Chatsworth’s Hollywood Film History


Chatsworth’s striking geography and sweeping vistas have made it a popular filming location for decades.

In the 1920s, the rising popularity of westerns made the remote (at that time!) foothills of the San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley perfect for filming. Movie ranches – dedicated entirely to creating and producing films – began to pop up. To achieve greater scope, productions would conduct location shooting in farther parts of California, Arizona, and Nevada, but travel expenses for production staff created a dispute between workers and the studios. The studios came to an agreement with the union workers that workers would be paid extra to work “out of town,” which was defined as 30 miles from the studio. Chatsworth hit this sweet spot almost exactly, which explains Chatsworth’s Hollywood film history! Today’s Chatsworth homeowners still enjoy this perfect distance from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles: peacefully removed, but conveniently accessible.

One incredibly popular location for filming that’s still recognizable today is the Chatsworth Nature Preserve (CNP). Today, the CNP includes the Chatsworth Reservoir and over 1300 acres of preserved open space in the foothills of the Simi Hills. This beautiful area is a great example of the unique and stunning topography of Chatsworth, and supports more than 200 local bird species, as well as other local wildlife. Check out these clips of old Westerns filmed at the Chatsworth Reservoir! Do you recognize those hills?

Chatsworth Reservoir filming location

This video shows some of the more significant landscape features that attracted Hollywood to the Chatsworth area. Chatsworth’s film legacy lasted almost three quarters of a century.

Huge thanks to Jerry England for the great videos!

Our listing at 11646 Poema Place actually includes a particularly awesome piece of Hollywood history on the property. The Lone Ranger’s “Ambush Rock” is part of the backyard!


Here’s a blurry capture of an ambush in action, courtesy of the Iverson Movie Ranch blog:


It’s estimated that over 2,000 films and television shows were filmed on the movie ranches and wild landscapes of Chatsworth. Here are just a few: Hell’s Angels (1930) with Jean Harlow and Richard Arlen, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936) with Sylvia Sydney and Henry Fonda, Stagecoach (1939) with John Wayne, Wee Willie Winkie (1937) with Shirley Temple… So many more!