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The Craft Filming Locations: Where Was It Filmed?

The Craft

It is a 1996 American Teen Supernatural Horror Film that Andrew Fleming directed from a theatrical screenplay by Peter Filardi and Fleming in which Filardi is the story writer. The film stars Fairuza Balk, Robin Tunney, Rachel True, and Neve Campbell. The story revolves around Four teenage girls in the Los Angeles Parochial High School who pursue witchcraft for their advantage but subsequently experience adverse outcomes from their actions.

Columbia Pictures released The Craft in the US on 3rd May 1996. It earned about 6.7 million Dollars in its opening weekend and 55.6 million Dollars worldwide on a budget of 15 million Dollars. The film was praised for its direction, lead actors, and it’s production but was also criticized for the political message it derived, its inconsistent tone, and the writing.

The film was nominated for Saturn Award for Best Horror film, and Fairuza Balk was awarded the best-supporting actress. Robin Tunney and Fairuza Balk also won the MTV movie award for Best fight. The movie also had its sequel released on 28th October 2020, named The Craft: Legacy.

Behind The Scene: Making Of The Craft

The film’s concept was born out of a collaboration between the producer Douglas Wick who wanted to create a movie about the High School experience mixed with witchcraft, and Peter Filardi, who did thorough research on the topic and wrote its first draft.

Andrew was hired to direct and produce the final version of the script. There were 85 other actresses who auditioned for the four main roles, including Alicia Silverstone, Angelina Jolie, and Scarlett Johansson.

Fairuza Balk and Rachel True were the first to be cast for their respective roles. The writers had to rewrite the character of Rochelle as a black woman to incorporate the racism subplot to be the character’s major conflict. Robin Tunney was cast initially for the role of Bonnie, but the producer decided that she would be better for the role of Sarah.

She was persuaded to accept Neve Campbell, is well known amongst four actresses for her role in Party Of Five, and was cast as bonnie. Tunney, who shaved her head for her role in Empire Accords, had to wear a wig throughout the filming.

The Filming Locations:

The shooting took place throughout Los Angeles, including The Los Angeles International Airport, Sunset Boulevard, and Broadway. Verdugo Hills High School was the setting for the fictional Catholic school named Saint Benedict’s Academy. The production designer Dobrowolski added various religious statues throughout the ground and building.

Sarah’s home was a two-storied Spanish Mansion, and its interior was built at Culver City Studios. The occult bookstore was shoot at the E1 Adobe Market Place on Hollywood Boulevard. The room was repainted, and occult icons such as candles, religious statues, stigmas, tribal dolls, and masks were added for some effect.

There was an accident that took place in which a child was injured. The medic of the production saw this and called the paramedics. Due to this, there was a shift, and the set was moved to Wood Ranch, which was a location that was very hard to find, said the producer.

Dobrowolski wanted to avoid the Manicured park, but the park where the beach summoning took place was Leo Carrillo State Park which was chosen because of its Crest, which made it less visually boring. The makeup effect was designed by Tony Gardner and Alterian Inc, his special effect company, which also created the beach sharks for the film.

1) Verdugo Hills High School

Among the most filmed schools in LA, besides John Marshall High School in Los Feliz and John Burroughs Middle School in Hancock Park, was Verdugo Hills High School in Tujunga.

The school was opened in 1937 and is identified as historically significant by the Los Angeles Unified School District. The school has also been a host to many other TV shows and films, including Beverly Hills 90210, Better Off Dead, My So-Called Life, and Heathers.

St. Bernard’s Academy  (Source: Cult Youtube)

Written initially as Saint Bernard’s Academy, the campus transformed into Saint Benedict’s Academy, a Catholic School where Sarah meets the three outcast girls who were into witchcraft. The school had multiple classrooms, hallways, quads, and a football field, all of which were used in the film.

Certain parts of the school were clearly inspired by Spanish Mission Architecture, which corresponded with the Medeterian Aesthetic that the filmmakers desired. According to the producer, it felt that the place had a good vibe for the girls to get influenced and start practicing Black Magic.

Williams said that during the filming session, the school was open, but there was no interruption from the students as Verdugo School had been through so much filming that they know how to manage their children. They would just tell the kids to stay out of the filming area.

2) 8330 McGroarty Street, Sun Land

An old Medeterian Villa, written in the script as a house in Glendale, Sarah’s Spanish-inspired house, built in 1927, was found in Sun Land itself and was less than two miles away from the High School.

The house was said to be a big deal as the maker wanted something Spanish, but it should not be in the middle of a neighborhood. The producer said they were looking for something with a lot of character compared to Los Angeles.

The Old Medeterian Villa, Shown as Sarah’s House

For someone who comes from another city, another state or another area, the touch of Spanish architecture would be an interesting new world. One can convey the mystery and the magic of the other world better in this would be a generic house. The house was being lived in, and the makers had to move the family out. The interior was filmed on a sound stage in Columbia in Culver City.

The Craft used an insane amount of Snakes, Rodents, and Bugs who appeared to take over the house. About 2700 Snakes were used in the sequence. Kessell says that he knew the number of snakes they brought and that not all of them made their way back.

3) LAX Airport, Los Angeles

The scene where Jenny, Sarah, and her father try to find a taxi in the pouring rain is shot at this airport. It was the first location to pop up in The Craft with its iconic themed buildings, all of which were built in 1961.

The production was not only able to capture the shot outside the terminal at the pickup curb of the passengers, but the rain effects were also a demand for the scene, which was an establishment of the movie’s beginning as it portrayed one of the four elements of nature.

LAX Airport

According to Kesell it was a big challenge to shoot at the airport as it is impossible to carry the equipment that deep into the airport as whenever there is a shoot, the airport remains open. It gets tough to manage the crowd with conducting the shooting simultaneously. The airport security was much strict after 9/11, which was a big hindrance for the makers.

He says that he previously had shot many scenes at LAX, but it is difficult now as there is no specific area where you can set up and shoot peacefully, especially when they had to add the special effects of rain for The Craft.

4) The Candle Shop, El Adobe Market Place, Los Angeles

This was the most famous location that the fans already knew about as it was located on Hollywood Boulevard in Thai Town, where the complex is half mini-mall and half apartment building sharing a wall with the guardians’ Arms apartment beside them.

The filmmakers wanted to have a local Los Angeles feel to their location, due to which they wanted a busy Hollywood street with a mini-market area with stores. Kesell was attracted to the place as he is a fan of such funky-looking places, which interests him.

The candle shop marketplace for occult things

They had to transform the market area into a bookstore which before that was an apartment where people used to live. There was metal grating in front of the door, and it was arched to add more character to the place. It was not at all a store when they got there.

It was very important for Dobrowolski that there should be an interior and exterior connection in the place so that the girls could be seen walking down the streets, across the parking lot all the way into the bookstore, which also highlighted the feeling of life in Los Angeles.

The apartment was also attractive as the makers had permission to cut a hole through the rear wall into the courtyard of the Guardians Arms building. There Dobrowolski made an overgrown garden for a set that eventually was cut from the movie. The back room of the bookstore was made on a soundstage.

5) Downtown

It was a completely transformed place 20 years ago, there were no lofts, and it was said to be a ghost town. There were no cars, so one person could blindly run over the streets with no danger of getting hit. Downtown was a backlot to Williams, he says. Two-night scenes were shot on Broadway for the film between sixth and seventh streets.

One street in which a creepy preacher with a snake gets run over by a car, and there was another favorite scene from the movie among the fans where Nancy drives through some traffic lights that magically turned from red to green at the last minute.

Downtown, California

Out of the whole Downtown, The Craft only used these two sections as there was ample light on it, and lights added sense to the scene. Williams and Kesell arranged for many businesses to keep their lights on or stay open till early morning hours because there isn’t much visibility in that area once the stores get closed.

Back at that time, the Downtown was a bad area. It was shady, and Williams had to pay the people for a couple of nights in a row to leave their lights on so they could see what was going on there. Dobrowolski said that though that place had been transformed into one that gave out a foreign vibe, it was like a forgotten world filled with homeless people and drug addicts. It was a forbidden land for the girls of the Valley.

 6) Jensen’s Recreation Center, Echo Park

To avoid showcasing and recycling the most used Downtown rooftops like Rosslyn Hotel or the Old Frontier Hotel, the makers went with another historical building that wasn’t much used in the movies before it was Jensen’s Recreation Center which was built in the 1920s in Echo Park.

It had the most amazing view, which wasn’t an obvious view, as the makers were trying to avoid cliches. Instead of being in the middle of Downtown, the makers now had a full view of Downtown. While prepping for the shoot, there was a very freaky accident that took place there.

Jensen’s Recreation Center, Used for the rooftop

The kid on the top floor was pressing against the screen, the family had a couch or something that was up against the window, and the kid fell out of the window. This tragedy took place before they started filming on the same day that they got there.

The medic with the team saw that first, a teddy bear came out of the window, then the kid. The kid landed on the ground from the height of a three or four storied building. The medic immediately called 911. The kid was saved in time.

7) Harbor Place Tower, A Huge-Deco Apartment Building

The scene where Nancy uses her powers to cause a heart attack on her stepfather killed him within seconds, which offered a large life insurance payout to Nancy and her mother, allowing them to move from their trailer to an apartment building. For this scene, the makers went to Long Beach and found that apartment at Harbor Place Tower on Ocean Boulevard.

Harbor Place Tower, The place where Nancy and her mother shifted to

It was not an easy task for the makers to find that apartment as Los Angeles did not have that interesting development or condos where people would move in. Long Beach had that allure to it. The fact that they got an apartment by the ocean says a lot about the lifestyle of Los Angeles.

8) Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu, California

When Bonnie finishes laying a ring of stones in the sand, Nancy starts the fire in the middle, and Sarah finishes lighting a circle of black candles as she looks at the jar with a snake in it. When Nancy tries to invoke the spirit of Manon, the powerful deity that they worshiped, embodies the entire universe. The girls head to Leo Carrillo Beach to perform their ceremony.

The beach is said to be the most filmed beach as Leo Carrillo is the place where Daniel-san first learned the crane kick in the movie Karate Kid and also Frankie and Annette played Beach Blanket Bingo. The beach has a lot of film history within it.

There was a risk in using the beach’s cave as it fills with water when the high tides approach it, and whilst there were shots that the tides accommodated in certain parts of the beach, they weren’t nice all the time. There were many occasions in which, after the verification of the park ranger, the tides came very high and wiped away the stone circle that was set up by the art department.

Leo Carrillo State Beach, the place where the girls perform their ceremony

According to Kesell, Leo Carrillo beach is one of the most interesting beaches to shoot at, especially at night, as the other beaches get dark and there is no source of light to see anything. The Leo Carrillo beach has a crest, so there is something to light, and also, the visibility enhances.

One interesting thing that happened while shooting was when Balk started chanting during one of her takes. The power generator was lost. There were many rumors about how that happened, considering the nature of the movie, but the makers chuckled at it and kept the scene because they said that the magic was really happening on the other side of the camera.

9) Chateau Bradbury Estate, Duarte, California

A giant California Tudor Mansion with drunk kids spilling outside the lawn. There are BMWs and sporty Nissans in every parking spot. When the homeowner of the originally chosen party scene house in The Craft learned about the stunt that involved someone falling out of the window, he quickly declined for his home to be one of the filming locations, and at the last minute, Kesell had to find a new house.

Chateau Bradbury Estate, The house party spot

Chateau Bradbury was something that came on quickly. It was a stately mansion built in 1912 by the founding family of the town of Bradbury and is located in Duarte in the San Gabriel Valley. The house was said to be a premier location for special events a few years ago.

Today, that house is listed as the Hon Los Temple, a Taoist spiritual center. There were multiple emails and phone calls sent for permission to take out the pictures of the house, which remained unanswered.

10) St. Peters Italian Catholic Church, N.Broadway, Chinatown

Finding the St. Benedict’s Academy chapel was indeed a challenge for the makers as it wasn’t located on the Verdugo Hills campus as well as the exterior of the chapel, which is the school’s music building today. According to Dobrowolski, the church needed to look more like a chapel in school.

It should not be too big or grand, just big enough to fit 100 students and have a similar color texture as the school. The prominent churches of Los Angeles were out of reach due to their size and the content of the film, and any church would require a script approval from the Archdiocese as the film was about witchcraft, so it was obvious that it won’t be as appreciated.

St. Peters Italian Catholic Church, Shown as the Chapel

There was a google search held for a small Los Angeles church, and it produced to have a thumbnail similar to the one in the movie, a man in a boat on top of a mosaic of waves created of turquoise, blue and white tiles. That image led the makers to a Facebook page, and they discovered St. Peter’s Italian Catholic Church.

There was a meeting in which the administrator asked about the nature of the film. When he explained the storyline, he didn’t allow the people to take photos considering the nature of the film, but they accepted the maker’s request to shoot. Later she allowed them to take their photos.

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