Escapes.
He watched all of the films in the book. Along the way, he discovered that several monster movies were shot in Venice and some movies were not shot on the locations people commonly believe.
He said he likes to know the film locations for every film he sees, even when he is not doing the research for a book.
Film location managers and scouts, production designers, producers, directors, actors, stunt coordinators, park rangers and administrators, lifeguards, local and film historians, and local residents and business owners were used as sources for Hollywood Escapes, Medved said.
All of the major film studios also keep extensive production archives and production notes that Medved was allowed to view and use for his book.
In recent years, Southern California has faced an exodus of film production in recent years called runaway production to other lower-cost states and countries, but Medved sees a renewed interest by filmmakers to stay close to home.
“After September 11th, a lot of filmmakers don’t want to put an entire film crew on an airplane to go overseas,” Medved said. “The tide is turning and more filmmakers feel sentimental about making their films in Southern California.”
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, an action movie star, has promised to help bring back film productions to Southern California through tax breaks and other types of financial aid.
One change after September 11th that will probably stay for a long time is the secrecy of film locations, Medved said, because government agencies fear that film productions are enticing terrorist targets.
Previously, Medved could find the locations of film shoots through local filming permit offices that were mandated by law to make permit applications available to the public.
He now has to use other methods of finding a film shoot in progress such as following production signs posted on utility poles or asking local business owners if they received a notification letter from production companies.
There are many books published on the making of films, but Hollywood Escapes is considered to be the first comprehensive guide to Southern California’s outdoor film locations.
Medved not only wanted to inform readers where films were shot, but also make travel recommendations such as how to get to the site, the best places to eat and lodge that have appeared in films, and best places to go for sightseeing.
The book is a film guide and travel guide rolled into one and is organized in sections according to type of location — Movie Beaches, Movie Deserts, Movie Mountains and Movie Lakes and Rivers.
Local film locations are divided into chapters such as “Santa Monica’s Palisades Park,” “Santa Monica Pier” and “Venice Beach and Canals.”
Palisades Park, Santa Monica Pier and Venice Boardwalk are the most popular sites if filmmakers choose to shoot on the Westside, Medved said.
Palisades Park in Santa Monica had a major role in Point Blank and The Truth About Cats & Dogs. Santa Monica Pier was used extensively in The Sting, Ruthless People and Cellular.
Several climactic scenes in Touch of Evil, White Men Can’t Jump, Lords of Dogtown and Falling Down were shot in Venice.
Medved also noted that countless celebrities and filmmakers live in Santa Monica and Venice, which makes Westside locations favorites for filmmakers.
Information, www.hollywood escapes.com