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Arts and Entertainment

Hollywood Sign Lighting Mystery Solved! [UPDATED]

Photo by Tyler Shields via Instagram)
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We finally have an answer as to why the Hollywood sign was mysteriously lit on the nights of August 20 and 21 and why no one at the L.A. film office or the Hollywood sign knew about it.

With tons of tips pouring in from our avid readers (and input as well from Redditors), we learned that a film production was indeed shooting near the sign on the nights in question, although one that had evidently not gotten any permits to film near the heavily guarded landmark.

We even had someone who jogged past the shoot pinpoint the exact location, but still, the production itself remained a mystery.

Until a guy named Dave emailed us with this tip:

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i was there taking photos and I saw who did it! Tyler Shields was shooting his new film Outlaw. I met him and his co-star. her name was Ana she was a very sweet English girl. they took time to talk to me, they were very nice! When I asked them how they got permission everyone on the crew started laughing and said the name of the movie is Outlaw they didn't get permission for anything...

So, who is Tyler Shields? Wikipedia says he's "an American celebrity photographer, film director and former professional inline skater based in Los Angeles." He's photographed Lindsay Lohan and, much more infamously, his girlfriend, Francesca Eastwood (daughter of Clint Eastwood) destroying an expensive Birkin bag, which ignited its share of internet outrage.

Also inspiring outrage, his photos of a battered-looking Heather Morris from Glee, which prompted death threats.

Variety reports that Shields' new movie "follows the the dirty, sexy and dangerous life of a rogue photographer in Los Angeles... Pic goes into production this fall."

Variety lists the stars as Ana Mulvoy-Ten (star of House of Anubis), who is, yep, British. It also co-stars Ashley Bell, who was also in Shields' previous film, Final Girl, with Abigail Breslin and Wes Bentley.

We shot Shields an email asking to confirm whether his was the rogue production and received this unsigned email: "Tyler is out on set today but yes he has been shooting Outlaw and you can see his Instagram for a photo he took of the sign. The movie is incredible it's all shot in LA!"

Shields not only Instagrammed a picture of the lit-up sign, he tweeted, "This is what the Hollywood sign looks like when you put a few massive lights on it!"

Although he's not in the cast list of Outlaw on IMDB, One Tree Hill actor Eric McIntire tweeted that he was filming for Shields on August 20.

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So there you go. Not aliens or ghosts, just a rogue filmmaker.

UPDATED, August 25, 10:00 a.m. And there's another twist to this story. Although the Shields camp indicated that they were filming near the sign on those nights, another source insists that it was a different production responsible, a very hush-hush, high-profile one.

"A.A." emailed us and let us know that a post on Vintage Los Angeles had the right answer, it was actually David Cronenberg's new film Maps to the Stars, starring Robert Pattinson.

Nick Roth posted this to Vintage Los Angeles on Facebook, giving a location almost identical to one that our jogger tipster, Adam Boardman, supplied earlier.

"David Cronenberg is shooting a picture in the vacant lot just past 6105 Mulholland Hwy (an A-frame almost directly below the the sign—I used to live there). They built the set for a destroyed house and were shooting most of this past week. I know this because I still live nearby and walk past the vacant lot nearly every day. My brother and I were walking at the top of Mulholland Hwy when we ran into a production coordinator my brother has worked with in the past. She was putting up notices about the shoot (warning residents that there would be a film shooting that week) and she told us it was a Cronenberg picture. She probably wouldn't have told this to someone she didn't know and wouldn't have identified the director, but since she knew my brother, she told us. It's possible she was mistaken, but it's not likely.


August 20, 2013. Robert Pattinson gets ready to film scenes for his new movie 'Map to the Stars' in Los Angeles. Photograph: ©
Why didn't the Film LA office just let us know, since Cronenberg would surely get permits? "You will probably run into dead ends trying to get any info on Mr. Cronenberg's film. Everyone is legally obliged NOT to discuss any details of the film or its making," writes A.A., who says he was there. "The Cronenberg film used code words for everything (title, talent, locations) to confuse nosy outsiders. Paparazzi still hid in the bushes."We do indeed have several paparazzi shots of the Twilight star on location on August 20 and 21, although none of them show the Hollywood sign. It also lit up gossip columns for the lip lock between Pattinson and his co-star, Alice in Wonderland's Mia Wasikowska. In the film, Pattinson plays a limo driver obsessed with Wasikowska, a pyromaniac.

So which is it: Rogue production? Top-secret Hollywood film? A.A. tells us that he never saw the Outlaw production and he didn't clarify whether the Cronenberg film shot into the night.

My friend who's a location manager told me it's "very likely" that more than one production would be shooting near the sign on a given day, but said that he "can't imagine" shooting without a permit.

We're going to put in calls to Film LA when they open on Monday but if A.A. is correct, or it was a production without permits, they won't be any help.

When we started looking into this, we expected to hear that the sign was officially lit up for its 90th anniversary, but it seems sort of fitting that it ended up being far more complex and mysterious than that.

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