BBC shines light on foothills

February 05, 2003 11:00 pm

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

In early March, the British Broadcasting Corp. will begin shooting "The Working Giant," a television documentary about the transcontinental railroad.

Filming will take place at the Murphys Hotel in Murphys and also in Tuolumne County at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown. Some demolition scenes will be shot at Sierra Rock Products, also in Jamestown.

The show will be one of a seven-part series about industrial wonders of the world.

The last commercial film footage shot in Calaveras County, in May, was for the Discovery Channel show, "Animal Planet." A small English film crew caught action at the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee for a special about large amphibians.

However, the last feature film to be shot in Calaveras was "Bonanza: The Return," which used scenes in San Andreas in 1990. In Tuolumne County, "Redemption of the Ghost" and "Song of the Lark" were shot in 1999.

Calaveras County Film Commissioner Cheryl McIntire said she hopes this project — which will also include scenes in other parts of Northern California — will spark a film resurgence in the foothills, especially in Calaveras.

"We're really excited because it's been quite a while since the last one," McIntire said.

McIntire, a Jamestown resident, found out about the BBC special through her job at Sacramento-based Media Casting. The BBC had planned to shoot the railroad episode in Nevada or Utah.

McIntire took action. She began talking with BBC officials in October. A month later, she had convinced them to shoot scenes in the Mother Lode.

"Hopefully, we'll get a whole lot more," said McIntire, an actress for 17 years and Drew Barrymore's double in the 1994 film "Bad Girls" — which included scenes filmed in Tuolumne County.

Both Calaveras and Tuolumne counties have rich, big-screen traditions. Numerous films — including "Back to the Future III," "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and "High Noon" — were filmed here. Television shows such as "Little House on the Prairie" and "Highway To Heaven" also used the foothills as their backdrops.