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On location in Del Norte

Imperial stormtroopers capture Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) during the filming of “Return of the Jedi” in 1982 in a privately owned redwood grove that has since been logged near Smith River.
Imperial stormtroopers capture Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) during the filming of “Return of the Jedi” in 1982 in a privately owned redwood grove that has since been logged near Smith River. Lucasfilm Ltd.
Film buffs hoping to walk in E.T.’s footsteps or meet an Ewok will soon have a map and markers to guide them to the right spots. The Redwood Region Entertainment and Education Liaisons Inc., which serves as the film commission for Del Norte and Humboldt counties, is in the beginning stages of creating a map of the stars for the region. 

It would help visitors find set locations for well-known films like “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” and “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial,” said Film Commissioner Cassandra Hesseltine. 

It will also include locations for lesser-known films and even music videos.

“Tim McGraw’s music video ‘Not a Moment Too Soon’ (was) filmed at Battery Point Lighthouse,” Hesseltine said. “We’ll include that on the tour because that’s an iconic spot and he’s a well-known musician.”

Hesseltine pitched the map of the stars idea to an advisory group consisting of government and tourism industry representatives from Del Norte and Humboldt. It would be a successor to one developed by Humboldt County resident Tom Murray in 1997, the same year the second “Jurassic Park” movie was filmed in Redwood National and State Parks, she said. 

Clyde Eller shows his “Jedi” souvenir rock at Fort Dick Market in 2008.
Clyde Eller shows his “Jedi” souvenir rock at Fort Dick Market in 2008. Del Norte Triplicate file / Bryant Anderson
The new map would appear in a brochure form that can be obtained at the local visitors bureau, Hesseltine said. An electronic version would also be available online.

Hesseltine is figuring out the movie scenes that will be depicted on the map. Her goal is to create a route that people can follow in a self-guided tour. The commission has also hired a graphic designer to design the brochure and location markers, she said. 

She said she got the idea for an updated map of the stars about a year ago from Bill Renfroe, former executive director for the Tri Agency Economic Development Authority. Renfroe pointed out the publicity Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” novels and the subsequent films have brought to Forks, Wash., she said.

“Forks got really smart and put signs everywhere,” Hesseltine said, adding that there is even a reserved parking sign for the Dr. Cullen character at Forks Community Hospital. “A lot of people love movies and they get excited about the movies. Combine that with a beautiful area and tourism, (it’s) one more way to capitalize on all of the films that have been filmed here.”

Movies have been made on California’s North Coast since 1916, Hesseltine said. In Del Norte, one of the earliest movies listed on the film commission’s website is the 1947 MGM film “Green Dolphin Street.”

County Supervisor Mike Sullivan brought the Film Commission’s project to the attention his fellow supervisors last week.

An Ewok on the planet Endor — actually the Del Norte redwoods — during filming of “Return of the Jedi” in 1982.
An Ewok on the planet Endor — actually the Del Norte redwoods — during filming of “Return of the Jedi” in 1982. Lucasfilm, Ltd.
“For those folks that are really into that, it’s a pretty cool thing to get them to visit different places in Del Norte,” he said. “Folks can get a map and see where ‘Return of the Jedi’ was filmed and down in Humboldt County a couple new films have come out.”

The map will also include information for movies shot in Humboldt County including “Outbreak,” “The Majestic” and M. Night Shyamalan’s new film, “After Earth.”

Reach Jessica Cejnar at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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