MOVIES WAY BACK WHEN: Why Santa Barbara?

MOVIES WAY BACK WHEN: Why Santa Barbara? title=
In 1913, the “Flying A” filmed “In the Days of Trajan” at Montecito’s Gould estate. Estate photo from House Beautiful, March 1909. “Flying A” photo from Motography, September 20, 1913
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By Betsy J. Green

I've written in an earlier post that the "Flying A" moved to Santa Barbara from La Mesa in San Diego County in 1912. One reason was that we have a greater diversity of filming locations – mountains, beaches, historic adobes, mansions in Montecito, and islands – Santa Cruz in particular.

Another reason was the lack of afterhours activities in La Mesa. The Santa Barbara paper stated, "One reason why the company ["Flying A"] decided upon a change of base was that there were no amusements for the members of the company."

And a third reason was that Santa Barbara laid out the welcome mat for the movie company, mostly in the hopes that movies made here would encourage tourism. Quite the opposite occurred in La Mesa.

"When the company first came to La Mesa, there was a certain element of the town that raised its hands in horror, anticipating an influx of undesirables. A sermon was even preached against the company." (Santa Barbara Morning Press, July 21, 1912)

Betsy's Way Back When book -- 1919 -- is now available in local bookstores and at This is the sixth book in her series of the history of Santa Barbara, one year at a time. Learn more at​.
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