A former caterer, David Biber, has built a film studio on a five-acre ranch – Hidden Oaks Ranch & Studio – in the North County community of Rainbow.
So far, one feature film has been shot at the studio, “Come Out,” a horror/suspense movie due for release on streaming channels next summer.
Sheldon Woodson Sr., who wrote, directed and stars in “Come Out” with his wife, Vanessa Dehesa-Woodson, said that the ranch is a perfect location for filmmaking.
“It was pretty much exactly what I needed,” Woodson said. “It is a full functioning movie studio, especially with the grounds. You’ve got the wooded area and the trails – just a lot of potential for anybody who’s looking to do a film.”
Woodson said that he’s already planning to shoot at least one more movie at Hidden Oaks.
“It’s the perfect spot for independent film makers, even majors, depending on what you want to do,” Woodson said.
The ranch includes a bunkhouse of sorts in a renovated horse barn where film crews can stay while using the studio. There’s even a helipad.
There’s also a 2,000-square-foot single-family home on the ranch where Biber and his wife live and a 1,800-square-foot duplex, where his two adult daughters live.
“I built the studio from scratch, the whole thing,” Biber said. “We’re constantly building and remodeling.”
Finished at the end of 2021 the studio includes a green screen that is 40 feet wide, 20 feet deep and 15-feet tall – “one of the largest green screens in Southern California,” Biber said.
Green screens are large green backdrops placed in the background of shots to allow for digital effects to be added later.
The studio also includes equipment for broadcasting live television presentations.
Biber said he bought the property in 2018 for $735,000 and spent about $500,000 renovating and building the studio.
“I was going to retire from the events industry because my wife said I was too old at 70 to be a roadie,” Biber said. “I decided if I was going to move some place, I wanted to have someplace peaceful and I wanted a place where my children can live.”
He had been living in Dana Point. Biber said his wife found the ranch while searching for property online.
“When we looked at it, I fell in love with the property. I fell in love with it driving up to it,” Biber said.
Biber has had a varied career, working at various times in public relations, as a computer consultant, teaching cooking classes, catering, writing a cookbook on barbecuing, and now film making.
“Its’ definitely been a roller coaster ride,” he said. “I’ve been very lucky in life, very fortunate to have been at the right place at the right time so many times.”
He said he first became interested in filmmaking as a junior in a high school audio visual club in Des Moines, Iowa, an interest that grew as he met various filmmakers and celebrities through events that he catered.
Biber said the ranch is ideal for filmmaking partly because of its isolation.
“It’s three miles from the closest street light so we have little to no light pollution and almost no noise pollution because we’re in a bowl of mountain ridges,” Biber said. “It’s kind of a magical place here.”
At one time, the ranch was used to train Tennessee Walking Horses, Biber said, adding, “I thought all horses knew how to walk.”
Hidden Oaks is in the Santa Margarita mountain range, between a nature conservancy and native American ancestral land, Biber said, so there won’t be much new development around it.
Teaming up with Biber at Hidden Oaks is Steve “Chef Roc” Cassarino, who is building a set for a cooking show at the ranch.
Cassarino, who lives in Rancho Bernardo, has a streaming cooking show, “Chef Roc,” available on Roku and other streaming services.
According to the biography he posted on the Hidden Oaks website, Cassarino from 1984 to 2012 paired up with another chef as “The Clever Cleaver Brothers” to produce and star in televised cooking vignettes they called “Kitchen Cut-Ups.”
“We were cooking with comedy. We were kind of the original crazy TV chefs,” Cassarino said.
Cassarino said he that he met Biber through events catered by the company Biber owned prior to Hidden Oaks, Two Guys Grilling.
The Hidden Oaks studio fills a void in San Diego County, Cassarino said. “There’s nothing like this in San Diego. You have to go to L.A. for something like this.”
Hidden Oaks is “opening the door right now to something new that San Diego’s never had,” Cassarino, said, adding that word about the studio is starting to circulate throughout Southern California.
“It’s not just San Diego people. We have people coming from L.A. saying, ‘Oh my God, this is great. We don’t have to deal with the (L.A.) traffic,’” Cassarino said.
“I think we have something that we can offer young producers that have limited budgets, a place that they can call home,” he added. “People can come down here and shoot a film the way they want to shoot it. We’ve got lights, we’ve got action, even a place to stay.”
Hidden Oaks Ranch and Studio
Founder/owner: David Biber
Employees: 1 (others added by contract as needed)
Notable: The ranch was once was used to train Tennessee Walking Horses.