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Screenwriter Explains '500 Days' Focus on Architecture, Downtown LA

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After last week's reader email about the film "500 Days of Summer" focus on a "failed architect" and downtown's buildings, we checked in with co-writer Scott Neustadter to ask: Why architecture? Why downtown LA? In an email, Scott responds: "First off, the character isn't exactly a failed architect. He's an aspiring one who never really committed to it and instead finds himself as a copywriter for greeting cards. It's kind of the polar opposite job than the one he wants. ("why make something temporary like a building when you can make something that lasts forever like a greeting card?")

Why architecture? Hard to say where that came from. mainly because I always thought it was one of, if not the, highest form of art there is. I've always been fascinated by it and, because the character is pretty much based on myself, we just ran with it. Also because of the above dichotomy between greeting cards, which are so ephemeral and innocuous compared to something like a house or whatever.

Why LA? Initially it was SF but that was too expensive. Then it was Anytown USA (which would have been shot in Canada probably) and none of us were that enthusiastic about that. When we heard we could shoot in LA, the director and Joe Gordon Levitt and myself did a walking tour and spent a lot of time really taking in downtown. And we loved it. [Director Marc] Webb had shot some videos down there and Joe grew up in the area so they knew more than I did. And Webb had a good sense of what he wanted to do from the start. The script was then rewritten to reflect the places we were going to film. For example the end takes place in the Bradbury Building which was such an awesome place to shoot for a day. It was great and really speaks to the character and what he goes through. Also, Marc had a specific aesthetic he wanted (I don't think there's anything in there that's post 1950 if not earlier).

The other reason it made sense is that the character Tom, his thing is that he sees beauty in places most people don't even bother to look. So downtown LA just seemed like a perfect fit in a way. So few people pay it any attention and there's a ton of history and stuff that's pretty beautiful and fascinating. We were very conscious not to do the 'Entourage' LA but to show it in a way other movies and tv shows rarely do." [Photo of Bradbury Building from Wikipedia]
· Failed Architect + LA=Movie Magic [Curbed LA]