The season finale for the new ABC Family series, Bunheads–about a Las Vegas dancer living in a small California town who helps her mother-in-law run a dancing school for young women–will air Monday night.
If you’ve been following the show, you may have noticed that Paradise, the fictional town where the show is set, looks familiar. That’s because much of it is shot in and around Calamigos Ranch, located on the border of Agoura Hills and Malibu.
Throughout the season, the writers have toyed with the location of Paradise, making tongue and cheek references to real locations along the southern California coast.
For example, in the fourth episode of Season 1, Fanny, lead character Michelle's mother-in-law, makes a tongue-in-cheek remark about Oxnard.
Fanny: Best view of Oxnard is in the rear view mirror.
Michelle: You should Tweet that.
Fanny: I don't do that.
Michelle: Me neither.
“The manager of the ranch, Fred Savage, is extremely film friendly, he really made it work for us,” said Tano Tropia, the location manager for Bunheads.
Tropia said that the crew and writers had such a good experience when they filmed parts of the pilot on location there, they decided to use the ranch as one of the show's primary locales.
“[The production staff] liked it so much they wanted to go back, so we negotiated with them to shoot the whole season there,” Tropia said.
Michelle’s cottage is one of the many sets filmed at the Ranch. Tropia said that the versatility of the area allowed the crew to create much of the fictional town there.
“Calamigos Ranch has so many different looks. They have ponds, various buildings, woods, a lake,” said Tropia. “There's so many structures ... that work so well and it’s really good for production.”
In the show, the estate Michelle lives on not only has a primary house, a dance studio and a cottage, but also bodies of water, as referenced in the third episode.
Michelle: I have a lake?
Claire: You have one lake and two swampy ponds. Plus geese.
Savage, a fan of the show himself, said that it is great to have the production based at the Ranch.
“We love them filming here; it's a special thing to have,” he said.
The premisis, including Camp Summertime, remain open during filming.
“Most people like it and are excited by it and are really curious,” Savage said.
Savage said he is thrilled that Calamigos Ranch works for the fictional beachside community of Paradise.
“It's a small town place so the ranch works as a set for a small type town,” he said.
Bunheads was just picked up for more episodes to run this winter.
Also, if you're interested in learning more about how Calamigos Ranch was used in the show, check out Bunheads set designer Jean Harter's blog to get an the inside scoop.