Santa Clarita Guide, What To Do in Santa Clarita

In SCV We Own and Operate


Eve Bushman Special to Santa Clarita Guide

Behind the Scenes
Yes, Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr, Burt Reynolds, and Tim Allen have all been here in Santa Clarita. But you probably wouldn't have run into them, as they work at a hidden movie ranch in the canyons of Santa Clarita. No, we can't tell you where it is, but...

Whether born and raised here or somewhere else, Santa Claritans have found that this is the place to build our homes and businesses, to be entertained and entertain, to look forward to come home to, every day.

And when we are just settling in for the evening to enjoy our favorite television drama, one of our locals is still busy at work creating the magic that put it on our television screens.

Rene Veluzat is a name familiar to many locals as the brains, and brawn, behind Blue Cloud Motion Picture Ranches. He works double the hours of the average full time work week. He comes home at night to a house he built, room by room, as his movie-making business took off. And, he was kind enough to spend his morning with me.

"My day starts at 5 am with up to 30 phone calls," Rene begins. "I'm proud to always be reachable. If you want Afghan goats for the US Army to make a training film, I can get them. You want Afghan dirt I will drive the water truck myself over my land to keep the dust to a minimum. Same goes for supplying 40 safe and tidy sets in my two ranches, gunfire, medics, firefighters, Blackhawk and Apache helicopters, Humvees and other types of cars we can wreck, as well as the battalions of troops needed for your shoot."

"I came about starting this ranch as my wife told me to. I had already worked for 45 years as a contractor building and remodeling homes and was a teamster driver. I told my realtor to find me 100 acres in this area and she got back to me in 3 days. I knew just where to build my town to save lighting. I had enough parking to provide a base camp here to save money as well."

"Back then producers were asking for Afghan towns. I didn't know why. I stayed up late watching a lot of CNN, and then, started building like crazy."

"I had a big job clearing out the site. There was so much brush, weeds, trash and debris it was going to take a lot of time and money to clean it all up."

And here is where Rene's talent as an entertaining storyteller started to kick in.

"We had a big fire back here then. It was great for burning off everything I would have had to move. There I was trying to round up all of my movie vehicles away from the flames, then from above, a fire department helicopter doused me, and everything else, with water. I figured he felt sorry for 'the poor '#*@%&' trying to save a bunch of junk.'"

And from there Rene just continued to roll out the stories.

"The gun fire on my sets can get on anyone's nerves. When I get home at night and my wife asks me about my day I don't have to answer her. She can tell by how much my hand shakes when I lift my glass of Jack Daniels, just as well as I can, to my mouth."

Some of the more recent shows Rene has busted up cars for and built Tibet in a day for include Bust It, History Channel's Patton, Alias, Reno 911, NCIS, The Unit, JAG, Weeds, and Ugly Betty. And one of the biggest productions at the ranch turned out to be the biggest blockbuster this summer: Iron Man.

"Jesse James, the biker married to Sandra Bullock, used my 50's ranch to do a full body burn, we've built adobe buildings, had a Cessna busted up in a reality show, changed my Aphgan town to Tibet and added a Mexican jungle."

"One of the biggest productions that almost took place here was my son's wedding," Rene said through a wicked smile. "I offered him a fairy tale wedding, a new car and a honeymoon in Hawaii, and for some reason he wouldn't do it."

And then came his movie star sightings. Rene has an autographed photo and memorabilia collection that our local historical society would be interested in. He owns an ape mask that he wore filming the original Planet of the Apes.

"The Humane Society ordered our horses out of the heat but not us. We had been putting 10 pounds of ice under those masks to keep us cool. But we couldn't do anything to keep that monkey suit from burning us up in the shade-less corn fields of Arizona. I had to give back the suit but I got to keep the mask. Then, years later on my ranch, I met the actual guy that had been the pyrotechnician."

Rene admits that he looks forward to meeting the stars and providing them with VIP services. For Tim Allen, Tom Cruise, Lee Majors, Don Knotts or Kathryn Bell, Rene finds just the right way to make them comfortable.

"When I saw this limo driving alongside my army trucks I stopped the driver and asked him who told him to drive there. 'My boss told me to.' he replied. Then the back window slid down and Tim Allen stuck his head out and announced, 'That's me'. So I drove him around myself. He signed a photo for me with his name and trademark 'R, R, R, R' from his old Tool Time days."

"When I heard that Burt Reynolds was coming to make a western I wondered if he would remember me from a shoot 30 years ago. Back then the director surprised me by asking that I do a small part, sent me to wardrobe and makeup, and was told to play a frightened barbed wire salesman."

"I was part of a group being held up in a stagecoach," Rene continued. "I was just supposed to shake all over when the bad guy asked me what was in my bag. When I told the guy that it was barbed wire he shot me, saying, 'I hate barbed wire.' So Burt, not the guy that killed me that day, actually remembered me and signed a photo for me too."

"Meeting Tom Cruise was a big day for me here. Why would a guy that famous shake my hand? I washed my hands, rubbed in lotion and wore white gloves the whole week before."

"When his helicopter arrived I was ready with my camera attached to my hip. I figured I owned the ranch, he was my guest, he might say no…so I made a point of being his yes man throughout the shoot. When he did shake my hand at the end of the day I couldn't help myself. I called out, 'Tom, how about a photo?' while all of his producers watched me."

"Cruise walked over to me and stood within a inch of my face. He said, 'Rene, I don't think so.' Then, three beats later, Cruise comes back with, 'Rene, only if we take it together.' And he handed my camera to one of his producers. He would only take a photo with me in it with him."

"Tom Cruise knew I was never going to sell that photo. He turned to me and said, 'Thanks a million. Bye.'".

Thanks a million Rene. You're worth it in this town.
Endorsed by
County of Los Angeles SCV Chamber of Commerce California Travel and Tourism Commission
In association with
City of Santa Clarita SCV Tourism Bureau
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