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By WADE DANIELS Staff Reporter The 730-acre Polsa Rosa film ranch in the Santa Clarita Valley recently hosted “The X-Files” for three days of filming, another sign of the area’s growing importance as a film location. “Each year productions are being added, making for a stronger presence of the industry in the area,” said April Aston, film liaison for the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce’s film & entertainment bureau. The Polsa Rosa ranch is one of more than 20 filming properties in and around the city of Santa Clarita, some of which are private while others are run by big-name production companies, such as the Golden Oak Ranch owned by the Walt Disney Co. In the past year, Polsa Rosa has hosted production crews for the blockbusters “Godzilla,” “Titanic,” and “Contact,” as well as numerous other television shows and commercials. Ranch operator Jeff Morton said there are usually four productions at the ranch a day, whereas only a few years ago it was more of a “now and then” thing. A Fox spokeswoman said the ranch is just one of the locations at which “X-Files” will be shooting around Los Angeles. Morton declined to discuss the “X-Files” shoot, citing confidentiality agreements. “It doesn’t matter the show’s name,” he said. “It’s important that it’s here, along with a lot of other shows being filmed.” Area merchants and city officials would agree with Morton. The details surrounding the latest production coming to town aren’t nearly as important as the fact that Santa Clarita is growing in popularity as a film and television location. In 1996, the industry pumped $394 million into the local economy, by doing everything from buying time on sound stages to patronizing local hotels and catering companies, according to the latest figures available from the Motion Picture Association of America, a film-industry trade group. That represents a 168 percent increase over the $147 million generated by the television and film industry in the community in 1992. It is not only Polsa Rosa that has seen a sharp rise in Hollywood production activity in the Santa Clarita Valley this decade. On top of the shows such as the “X-Files” that film in the Valley periodically, at least seven television series have their production operations there permanently including “Melrose Place,” “Seven Days” and “Magnificent Seven.” The industry’s activity comprises a significant part of the local economy, said Aston. In all, about 10,000 Santa Clarita city residents owe their jobs to the television and film production activity (in a population of 147,000). The Santa Clarita Valley has been used for Hollywood productions since the silent movie days, according to Aston of the film bureau. Through the decades, it has been the site for many Western movies, some starring Gene Autry, a one-time ranch owner in the area. Formed a decade ago, the film bureau has been working to snowball the area’s movie fortunes by doing things like having booths each year at trade shows like “Locations Expo” and the “Showbiz Expo.” It also hosts annual “Vendor Opportunities” seminars, where local business people can spend a few hours learning how to market and customize their goods and services to be attractive to the television and film industry. Keith Coburn, owner of the Piru Mansion, a Santa Clarita-area location that hosts weddings and special events, said the mansion is being sought as a location by more and more production companies. “It’s not yet a large part of our revenues, but it’s something that’s growing and we hope will keep growing,” he said. Aston is the bureau’s only dedicated employee, though she receives volunteer help from local residents who work in the industry, such as Morton, who was a bureau co-founder. Morton said that what ultimately attracts production companies to the area is its versatility. “We do as much jungle, river and forest locations as we do desert, dry river, mesa and mountain locations,” Morton said. “Studios go long and far to find the right locations, but they’d rather come to a close place like this if they can.”

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