Help me with long-distance photoshoot location scouting in the Bay Area
April 9, 2012 2:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in the Bay Area in early May and whilst I'm there I'm going to be shooting presskit photos of some local musicians. I'm looking for locations in which to shoot a Metal band; can the hive mind help me find some? Difficultly level: No brick walls or rail tracks; motorised transport is not guaranteed; budget is exceedingly small

Normally I spot locations whilst I'm driving by and then come back to check them out later, but since I'm based in the UK that's not possible.

I'm pretty relaxed about potential ideas for locations - if you can suggest 'em, I'm more than happy to whittle them down to the ones that suit the client.

What I usually look for for a band like this:

- Somewhere derelict and run down
- Interesting interior spaces (dive bars that would be open to letting us shoot during quiet times)
- Rooftops with good skyline views.
- Anything with interesting but above all non-brick textures - shiny metal walls, girders, interesting industrial shapes all work pretty well.
- Desert-y or otherwise wilderness-y areas that look more desolate than "ooh, tree, pretty"

I'm going to be based in downtown Oakland, near the BART. I hope to have transport on the day of the shoot but can't guarantee it. I'd like to get a range of locations for the band, and we're going to be shooting in the evening / around sunset (and hopefully get some night shots, too).

All suggestions welcome, bonus points for links to maps and contact details of anyone that might be able to help me out with permission etc. where necessary.
posted by gmb to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Additional note: Please feel free to recommend stuff that's within about a 1 1/2 hour drive of Oakland, just in case; it's best to keep my options open at this point.
posted by gmb at 2:43 PM on April 9, 2012

Off the top of my head:

Suisun Bay, northeast of Oakland, has a bunch of derelict warships.
Twin Peaks or Bernal both have good skylines and weird-looking broadcast towers.
The armory probably has some weird interior spaces, but you'd have to ask them.
The exterior of the Contemporary Jewish Museum in downtown SF is pretty interesting, texturally.
posted by sixacross at 2:57 PM on April 9, 2012

I can't recommend specific locations --- I'm on the wrong side of the country for that! --- but since pretty much anything 'industrial' could be good for a metal band's backdrop, keep in mind things like dumpster areas behind buildings, rooftop or rear-of-building industrial air conditioning units, or parking garages (preferably an area that's currently empty of cars). If you can get in, the mechanical area of large buildings --- lots of plumbing lines and perhaps some circuit breakers boxes might look good. Look around for construction sites and empty weedy lots, too. Maybe one of the BART stations will do?
posted by easily confused at 3:00 PM on April 9, 2012

The Alameda Naval Air Station is a closed air base turned industrial park - five minutes from downtown Oakland through the Webster tunnel.
posted by gyusan at 3:04 PM on April 9, 2012

The zeitgeist - a bar on 14& duboce
posted by askmehow at 3:10 PM on April 9, 2012

If you could somehow get into Children's Fairyland at night, that would be intense. It is definitely derelict and run-down, but still an active kiddie park, so I bet they have a policy against metal bands doing photo shoots during the day.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:11 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Fort Point on a cloudy day would be killer for this, though you may have the National Park Service to contend with.

I'd recommend roaming the Embarcadero south of the Bay Bridge on a weekend, with its chain-link fences and the more industrial piers and stuff.
posted by eugenen at 3:20 PM on April 9, 2012

Check out Vallejo and the old Mare Island base.

You could ask The Crucible, NIMBY Space, or American Steel if anyone would be available to arrange something firey going on while you film.

What about a battleship, like The Red Oak Victory ship? Lots of space to film, though you'd need lighting.

Ignatius J. Reilly's suggestion of Fairyland might work even in the daytime- I know people can rent it for private parties, though it's probably expensive.

If you don't mind a lot of wind, Ft Cronkhite might work, especially the Townsend Battery. No electricity up there, though. The walls are cementy- not bricky- but you could film it with just the bay or the ocean as the background.

There's a weirdly derelict beach and BBQ area at Pt Molate in Richmond, as well as a bunch of abandoned houses. I can't find any good pictures of it, probably because it's trespassing if you go there. I haven't been in a couple years, but no one ever stopped me from wandering around. Also, on that same road, there's a "yacht harbor" full of super beater houseboats and rusted out boat remnants, called Pt. San Pablo Yacht Harbor.

Richmond's outskirts has a ton of abandoned industrial things.

My favorite, though, would be to do something right on Hwy 80 West, just on the SF side of the Carquinez bridge, with the Tosco refinery in the background, and if you're lucky, it'll be burning off its extra gasses.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:03 PM on April 9, 2012

You will need motorized transport for nearly all of my suggestions.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:03 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

You'd need a car, but speaking of derelict beaches, might look at the Albany Bulb. Google Images pops up a lot of pictures of the trash sculptures, which are cool, but there's also just a run down graffitied section of beach with lots of chunks of concrete and twisted metal. Plus a squatter's camp up on the Bulb itself, but that's a different story.
posted by deludingmyself at 4:24 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Heinhold's First and Last Chance Saloon has a cramped, soot-stained interior with a crazily-sloped floor. About a 15 minute walk from Oakland's 12th st BART station. Contact info.

The Albany Bulb might require a car. Open to the public, west-facing.

The Port of Oakland has an iconic skyline that you can see from various places. Not sure why Middle Harbor shoreline Park isn't on their list, though. Park closes at sunset, I believe. You'd want a car or, er, bikes. A longish walk from Downtown, though.

My favorite parking garage, Downtown/Chinatown. map/phone.

The Posey Tube, maybe? Might be hard to set up a photo- it is the tunnel to Alameda Island.

If you could somehow get into Children's Fairyland at night, that would be intense. It is definitely derelict and run-down, but still an active kiddie park, so I bet they have a policy against metal bands doing photo shoots during the day.

Really not run down, IMO- it's full of blooming flowers right now. You can't get in without a kid, so I very much doubt this would work. You can see bits of it through the fence though, and there's a funky sculpture climbing/thing on the shore of Lake Merritt which is backlit by the sunset and the lake (and my neighborhood).

small ruminant's suggestions are good, I was going to suggest NIMBY and American Steel as well.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:25 PM on April 9, 2012

Oh, the Ruby Room is nicely dive-y. A sadly tiny photo. Map.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:39 PM on April 9, 2012

By coincidence, I ended up talking to Port Chicago's park ranger just a few weeks ago, and he said it's still technically a military installation while also being a park. (?!)

What this means is that you can only go by appointment, and you have to make the appointment a few weeks ahead so that you can get a security clearance.

I just remembered Port Costa. Check out The Warehouse.

Also, Crockett under the Carquinez bridge has some neat old derelict boat sorts of things, (I'm thinking of the area around The Nantucket restaurant) along with the C&H Factory, which is definitely brick-ish, so is out of the running. Also possibly has too many railroad tracks.

The east bay has a LOT of railroad tracks, unfortunately.

I love Locke, which is (nearly) a Chinese ghost town, but I'm not sure that's heavy metal, either.

Again, these all need motorized transport.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:18 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh- The Era Art Bar & Lounge did a pretty cool job in decorating. There's an upstairs, too. And.. (ta-da!) easily BART-able.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:22 PM on April 9, 2012

Sorry- it's in Oakland.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:22 PM on April 9, 2012

Hawk Hill in Marin (right above where the Golden Gate Bridge lands) has some views of the ocean and of the city, but also it has a big concrete tunnel. There's rusted chunks of metal on the wall, and an empty concrete battery structure at the other end. On the way there is Battery Spencer.

Alcatraz might be a possibility. If you'll need to do any kind of complicated set-up, you'd probably want to talk to the park service ahead of time. It's chock full of decaying stuff. You'd have to get there by ferry, which might be too big a pain if you have a lot of equipment to bring.

Sutro Baths is the site of a public poolhouse that burnt down in like the 60's. It's kind of overgrown now, and it's right on the ocean so the decay is greatly accelerated.

There's also the Wave organ which is kind of weird and interesting.
posted by aubilenon at 5:36 PM on April 9, 2012

Another for the Albany bulb. If you go to the far end when it's not high tide there's a long rock path into and through the water.
Merchant's Saloon in Jack London Square.
Piedmont cemetary in Oakland has a few sections with 150-200 year old wooden markers.
posted by gally99 at 6:31 PM on April 9, 2012

Thirding the Albany Bulb. Among other things, there are lots of big chunks of transportation and civil-engineering project waste which would make fine miscellaneous industrial backdrops. And, nobody is likely to mess with you there.

A few other possibilities:

Near Rodeo Lagoon, in Marin (just across the Golden Gate Bridge from SF), there are several large and open concrete & rusting-iron military tunnels and gun emplacements. Start by searching for Battery Townsley. It's official Golden Gate National Rec Center park land, so you may have to worry about permission.

Back on the SF side of the bridge, a few hundred meters north along the shore from the bridge itself are some more big rotting concrete fortifications, including a few free-standing room sized spaces. Search for Battery Bourtelle. You may have trouble getting shots without tourists or landmarks in them.

It's less specific, but along the SOMA/dog-patch/Hunters-Point transition on the eastern edge of SF (say, from around 20th street and south along the shore), there are some wide open industrial shoreline areas. Most of the really neat places are private property, and you'd have to either make arrangements or be ready to run, but there are some public parks scattered throughout which would give you neat horizons.

There are small roads that go through astonishingly large fields of refinery hardware, just north of i80 and slightly sought of the Carquinez Bridge, and just east of the Richmond-San Rafael bridge. Could make for an interesting backdrop.

In Oakland proper, there are plenty of empty industrial buildings. . .but, I don't actually know of any contacts that would be useful.
posted by eotvos at 8:31 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone, for your help. I've got plenty to chew through here, and I'm really looking forward to it. As my clients will probably insist I say: \m/
posted by gmb at 11:42 AM on April 10, 2012

Ditto Marin Headlands - I was thinking Battery Mendel but there are lots of possibilities in the area.
posted by naoko at 8:37 PM on April 10, 2012

I'm late! Check your memails for a map (hopefully).

Also, chew on this! (eats!!!!)

\m/ \m/
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 10:22 AM on April 12, 2012

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