Most productions not filmed on studio lots are shot within the 30-mile zone (known as the TMZ) from Beverly and La Cienega boulevards, with some locations more popular than others.
"What does the script require? What does the schedule require? This could be the perfect location visually and artistically, but can it accommodate a film crew? Is it available when we want it? Is it accessible for trucks and generators? How do the neighbors feel about us filming?"
Jeffrey T. Spellman, a location manager for CBS' " Criminal Minds," says, "The Internet has sped this process up a bit and helps when you first start thinking about shooting. It used to be a lot of just driving around getting to know everything. I still do a lot of driving, though. The beauty of L.A. is that it's always changing. The big thing is trying to mask the palm trees
Keeping all this in mind, we asked location managers, as well as Tony Reeves, author of "The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations," for some of the most well-recognized filming spots around Southern California.
Astro Family Restaurant
2300 Fletcher Drive, Los Angeles
Diners such as this Googie-design restaurant are frequently used because they have so much character, says Smith, who likes using the Astro because parking and other logistics are easy. He filmed here on HBO's "Six Feet Under," but the restaurant also has appeared in such shows as "Monk," "Sons of Anarchy," "Nip/Tuck" and "Daybreak"; in the Jennifer Lopez movie "The Cell"; and in a slew of commercials. Similar late-night hamburger paradises that have had their day in film include Swingers -- the Santa Monica location was in "Knocked Up" and the Beverly Boulevard site was in "Monk." Meanwhile, the movie "Swingers," Reeves writes on his website www.movie-locations.com, was partly concocted and filmed at Hollywood's 101 Coffee Shop when it was under a different name. TV credits for the cafe include "Entourage" and " Shark."
9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills
The hotel is perhaps most famous for standing in as the grandiose exterior and lobby in "Pretty Woman." Reeves writes via e-mail that "the rooms were a set built at the Disney studio in Burbank and bear little resemblance to the real thing." The movies "Bulworth" and "Beverly Hills Cop" also made use of the hotel's luxe décor.
99 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
The landmark Ambassador Hotel's demolition happened soon after filming began on "Bobby," a movie about the day Robert F. Kennedy was killed at that hotel. The next best thing? This historic Pasadena site, opened in 1899. Castle Green has had screen time in "The Sting," "The Last Samurai" and "We Were Soldiers." TV credits include " Brothers & Sisters," " Numb3rs," " Heroes," "CSI" and " CSI: Miami."