MGM lot 3 is its own very special land. Nestled at the base of the Baldwin Hills Oil Fields, MGM uses its natural western looking landscape to frame its movies and TV series’. This lot is best known for war if you grew up in the 60’s- around here. Combat, The Rat Patrol and Garrison’s Gorillas gave us a longer war than WW2 did. The sounds of gunfire ripped through this area adjacent to the studio, scaring birds and critters that go about their business in this adjoining oil field.
First operated by Standard Oil, these oil fields behind the studio can be seen in several Twilight Zones including the episodes Dust and Rance Mcgrew. Combat made sure not to capture these hills since it would not match their location. Oil derricks by the hundred looked down on this backlot. This was a very quiet area when no filming was taking place, often the only sounds were birds and oil wells pumping. Sulphur smells can be detected all about this area.
Lot 3, like Lot 2, had different types of fences around its vast expanse. The views where the hills would be included had chain link so you could not easily tell there was a fence. You could clearly see inside. Except on the main streets that border this lot. They tried to hide the place but how do you hide a wall with a sky painted on it and an ocean that has seen more action the Caribbean, with all its Pirates? The entire lot stood out above and through these fences like a gorilla in a small, tight suit.
I think everyone growing up around here, trespassed here, very easy to access, but security has free range and use of firearms was standard. So, keep that in mind. Plenty of places to hide but, this lot is so big, running requires covering huge sometimes wide-open distances. I can outrun a guard, but not a jeep, or a bullet. The vast expanse worked for us, but also against us.
My pal Jimmy and I rode around this lot on the outside for years, on our sting rays. When we finally got the guts to venture inside, we meet guys who warned us they shoot here. They pointed to a flood control drainage area that works like a bunker. Trains line the south side of the lot, blocking the views of the western street, so we would stare under the train carriages, looking for security. This gun thing is scary, it just is, because it’s true!
It’s the only reason more people did not partake in this game.
My friend Pat was shot at on lot 2 in a chase, we split off in different directions and security fired two shots at Pat. It’s scary enough being chased by an angry guard in a speeding jeep but the sound of shots fired is something you don’t forget –when you’re the target.
The western streets line up back to back but other sets are spread out so it’s dangerous in the daytime and really scary at night. The lot is too big to feel like you mastered it, so expect the unexpected. It feels haunted because I think it is. All these backlots are, but this one takes the cake. No stages exist at Lot 3, it is pure wilderness, with various villages and streets sprinkled in.
It is now the site of Raintree and Tara Hill, it’s laid out nicely, incorporating much more MGM landscape than the Studio Estates “Mistakes” made over on on Lot 2.