For the second year in a row, the Oscar for Best Picture went yesterday to the only nominee filmed primarily in Los Angeles (TAKE NOTE, FILMMAKERS). Argo, which is based on the true story of the CIA-Canadian operation to smuggle US foreign service workers out of Iran during the 1979 revolution and hostage crisis, filmed in SoCal for 10 weeks and shot both LA-for-LA and LA-for-Tehran; they also filmed a few weeks in Turkey and DC. (Last year's Best Picture winner The Artist filmed LA-for-Old-Hollywood.) For obvious reasons, Argo couldn't shoot in Iran (and in fact the country is making its own film in response); instead it relied on clever location manager Chris Baugh, production designer Sharon Seymour, and hundreds of local Iranian-American extras, plus a handy $6.4-million tax credit from the state of California. The whole thing is pretty pleasingly recursive, since in the film (and real life) the diplomats posed as a film crew on a location scout for a Sci-Fi movie. Check out the map below to see how movie magic turned modern-day Los Angeles into late-'70s Tehran.Read More
The Argo Guide to Filming Los Angeles as 1979 Tehran
1. US embassy
Los Angeles, CA 91343
One of the buildings at the Sepulveda VA in North Hills "turned out to be remarkably similar to the U.S. embassy in Tehran," according to the LA Times. The scenes with the protesters outside the gates were filmed in Turkey.
2. Canadian ambassador's house
Los Angeles, CA 90020
The Canadian ambassador's house, where the six diplomats have been sequestered for months, was actually in Hancock Park. The house was way more hideous when it was on the market back in 2009.
3. Tehran airport
Ontario, CA 91761
An unused terminal at LA/Ontario International Airport was dressed up with Farsi signs, giant Ayatollah Khomeini posters, and period cars (and CGI mountains in the background) to become Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport.
4. CIA headquarters
Los Angeles, CA 90012
The LA Times building played CIA headquarters; the production also filmed the real HQ in Langley, Virginia.
5. The Burbank Studios
Burbank, CA 91505
The Warners Brothers lot sort of played itself--it was known as the Burbank Studios back then and its water tower was amended with the old name.
6. The SmokeHouse
Burbank, CA 91505
Ben Affleck's CIA agent meets with Hollywood makeup guy John Goodman at The SmokeHouse Restaurant, which plays itself.
7. Lester Siegel's house
Los Angeles, CA 90077
Zsa Zsa Gabor's house in Bel Air played the home of Alan Arkin's producer character. In real life, the house has been on the market for ages but has just recently gone "sale pending."
8. Mendez house
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Ben Affleck's CIA agent character was estranged from his wife--she and his son lived in a house in Maryland played by a house in Eagle Rock. The set designer "relied on the a Sears catalog" to dress the place, according to Eagle Rock Patch.
9. The Beverly Hilton
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Affleck, Goodman, and Arkin hold an intentionally high-profile press event for their fake film Argo at where else? The Beverly Hilton.