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Production in Los Angeles might be down from its peak in 1997, but one type of movie — the period L.A. story — is enjoying a resurgence that is leading filmmakers to rediscover the city’s streets.
The Artist, filmed in L.A., swept the Oscars in February. Hitchcock, Fox Searchlight’s feature about Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho, recently shot at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. And Warner Bros.’ Gangster Squad, a 1950s-set crime thriller starring Josh Brolin, Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling, shot throughout the city in 2011.
Gangster director Ruben Fleischer took his cameras to Los Angeles’ historic City Hall, shot for a week at the Park Plaza Hotel near MacArthur Park, lensed in Bellflower and spent a lot of time in Hollywood, which became a Tommy Gun-blazing backlot.
The movie, set for release Sept. 7, parked for three days in front of Boardner’s, a classic Hollywood watering hole that dates to 1942. And it occupied several blocks around Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in December.
The production worked with FilmL.A. and the city to remove dozens of parking meters and lay fake cement blocks over the Hollywood Walk of Fame because neither existed during that period. It swapped out modern street signs and lights for historically accurate ones, dressing the whole area in period Christmas decorations. Greenscreens were put in front of buildings that did not belong to the period so more historically correct edifices could be added in postproduction.
“Everyone is aware that filming in L.A. has been minimized. This was an opportunity to make it shine and to show L.A. in a positive light,” says Gangster location manager Robin Citrin, who praised the city’s cooperation in facilitating the shoot.
Hollywood residents better get used to the rat-a-tat of tommy guns. Frank Darabont recently wrapped his pilot L.A. Noir, which tackles a similar subject and is expected to be greenlighted to series by HBO.
Gangsters, it turns out, are just what Los Angeles film production needed.
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