You can expect there to be a media crush this Saturday when Marti Sementelli and Ghazaleh Sailors face each other in the first-ever high school baseball game featuring two female starting pitchers.
But don’t expect that to be a problem at Birmingham High in Van Nuys, Calif. –- a high school where it is unusual when cameras are not on campus.
-- Production crews were on site for 48 school days in 2009-10, the most of any school in Southern California.
-- Spare classrooms are reserved for filming -– or for classes to move to for the day should a company want a certain room.
-- Consent-to-be-filmed release forms are part of the registration process. Kids always have a
chance to be an inadvertent extra.
-- It’s enough for the school –- located near numerous production companies -– to be thought of
as “Hollywood High.”
Ironically, one of the main reasons the school is such a draw for studios is that it doesn’t have a Hollywood feel.
“We don’t have many palm trees,” says athletic director Rick Prizant with a laugh. “Most series and commercials want it to look like Ohio or Iowa. We can do that.”
Prizant, who has been at the school for more than 25 years, has one of the more unique titles in
the country -- athletic director/film coordinator.
The second part of the job keeps him busy.
“We probably have someone here 2-3 days a week,” he says. “We’re really big; we have 80 acres. And we have all sorts of facilities.”
Facilities the school works to make available.
“If they like a particular classroom, we’ll arrange for them to have it all day,” he says.
Many of the biggest names in Hollywood have been there recently, including Justin Timberlake, Lil Wayne, Billy Bob Thornton and Courteney Cox. "The Office," "Scrubs" and "America’s Next Top Model" have filmed episodes there. Gwen Stefani used the football field for the video to “Hollaback Girl.”
Perhaps it’s only fitting that many alums of the school have become big names in the entertainment industry. The school’s performing arts center is named after perhaps the most famous among them: Sally Field.
But Birmingham High does it for more than just star-gazing. Each day of filming is worth a few thousand dollars to the school -- a nice benefit in these economic times.
Filming, however, can bring controversy.
In 2009, the L.A. Schools superintendent got upset when he learned students participated in a shoot with Sacha Baron Cohen’s character “Bruno” which he found distasteful and inappropriate.
Despite the uproar, Prizant said the school will continue its relationship with the industry.
“We’re known as being film-friendly,” he says. “We have a good reputation. Once you get a good reputation, they keep coming back.”
Just as long as they don’t plant any palm trees.