The story behind Hollywood's yellow location signs

crew-parking.jpgLA Observed file photo

You have seen them all over LA, but especially downtown. The telltale yellow directional signs, often with an obscure code word, that point crew members and delivery trucks to the scene of a location shoot for a film, TV episode or commercial. KPCC's Kevin Ferguson visited with a location manager, and the Arts District company that makes a lot of the signs, for "Off-Ramp."

But it's 2015. The age of the smartphone, the built in navigation system, Waze. Why do the cast and crew need yellow and black signs pointing the way?

Byll Williams is a location manager who works in Los Angeles, and he says it isn't that simple. "Everybody, when they're an individual, is very intelligent," he says. "When they're a group, for some reason, intelligence goes on the window. And they get lost on one way streets."


Sometimes, though, the production company doesn't want to reveal its name, or the project it's working on. Signs for "The Dark Knight Rises" read "Magnus Rex." "We Bought a Zoo," the Cameron Crowe movie, had the code word "Heima" — Icelandic for home. It keeps the super fans and paparazzi away. Williams says commercial shoots are starting to use the signs, too.

If you need one of the signs yourself, your best bet is to hit up JCL Traffic—one of the leading manufacturers. In their Arts District warehouse, they make traffic signs for every occasion: no parking, road work ahead, lane closed and the humble, yellow-and-black set location signs.

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