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    Posted October 9, 2013 by
    Rosarito, Mexico
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    iReport at the movies

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    Baja Studios Adds Redford Film to Impressive Repertoire

    Less than an hour’s drive from San Diego, standing sentry over 3,000 feet of craggy Pacific coast, is Baja Studios, best known for filming epic blockbuster hits like Titanic, Pearl Harbor, and Master and Commander. The self-contained production facility covers sets distributed over 46 acres, including the largest filming tanks in the world.

    “The Baja location is great because of the close proximity to Hollywood,” said Kurt Honold, the Tijuana-based President of Baja Studios, “Many of the actors live in Los Angeles and can go home on weekends.”

    Not all actors go home, however. Last summer there were sightings of Robert Redford lookalikes on Rosarito Beach. Only they weren’t doubles, they were the real thing. Mr. Redford, who was shooting his latest film, All is Lost, frequented the beach wearing a baseball cap and occupied the penthouse at the famous Rosarito Beach Hotel, made popular mid-century as a retreat that catered to Mexican presidents, international royalty, and Hollywood stars including Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, John Wayne.

    In this “man vs. sea” movie, All is Lost, is a story of as a lone sailor in the Indian Ocean whose yacht is slowly sinking. Redford, the only actor in the film, encounters a freak accident on his yacht which at first seems minor, but unravels to have catastrophic consequences. The movie will open in theaters on October 18th.

    Owned by 20th Century Fox until 2007, Baja Studios started offering tours to the public in 2001 under the name Foxploration. The tour showed visitors tricks of the film-making process of a working movie studio. Though now closed to the public, Mr. Honold made a phone call and scheduled a private tour for us for the next day.

    Rolando Navarro, our guide for the studio tour, started with Baja Studios as a movie extra – he was the sailor in the lifeboat that goes back for Rose in the movie Titanic. After that he was cast as in about half a dozen additional roles, then started doing tours, and eventually became the facility operations manager. “I can’t believe an event in 1912 changed my life in 1997,” said Navarro. A warm and gregarious Baja resident, Rolando’s insider knowledge of each set, combined with his sense of humor and endearing stories of some of the actors made for a very enjoyable day.

    Of course, I couldn’t resist the photo ops on the deck of the Titanic, in front of the Master and Commander ship, the streets of a small fishing village, or inside the “human cage” from Planet of the Apes.

    While considered the premiere facility for water-related filming, other movies such as 007: Tomorrow Never Dies, Jumper, Kung Pow, In Dreams, and Little Boy have also been filmed in Baja Studios.

    (Photo credit: Rosarito Beach Hotel)
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