La Honda

Whereas most examples of film noir take place in the seedy underside of a city, Live or Die in La Honda will almost exclusively be shot in and around La Honda, California – a small town of 1000 in the Santa Cruz Mountains about a half hour west of Palo Alto. A strong environmental movement has protected the natural beauty of the area, resulting in an abundance of state and county parks, beaches, and open space preserves in and around La Honda. Within a half hour radius of town center, the area boasts thousands of redwoods, the Pacific Ocean, several state beaches, rocky bluffs, coastal farmland, and a mountain ridgeline view of Silicon Valley.

In addition to its geological diversity, La Honda has an interesting cultural history. Several bandits, including members of the infamous Jesse James Gang, hid in town back when it was primarily populated by loggers. Decades later it became the home of renowned writer Ken Kesey, which served as his base of operations with his Merry Pranksters. Their wild escapades and encounters with Timothy Leary, Hell’s Angels, and The Grateful Dead are memorably chronicled in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Today it serves as home to a mix of eclectic artists, tech workers, and blue-collar folks who share the need to get away from the hustle and bustle over the hill in Silicon Valley.

The people of La Honda were instrumental in getting this movie made. They opened their homes to allow cast and crew to stay with them during production. They allowed us to shoot scenes in their homes and businesses. Several appear in supporting roles. The entire production owes a tremendous amount of gratitude to these wonderful people.

Central to the town, both physically and spiritually, is Apple Jack’s. Built in the 1870s, this dive bar is the only game in town and was recently named among the top 32 dive bars in the country (#12). You can’t make a movie in La Honda without Apple Jack’s, and it will serve as one of the key locations of the movie.

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