Written by Murray Ashton on Oct 26, 2012. Posted in On Location

Filming on location at The Four Aces Movie Set near Los Angeles

The Four Aces Movie Set offers a collection of permanent sets that evoke a mid-20th Century romantic Americana road-stop. Roughly an hour’s drive north-east of Los Angeles, the facility offers a 1940s diner, a gas station and a motel.

Each set is positioned to be filmed individually and the overall lay-out was designed to maximise sunlight over the course of a filming day. Renovations and changes take place every two or three years, with an extra motel room and a grimy truck-stop restroom being among the latest additions. The diner can also now be converted easily to a bar set. Many of the sets have moveable props and walls. In addition, various classic American cars and a 1972 Harley Iron Head motorcycle are available for use.

All our floors are polished cement; some have linoleum on them. They are smooth and quiet, ideal for tracking shots.

Jan-Peter Flack, Production Designer/Four Aces Creator

A 1940s style is evoked with the diner set, which features period dining booths, a juke box and a small bandstand, while the bar conversion takes about two hours. The gas station is built in a 1950s style. Interior set design includes used car batteries and period food displays, while the pumps themselves date to the 50s and 60s.

The motel evokes the 1960s, with a breezeway, a courtyard, a manager’s office and three rooms, two of which share a bathroom. In contrast, the truck-stop bathroom has a 1980s feel, with cinderblock architecture and fluorescent strip lighting.

Jan-Peter Flack is a Production Designer and Creator of the Four Aces: “All the fluorescents, practical and Neon signs work when electrified. We don't have power, so everybody needs to bring their own generator. For smaller projects we rent small 3000kw, quiet generators for USD150 each. Most projects require more power than that.

“All our floors are polished cement; some have linoleum on them. They are smooth and quiet, ideal for tracking shots.”

Open year-round, Aces’ usage rates range from USD2,500 to USD4,500 for a 12-hour shoot day, with prep and strike days at half this rate. Discounts are available for productions that shoot for several days in a row and there’s a car park that’s been used in the past both for helicopter landings and as a base for crews working in the surrounding desert. Photo shoots and smaller film productions with fewer crew members are charged reduced costs.

Palmdale is the nearest airport and the Antelope Valley Film Office can offer any further assistance to productions considering filming locally. Four Aces is a popular facility and some of the recent star visitors include Brad Pitt, John Travolta, Jim Carrey and Jennifer Lopez.


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