Hollywood comes to Berkeley for TV show, again

Two Hacienda Heights actors make their way to the Keneuoe Vivere store on College Avenue.

It isn’t only the people behind NBC series Parenthood who feel Berkeley is a choice spot to shoot a TV series. Yesterday, the Elmwood neighborhood paid host to a film crew shooting scenes for Hacienda Heights, a night-time drama (not a soap opera, one of the crew insisted) which takes its cues from the popular Latino telenovela format.

Local fashion design store Keneuoe Vivere was the focus of the action, as scenes were shot throughout the afternoon and evening. The show’s director, Desmond Gumbs, said he chose to film in Berkeley because it is such a “vibrant and colorful place”. Gumbs grew up in Hayward and, he says, “always loved College Avenue”.

The crew prepare to shoot an exterior scene.

The pilot for Hacienda Heights aired three years ago and, according to Gumbs, tested very well. Because the film business is a slow business, it is only now episodes for the series are being produced.

Hacienda Heights is set in a fictional town — despite there being a real place with that name — and is a dual language endeavor in that the predominantly Latino actors will record each scene in both English and Spanish so that the show can be broadcast in both languages. ‘There’s a void in the market for English-speaking Latino shows,” says Gumbs.


Ready for action: Hacienda Heights director Desmond Gumbs is at left.

Gumbs says the film crew may well be back at Keneuoe Vivere for future shoots — the store fits the bill for the Hacienda Heights characters who, it is to be surmised, love to shop.

Keep an eye out for the crew as they will be filming for two and a half months in the Bay Area including in other locations in Berkeley, as well as Pleasanton and Danville.

For a taste of Hacienda Heights watch the preview trailer. Gumbs says to expect the series to come to a TV screen near you sometime early next year.