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Spotlight: Location Manager Craig Van Gundy

From our August 2018 magazine issue:

Craig Van Gundy has brought multiple projects to Long Beach as a location manager, including films such as “Eagle Eye,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks,”and television shows “Ray Donovan” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”

Long Beach 908 Magazine caught up with Van Gundy, as he scouted El Dorado Park recently for an upcoming television project, and chatted about his experiences.

What keeps you coming back to Long Beach for film locations?

The Long Beach Film office is extraordinary. Long Beach is film-friendly, and they really go out of their way to make sure things work. [Long Beach Film Commissioner] Tasha Day has been an integral part of filming in Long Beach. She’s resourceful, really helpful, and alerts local police and fire, and keeps everyone informed in what’s going on for a particular film project. I’ve also worked with John Robinson for several years through Long Beach Locations. He’s really helpful with getting locations like private businesses and homes, and other properties available for location filming. There are also areas that have terrific old craftsman homes. On the first “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” we used two of those homes for locations and they’re in an area alongside Ocean Boulevard close to Third Street.

What’s this 30-mile filming zone that Long Beach is a part of that I keep hearing about?

The zone has been decided long ago that if you’re working in this radius [from Los Angeles,] you don’t have to pay any additional travel fees for shooting. It reaches just to the southeast end of Long Beach. It goes out to Malibu and all the way down to Long Beach—it’s an incredibly diverse area. Within that radius, you go from beautiful beaches to super dry desserts and everything in between.

You’ve been the location manager on Showtime’s television show “Ray Donovan,” and I understand you’ve shot in Long Beach for that show as well.

Yes, we’ve shot Ray Donovan on a number of occasions...that was the last time I’ve been in Long Beach for a production. We shot at the Long Beach Convention Center in the main theatre; we did a symposium for a Tony Robbins-type character in the show... I also remember a scene we shot downtown where the Blue Line Metro is located. We closed down a street for a stunt where somebody jumped out of a car.

What do you remember of shooting at the Pyramid for the movie “Little Nicky” starring Adam Sandler?

We had thousands of extras, and people at the college were really great. The scene came out terrific. It was for a basketball scene. The way that the stadium was laid out, and the relationship between the stands and the court was terrific—we chose the Pyramid because it was very similar-looking to a professional basketball stadium.

What was your funniest memory shooting in Long Beach?

I worked on “Jackass 3D…” We had a number of different pranks we were doing in Long Beach, one of which was that we had a guy in a wheelchair and he was supposed to have a fake leg. We had another couple who was out walking their dog and the dog comes up to the guy in the wheelchair and bites on his prosthetic leg and runs away with the leg….Well, we thought that was really funny, but other people didn’t think so because apparently, during the afternoon that we did this, the Long Beach Police Department received like a hundred calls... Anytime we were doing work down in Long Beach, we had an officer with us—someone who could intervene—making sure we were doing what we were supposed to be doing. People are very concerned citizens and look after their neighbors in Long Beach.

That’s funny! Lastly, can you tell us what brings you down to El Dorado Park?

Five years ago, I transitioned to television from films. I’ve been working on a show called “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” We are looking for a place to film the title sequence for the upcoming season. Production is looking for a bucolic setting with a water feature and a park that is a very pretty place.


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