Originally Published: March 31, 2014 6:01 a.m.
It's not uncommon to visit a place and have someone tell you what movie was filmed there at some point in time. At the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California that might be "The Lost Boys." In Astoria, Oregon, it might be the house where "The Goonies" was filmed. Closer to Prescott those stories would include the Peach Springs area, where a number of vehicles were filmed launching into Grand Canyon for a fiery Hollywood finish.
And Prescott itself, from "The Getaway" to "Billy Jack," has become well known for its connection to the silver screen. Local filmmaker Andrew Johnson-Schmitt even used the town for his recent independent film "Dead Votes Society."
It's Arizona's rich connection to film that led author Lili Debarbieri, a graduate of Prescott College, to write her recent non-fiction book "Location Filming in Arizona: The Screen Legacy of the Grand Canyon State," published this month by The History Press. It's available wherever books are sold, and online via Amazon, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere.
"The idea for the book was kind of an extension of the first book I did with The History Press, 'A Guide to Southern Arizona's Historic Farms and Ranches,' and I kept coming across these stories about movie stars who would stay on some of the properties that I was writing about or movies that had filmed on the property or nearby," Debarbieri said.
Add to that her interest in classic Hollywood films and she began to ask questions about other films that shot on location in the state.
"I did a little more research and it was kind of like Pandora's Box. I found out there were so many movies that were shot in all parts of the state," she said.
The book, she said, is comprehensive, but small enough to be enjoyed at the same time and breaks ground in being the first resource guide for Arizona film buffs that collects the information into one place.
Debarbieri said a number of Prescott's film connections, such as the Hassayampa Inn, the Elks Theater and courthouse plaza, could be found inside the new book.
"I was lucky enough to get a lot of good photos from people who had worked at Old Tucson Studios, Southwest Studios in Phoenix, historical societies, which are a great resource," Debarbieri said.
Prescott College itself, she said, was once the site of one of the earliest film studios in the state.
"When you're focusing specifically on movie ties, you can see all the towns in a new and interesting way and I think Prescott is kind of under the radar location that I was glad to highlight in the book," Debarbieri said.
She spent nearly a year on the book, but a lot of time prior to that working out the details of the project in her head.
"You think about the book and then you put in a proposal for the book and then there's more research," Debarbieri said. "I had a lot of fun and The History Press is a wonderful publisher to work with. If I wasn't writing this kind of book, I would be reading the titles they produce."
Debarbieri embarked on a promotional tour to for her new book this month. On Saturday, April 26, she'll sign copies and offer a brief presentation at the Peregrine Book Company. The Peregrine Book Company is located at 219 N. Cortez Street. The event begins at 2 p.m. Prior to that, she'll visit the Well Read Coyote in Sedona on Saturday, April 19, at 2 p.m.
For more on Debarbieri, visit her website at http://lilidebarbieri.com.
Follow reporter Patrick Whitehurst on Twitter @pwdcourier