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Military drama films California as global locations


Military drama SEAL Team has filmed extensively on location in rural LA County in California, doubling the terrain for countries around the world.

The series follows the lives and missions of a Special Forces unit of the US Navy, much of which is inspired by real events.

Producers have used Pomona in eastern Los Angeles as a stand-in for South Sudan, while San Pedro near Long Beach has doubled for the Philippines and Soledad Canyon, north of LA, as Paraguay, reports the LA Times.

“We want to shoot it as realistically as we can and you can’t fake that many landscapes,” said Christopher Chulack, an executive producer on SEAL Team, in comments to the LA Times.

“Here in California you have oceans and the desert, and it’s the variances of the landscape that is conducive to transporting the audience to foreign lands.”

The producers of SEAL Team (‘SEAL’ stands for Sea, Air and Land as a measure of the soldiers’ operating expertise) have also filmed at Blue Cloud, one of several ‘movie ranches’ in California that offers standing sets for movie and TV crews.

Blue Cloud has two permanent ‘forward operating base’ sets for military stories, as well as a Third World Town exterior.

California is also favoured for many stories like SEAL Team due to the number of military bases in the state, many of which are considered film-friendly by location managers and producers.

The SEAL Team producers in fact filmed the series’ pilot in New Orleans, but relocated to California when the show won a season-long commission. The show in fact failed to secure tax credit support from the state, but this has been offset by the Los Angeles-based crew being able to stay in their homes each night, something that is a major logistical consideration.

California is not the only part of the US that has been used to double for foreign locales in military dramas. Six, inspired by the missions of the US Navy’s real-life SEAL Team Six unit, shot its first season in North Carolina and used back lot facilities to double for locations in rural Nigeria.    

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in California.

Images: CBS