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Los Angeles, California

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Southland Tales-Filming in LA sidebar

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“I go out of town every couple of years to do a movie, but I really love working in Los Angeles,” says location scout Ralph Meyer. “I keep a long wish-list of places in the city I’d like to get on the screen.”Some of those wishes were realized recently, as Meyer masterfully marshaled his extensive knowledge of the sprawling city’s unique spaces and interiors to come up with over 15 locations that were used for the rapid fire 30-day shoot of aptly named Southland Tales.“We tried to combine things so we could work on such an abbreviated schedule,” he noted. A loft in downtown LA did double duty as a neo-Marxist compound and as the apartment of one of the lead characters. The downtown crossing at 4th and Hill was used for a car crash sequence and a homeless encampment.The sci-fi satire takes place in 2008, so Meyer found some edgy “future is now” spaces like the computer room of the Unocal building, interiors in the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, and a virtuoso high-tech Beverly Hills office building that was built at the behest of the now defunct Dreamworks Records.Oceanfront areas were numerous, from the Santa Monica pier to the Dive Bar in Hermosa Beach that was closed down for shooting for a day, the first time it shuttered since John F. Kennedy was assassinated. And three days of filming occurred in and around the Venice boardwalk, with Meyer pulling off an almost unheard of Saturday shutdown. A supermodern house in Manhattan Beach, owned by a top television anchor, was another score. The marathon finale was two days in the transformed banquet room of the Skirball Cultural Center, perched off the 405 freeway close to the Getty Museum.Meyer starts his work on a film by reading the script and going over it with the director and the rest of his staff, before the search starts. Beyond finding the sites with the right stuff, as location manager “I’m responsible for negotiating the deals for each location, and dealing with logistics down to minutiae like parking spaces for the trucks and trailers.”Meyer went to UCLA film school, then earned his spurs as a production assistant on such films as Beetlejuice and the remake of The Blob. He was location manager for Jersey Girl, and Masked and Anonymous, penned by and starring Bob Dylan. Meyer recently completed Art School Confidential for director Terry Swigoff, who did Bad Santa.

Written by Jack Egan

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