Ever since 2008, I have been obsessed with filming locations from my favourite films and television shows, when I took my first trip overseas to the USA.
Los Angeles has always been a dream for location stalkers, because let’s face it; SO much stuff gets filmed here. But, for me so much of what I see is not in LA. But I still love seeing all the locations of the particular locations I do find there.
Luckily for me, I can live vicariously through one website, which is the mecca for California and LA based filming locations, but further; the amount of detail that goes into her posts, means you get much more than just a location breakdown, but histories and interesting facts and of course…the celebrity encounters she comes across on a very regular basis.
I recently wrote a piece on Dawson’s Creek filming locations for this site which you can read here; so I would love to introduce you to this awesome chick who really is a soul sister for someone like me, who lives for tracking down filming locations and meeting celebrities just like I do.
If you’re heading to LA, make sure you check out her site I AM NOT A STALKER, though she does feature other locations throughout California, and in cities like Seattle and New York. And be sure to check out LA Magazine where Lindsay has recently scored a column called ‘Scene It Before‘…featuring new locations and some of her favourite content from her website too.
1. What started your stalking of filming locations and what location was your first ‘stalk’?
Where It All Began...
I grew up in a suburb of San Francisco that felt very far removed from Hollywood.
I was obsessed with show business from the start, though, especially behind-the-scenes stuff. When I was a kid, my parents would take me to the movies regularly, so film was very much a part of my childhood. And my mom would invariably make my dad and I stay to watch the credits of each production to see if it was mentioned where filming took place. (Back in the day, a credit saying, “Filmed on location in such and such a place” would often run at the end of a movie, but that doesn’t really happen anymore.)
So being curious about filming locations has been ingrained in me since my younger years.
Oddly enough, though many productions have been filmed in San Francisco, I never really stalked any locations when I lived there. At the time, stalking wasn’t really on my radar, I guess. I don’t think it occurred to me that it was possible to go out and actually see film locales in person at anywhere other than a studio like Universal. But when the movie Scream came out in 1996, I became obsessed with it and was shocked to learn that it was filmed in Healdsburg, a small town located about 70 miles north of SF. (How did I learn that fact? You guessed it! By watching the credits! Thank you, mom!)
My aunt lives up that way, so one day my mom and I made the trek to visit her and to hopefully see some of the locations. I had done a bit of research and knew where the town square area was located, but when we got there my mom suggested that we stop by the local police station to see if they had any filming information to share. The police chief wound up talking to us and he was a wealth of knowledge. He had helped facilitate various activities throughout the entire production of Scream and pointed us in the direction of several of the local spots used.
We took a ton of photographs and really got to explore the town (that’s one of my favorite aspects of stalking). It was such a special day and remains such a great memory for me – my first official stalking experience. And Healdsburg is still one of my favorite places that I’ve ever visited.
The Love Of Stalking Is Born
My obsession with locations really took off after that, thanks to my deep love for the television show Beverly Hills, 90210.
I was obsessed with the series during my high school years. Like obsessed. One summer during college, I flew down to L.A. to visit a friend. (It was only my second time in LaLaLand. Though my parents took me to Disneyland regularly as a kid, we only visited L.A. once and it was for less than 24 hours!)My friend took me to Mann’s Chinese Theatre and there was a book for sale there called “The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book” which was basically just a big guide to filming locations.
I bought it immediately and read it from cover to cover in about an hour. I wanted to visit all of the places mentioned during that trip, but my friend was having none of it. What I most wanted to see, though, was the Walsh house from Beverly Hills, 90210, the address of which, 1675 East Altadena Drive in Altadena, was in the book. But my friend insisted that Altadena was “really far away,” so we didn’t go.
Flash forward to a few years later when I graduated from college. With a degree in theatre under my belt, I hoped to pursue acting, but couldn’t really do so in San Francisco, so I decided to move to L.A. My parents and I are extremely close and they moved south with me. (We are pretty much a package deal.)
Before we relocated, we took a couple of house-hunting trips to Los Angeles. During our first trip, I was bound and determined to finally visit the Walsh house, which we did. Ironically, my parents fell in love with the Pasadena area during that stalk and ended up buying a home about a mile away from the Walsh’s. Once we moved in, I would jog by Casa Walsh on an almost daily basis and would pinch myself each time.
There I was, a girl who grew up so far removed from the world of film, living just down the street from Brandon and Brenda, my two all-time favorite television characters! I also look back now and laugh because Altadena is not “really far away” from Hollywood as my college friend had made me believe.
The Walsh house was like a gateway drug for me. Once I stalked it, I just wanted to stalk more. I began researching locales online and in books and would visit them during my free time. Eventually, I started tracking down locations not listed anywhere online or in print and compiled a huge database of random locales.
Anytime someone would come to visit, I would take them on a filming location tour (whether they were into film sites or not) and people would invariably tell me that I needed to start a blog or a tour company.
I eventually founded IAMNOTASTALKER in November 2007 and never looked back.
2. You predominately see California based locations, are there other cities in the states you want to see for their locations?
I cover mainly California locales on my site because, living here, it is the state I have the most access to – and also because it is the filming capital of the world.
I love visiting out-of-state locations, as well, though. Whenever I take a trip with my husband or family, I research wherever we are going beforehand to see what has been shot in the area. Visiting filming locations really is the best way to explore and see a new city, in my opinion at least. I’ve done stalking in states including New York, Washington, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Hawaii, Maryland, and New Jersey. I’ve also done some international stalking in Vancouver, Mexico and Switzerland. I will pretty much fit stalking into to any sort of trip I take.
In 2010, my dad had to make a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for health reasons and I convinced my parents to fly out there a few days before his appointment so that we could get in some stalking. Beautiful Girls, one of my favorite movies ever, was filmed in Minnesota and I figured it would be a great opportunity to see its locales.
A good friend of mine managed to get his hands on the flick’s production schedule, which listed all of its filming sites, prior to our trip and I wound up getting to visit pretty much every one of them while there, as well as locations from a bunch of other productions. My dad’s Mayo Clinic appointment turned out to be a total bust, so the days we spent stalking were the highlight of our time in the North Star State. My parents always say how glad they are that we scheduled in the extra time to stalk, as the trip would have been a total waste otherwise. We also got to discover some beautiful areas, like Stillwater, thanks to the stalking we did on that trip.
3. Do you have a dream location anywhere in the world that you desperately want to visit but haven’t yet made it to?
I have what I call my “bucket list” of filming locations, places I am absolutely dying to see, both in the U.S. and worldwide. Topping off the list are Lake Lure, North Carolina from Dirty Dancing; Wilmington, North Carolina from Dawson’s Creek; Virginia’s Mountain Lake Lodge from Dirty Dancing (my husband and I almost honeymooned there); Winnetka, Illinois where the Home Alone house is located, Philadelphia from Mannequin (I am absolutely itching to see Wanamaker’s department store), and Utah, where two of my favorite movies, Drive Me Crazy and Footloose, were shot.
4. You live in California and have done many set tours over the years. For all our travelers out there, which studio tour do you rate as the best to visit and why, if they can only fit in one?
My personal favorite set tour is the Paramount Pictures Studio Tour, though many fellow stalkers prefer the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. Both are very good and I would definitely recommend both (I mean, you get to see the Central Perk set from Friends at the WB!), but for me nothing beats Paramount.
I find that Paramount’s tour is a lot less programmatic than the WB’s. The Paramount tour also consists of more walking, which I prefer to being on a cart. I just love to walk in general, but being off of the cart for the majority of the time allows for guests to take more photos, pose for pictures at specific locations, explore to a greater extent, and to have a more personalized experience. The history at Paramount is just incredible, too, and the guides are extremely knowledgeable in recounting that history. My favorite part of the lot hands-down, though, is New York Street. The five-acre, six-block area is comprised of massive facades representing eight different regions of NYC. It is incredibly realistic and absolutely enchanting to see in person. To me, Paramount is just pure magic. I love the place so much, in fact, that my husband and I almost got married there!
5. Not only do you see a lot filming locations, but you have also met a lot of celebrities. Do you have an interesting or even embarrassing story between you and when you met a celebrity?
I have been lucky enough to meet countless celebrities over the years and have a lot of great stories.
One of the more embarrassing encounters was when I met Sasha Alexander. I first became a fan of Sasha’s when she starred as Gretchen Witter, Pacey’s sister, on Dawson’s Creek. I absolutely loved her character and just thought she was so beautiful. Then she went on to star on NCIS, another of my favorite shows, and she was great on that. She is currently starring on a third show that I love, Rizzoli & Isles. It is very rare, for me at least, for an actress that I am a fan of to be a part of three shows that I absolutely love, so I was dying to meet her.
One of my friends that I regularly went to celebrity events with had met Sasha several times, but somehow I always missed her, so she was kind of like my unicorn. Then in 2013, I was at an Emmy event and turned around at one point and there was Sasha, like two feet in front of me. And I lost it! It was so unexpected that she was there in the first place, but then to have her just walk practically right up to me after years of wanting to meet her, well my brain couldn’t handle it. I screamed and then started talking to her really fast in a high-pitched voice. I’m sure I was making no sense.
After my friend explained what a huge fan I was, Sasha took a picture with me, but she was very obviously taken aback at my enthusiasm. After she walked away from our group (no doubt thinking I was some sort of crazed lunatic), my friend was like, “Wow, I think they heard your scream in space!” All night she complained that her ears were ringing from my freak-out. You never know who is going to affect you in such a way and, though I love Sasha, I never would have thought I’d lose it to that extent upon meeting her, but I did. It was definitely a moment I’ll never forget. Sasha, either, most likely. I’m guessing that if we ever happen to see each other again, she’ll take off running in the opposite direction. 😉
6. How has I Am Not A Stalker changed your life? Did you ever think it would take you to where you now are?
IAMNOTASTALKER quickly went from being a hobby to my full-time job and I love every minute of it – so much so that I stopped acting (which I always thought was my true passion) in order to pursue it more whole-heartedly.
I love that I am able to be creative on a day-to-day basis, that tracking down locations is now a major part of my workday, that I get to interact with people of the same mind-set (before I started my blog, I honestly thought I was one of only a handful of people who cared about filming locations – who knew?); that I get to write regularly, and that I am constantly learning and honing new skills, like photography. I never in a million years thought my website would take me to where I am now. When I started it, I was working full-time as a personal assistant and acting on the side. I found that despite having an agent and being in SAG, my show business career was at a stalemate. It seemed like no matter how hard I worked, how many classes I took, or how many contacts I made, I had no control over it and no movement forward. I literally felt like I was on a treadmill, working up a sweat, but going nowhere.
Starting my blog allowed me a creative release that I so desperately needed and, as it started to grow, I found I had far more control over its progress than I did my acting career. It is amazing to me how much my site has since grown and how much it has caused me to grow in the process.
7. Last question: what is your favourite film and tv show?
It is hard to pin down a single favorite for either, but I have to say that Beverly Hills, 90210 is my favorite television show. Though I have loved several other series over the years (Pretty Little Liars and Vanderpump Rules are current obsessions, and hello! Sex and the City!), no other show has had the same sort of impact on me that 90210 did – and still does.
Jogging by the Walsh house can still bring me right back to being an awkward 15-year-old with braces, who watched the series religiously from her teenage bedroom and wanted nothing more than to be best friends with Brenda Walsh – and to date Dylan McKay (just don’t mention that to Brenda!).
When I catch an episode on TV, I’m still that same 15-year-old, easily caught up in all of the drama on the screen. I don’t think Kelly Taylor will ever lose her ability to upset me in the let’s-cheat-on-Brenda-while-she’s-in-Paris episodes. It is amazing that a series that premiered 26 years ago still has that kind of hold on me.
As far as my favorite movie, that is tougher to nail down. A few of my most beloved films include Dirty Dancing, A Few Good Men, Drive Me Crazy, Beautiful Girls, Toy Story, Clueless, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, and Love Actually. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but those are the ones that come to mind as staples.
My favorite movie of the past year is The Intern. Love, love, love that one.
Thank you so much Lindsay for sharing such an interesting history of your life and how it took you to where you are now. Happy Stalking!
If you are interested in filming locations and want to make them part of your next trip? Check out Lindsay’s website I AM NOT A STALKER and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see what she gets up to next!