Is Simi Valley located in a Galaxy Far, Far Away? Well, it is now.
I’ve spoken before about Simi Valley, and how it’s been a popular set location for many shows and movies throughout the years. Although there are many iconic movies and franchises that have filmed here, thus far, it has only been featured in one of the two big “Star” franchises. It was featured a couple of times in Star Trek: The Next Generation, but, it was never part of the Star Wars universe, until now.
The Mandalorian, has been a pretty big hit over the past two years. If you’re a fan of the show, which you should be, you may be surprised that prior to season two, nothing had ever been shot on location.
The entirety of the first season was shot on a sound stage and in front of a real-time, responsive LED screen. The technology is really impressive, and a huge leap beyond green and blue screen technology.
However, the storytelling in Chapter 14 of the show, was so large in scale, that the shows creators had no choice, but to shoot on location. Like many movies, and shows before it, they choose Simi Valley as that location. More specifically, the Santa Susana Pass, an area of rocky terrain that sits along the 118 Freeway, and is wedged between Simi Valley, and Chatsworth.
Now, that’s a pretty big area, so I want to thank the internet sleuths over at the Iverson Movie Ranch Blog for pinpointing the exact shooting location.
They were able to take a couple of stills from the show and found the exact locations on Google Maps. That’s some highly impressive detective work if I may say so.
The actual location is up the Rocky Peak Park trail, which you can get to off of Rocky Peak Road off the 118 Freeway. Get off at the exit and head north of the Freeway. There is a small gravel lot at the beginning of the trail. You can only get there by foot, which means that the production crew of the Mandalorian had to carry all of that heavy gear up the trail. Some of those camera rigs are like fifty pounds.
According to David Klein, the directory of photography on the show, because the area was so dry during production, they couldn’t set off any fires, or explosions, so most of the effects were added later during post production.
The one exception was when actress Ming-Na Wen was running on the rocks, with explosions all around here, those were the only practical effects.
So that’s it. Simi Valley is officially a part of Star Wars canon. And it’s long overdue if you ask me. The original Star Wars was shot in 1977, so it’s taken 43 years for Simi Valley to get some love. For shame Hollywood, for shame.