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Filming Locations: Turbo (2013)

Turbo is a 2013 American 3D computer-animated comedy sports film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is based on an original idea by David Soren, who also directed the film.The film features an ordinary garden snail whose dream to become the fastest snail in the world comes true. The film was released on July 17, 2013.
Along with Ryan Reynolds, who stars as the eponymous character, the film also features Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Snoop Dogg,Maya Rudolph, Michelle Rodriguez and Samuel L. Jackson (Wikipedia).

Turbo might be the fist animated film inspired and based in the San Fernando Valley. I first blogged about this back on August 9, 2013 when it was revealed by a LA Times Article by Rebecca Keegan on July 17, 2013 titled, "'Turbo' Is A Racing Snail From The Streets of the San Fernando Valley" as well as a Daily News article by Bob Strauss on July 15, 2013 titled "'Turbo' Director Takes Animated View of the San Fernando Valley" which is a better article describing the inspiration of the SFV. 

The story was developed by director David Soren who is a resident of Sherman Oaks. The idea of the snails and tomato garden literally comes from his house and backyard. The taco stand was based on the now closed Henry's Tacos in Studio City, and various street scenes, strip malls, freeways, homes, LA River, and the overall feel of the SFV were incorporated into this film. Soren intentionally made the film to not contain any specific locations that look recognizable but rather utilize various elements of the SFV to create locations and scenes as described in the quote below and shown in the following screenshots. 
"The nice thing about setting it in L.A. is that I could have our artists just go out and research from life, as opposed to what normally happens when the worlds are more fantastical and they have to go online and pull their reference from different sources," he continues. "In our case, we were able to get people into the Valley, down to strip malls and photographing things day and night. It was incredibly helpful to go to Henry's Tacos before it got shut down. Our production designer would get into a taco truck and photograph what that was like.
(several paragraphs down)..."Things like the river, the visual pollution that you see in the Valley -- billboards, telephone wires, power cables, the day-to-day quality of it really appealed to me," he says. "I guess I'm drawn more to that kind of industrial look. It's just a side of L.A. that's more real; more the L.A. that people live in than the Beverly Hills, Malibu and Hollywood that people usually live in in the movies." 
(several paragraphs down)...The whole story has a kind of vibe to it that, while not directly addressing the inferiority complex that pop culture has long tried to lay on the Valley, certainly evokes some of that feeling.

"Part of it is, it's an underdog story," Soren acknowledges. "I wanted to have Turbo come from a place where he aspired to find something better for himself. He comes from a garden and gets transplanted to this Starlight Plaza strip mall, which is ultimately a community of more like-minded souls that he feels more at home with. They don't let their limitations limit what they can do. Maybe there's a kind of an underdog status to the Valley that was subconscious, but it did fit the storytelling." 
And even if "Turbo" becomes a big box-office hit, he's probably staying.
"DreamWorks is set in Glendale, so the Valley, for me, has always made sense as a place to live," Soren says. "We've found great schools and met great friends in this area. Yeah, it feels like home." (Daily News)
On a separate but related note, there were other SFV connections used in this film such as:
  1. The snail, Burn, was voiced by Maya Rudolph who is in a relationship with Paul Thomas Anderson who is known for directing movies specifically about or based in the SFV like Boogie Nights (filming locations) and Magnolia (filming locations). The couple call Tarzana home and have 4 kids together. 
  2. Luis Guzman, who voices Angelo, has performed in most of Anderson's films based in the SFV.
  3. The song, "Jump Around" by House of Pain was created by Everlast, DJ Lethal, and Danny Boy who grew up in the SFV and attended Taft High school. 
  4. The production company behind this movie, DreamWorks, is headquartered in Glendale which is considered part of the SFV. 
  5. There may be other SFV connections but this is all I could find. 
You can view more SFV Filming Locations here.

Soren used his house for the home of Theo, a.k.a, Turbo which is located in Sherman Oaks as mentioned in the Daily News article:
"The first thing I did was bring our production designer over to my house and we did a little walking tour of the area," he reveals. "I wanted that kind of ranch-style house that's so iconic to the San Fernando Valley, so specific and that can have a great, middle class feeling to it. There are lots of other parts of the movie that had to be fabricated, but in this case, we just took the best examples of yards in the area, layouts of houses that suited our needs and just collaged it all together."

The actual home of David Soren in Sherman Oaks is shown below which was purchased by Soren on March 4, 2008 for $1,292,000. I wasnt able to acquire an image of the tomato garden but its definitely in this backyard. You can see some of the similarties from Soren's real home and the home used in the movie. 

Image courtesy Google Maps
Turbo makes his wish to be fast on a freeway overpass that looks like a typical LA freeway. Turbo falls into the LA River that resembles the Victory Blvd exit off the 134 where he becomes "turboized" as described in the Daily News article: 
The river bridge Turbo falls from is a pretty close facsimile to the one at the Victory Boulevard exit off the 134 that Soren drives over during his commute to and from DreamWorks' Glendale campus.

The SFV ranch style homes, neighborhoods, strip malls, and streets can be seen in the film as well.

The car wash resembles Premier Car Wash at 17438 Ventura Blvd in Encino which was built in 1966 originally known as the Auto Laundry by unknown architect but obviously utilizing the googie architecture style that defines mid-century SFV. 

Across from this location is the Encino Courtyard that was used in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Image courtesy Google Maps.
Image courtesy Jessica Hodgdon/LA Conservancy.
The former Henry's Tacos at 4389 Tujunga Avenue in Studio City was an inspiration for Dos Bros Tacos. 

The real Henry's Tacos prior to closing in 2012. 
The store "Valley Hobby" was used to represent a fictional hobby store. 

The "Ventura" freeway entrance can be seen in the upper left corner. 
"Starlight, on the other hand, was inspired by a dozen different strip malls." (Daily News)
Vanowen and Oxnard street signs can be seen in the bottom left corner. 

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Marty Mcfly

Anything and everything about the San Fernando Valley. This blog will take you back in time when the valley was covered with dirt and orange groves to a leader in the space race to its current status as America's suburb. Come along and join me on this adventure, I guarantee you have been influenced/impacted by the San Fernando Valley in one form or another even if you have never visited or heard of the SFV.

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