ABC’s ‘Modern Family’ films season nine premiere in South Lake Tahoe
Television stars Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould and Rico Rodriguez were spotted at local “escape room” business Trapped in Tahoe multiple times this past week, and it’s no coincidence the actors were in South Lake Tahoe at the same time.
ABC’s Emmy Award-winning television show “Modern Family” got a taste of Tahoe from Tuesday, Aug. 22, through Friday, Aug. 25: The cast and crew shot the entirety of the season nine premiere on the basin’s South Shore.
In the first episode of the year, the Dunphy-Pritchett clan goes on a houseboat vacation — and for those planning on watching the show’s fall debut, you might recognize the scenery as that which surrounds Camp Richardson.
“We wanted beauty, and were specifically looking for the ‘wow’ factor,” executive producer Jeffrey Morton said, referencing the team’s search for the best spot to shoot the episode.
The crew began scouting locations at the start of June, looking at areas in Oregon, British Columbia and lakes near Southern California (the show regularly films in Los Angeles) — but only select bodies of water in California allow houseboats, which was required for the episode’s plot.
Lake Tahoe became the team’s first choice of location, and after upwards of four scouting trips it was locked down in large part due to the efforts of “Modern Family” location manager Jordana Kronen.
After evaluating the expense of bringing in three houseboats — one for each of the comedy show’s star families — the crew discovered the local, privately owned Sierra Rose yacht and worked out an agreement to film a majority of the episode onboard.
“It’s big enough to get everyone on that,” Morton noted. “The local community made it easy.”
In addition to the Sierra Rose, which was docked at Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina for filming, “Modern Family” staff hired local marine crews and equipment, booked rooms at local hotels and hired local drivers, security and caterers.
“It takes a village, and everyone was on board,” said Kathleen Dodge, executive director of the El Dorado Lake Tahoe Film & Media Office. “From Sue Novasel at the county to Carol Chaplin at Tahoe South and support from the Forest Service, we’re team Tahoe. It’s what we do on South Shore.”
While most of the episode was shot at Camp Richardson — one cabin was temporarily transformed into a bait shop for the show — “Modern Family” crew also made stops at D.L. Bliss State Park and Emerald Bay.
“This episode is a picture postcard of vacationing in Tahoe,” Dodge said. “Most episodics don’t go on location, so getting one episode shot in one county is huge.”
Although this is not the first time large- or small-screen entertainment has found its setting at Tahoe — “Smokin’ Aces,” “Last Weekend,” “City of Angels,” “The Bodyguard” and more all feature snippets of the region — Dodge expects this project to have a lasting impact on the basin’s role in the industry.
“Everyone will be watching across the United States — some 11 million. [The episode] will re-run for decades, and you just can’t beat that,” she said. “The film commission builds just like any business, and reputation builds over time.”
As many people on film crews are freelance workers, Dodge’s role is to provide them with a positive experience so they remember the area and return to the region for future projects. She works on approximately 25 to 30 projects each year, but it is rare that something of this magnitude crosses her path.
“This is sweet,” Dodge said. “We get some reality TV, but not much episodic, which is becoming a dream for the future. The economy picks up… Tahoe is the star of this episode.”
Stay tuned to http://www.tahoedailytribune.com for official photos from ABC of the show’s time in South Lake Tahoe. Season 9 of “Modern Family” premieres on ABC Wednesday, Sept. 27.