Last year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, “The Artist”, won the hearts of many Academy voters for its unique silent film format, and made many locals proud for its extensive use of beautiful Hancock Park locations. It was the Wilshire Ebell, Fremont Place and Oakwood Ave. north of Larchmont that were portrayed in full black and white, 1920s glory.
Could the Oscars pay homage to Hancock Park again this year with “Argo”? The Ben Affleck-helmed story set in 1979 Iran and Hollywood, used so many Los Angeles locations it was recently awarded the “Made in Hollywood” award, just as “The Artist” did last year.
“Argo” filmed 11 out of 15 weeks in the LA area, which included using a Hancock Park residence for the Canadian Embassy portrayed in the film, and Ontario Airport for the 1970’s Tehran airport. Filmed in the summer of 2011, “Argo” utilized $6.4 million in California tax credits for the $44 million production. Councilman Tom La Bonge, captured by KABC-TV in a news clip below, notes “… Someone has to make a committment, and Warner Brothers made that commitment.” on this film, helping employ hundreds of local technicians and artisans and deterring yet more runaway film production.
Ben Affleck was said to have ensconced his actors in the Hancock Park residence of Grace Verzosa Ambat for several weeks during the shooting, giving them the feeling of being held hostage to a location, just as the American hostages were stuck in the Canadian Embassy back in 1979. The Wall Street Journal included the Ambat experience in an article yesterday that shares how the production team found her, and how much she was paid for “Argot” taking over her home.
If the “Made in Hollywood” award is any precursor, perhaps “Argo” will follow in the footsteps of “The Artist” and nab the top Oscar award for Best Picture this year, giving another fine Hancock Park location its due on the silver screen.
Wall Street Journal: Starring Your Den
LA Times: LA Play Tehran
Larchmont Buzz: Hancock Park Locations Featured in The Artist