17 March 2024

Los Angeles CA, USA

It is not often that a film location is mentioned in the title, as is the case with LA LA LAND; Los Angeles is often abbreviated to LA. The entire film was shot in the Los Angeles County. The 'la la' in the title is also a reference to music, the film is full of songs.

La La Land, 0:36:09
The story follows the lives of Mia Dolan (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress working as a waitress, and Sebastian Wilder (Ryan Gosling), a jazz pianist. After a few encounters, they fall in love. This is the third film to star both Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, following Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) and Gangster Squad (2013). Filming began on 10 August 2015. There were reportedly only 40 days of shooting which is noteworthy because the movie was filmed on more than 50 locations. 

Preparing our trip to Los Angeles, I had not actually chosen La La Land for this blog but it just so happened that we visited four places where this film was shot.

When Mia wants to drive home after a party, her car has been towed away. She decides to walk. On her way home, she passes the mural "You are the star" on Wilcox Avenue, on the corner with Hollywood Boulevard. Thomas Suriya, not a professional artist, created the painting in 1983 at the request of a friend. He portrayed 71 movie stars sitting in a movie theater. They are looking at the screen, or rather at the viewer who now is the star. Some actors are depicted as a film character, among them James Dean as Jim Stark in Rebel without a Cause. Later in the film, Mia and Sebastian go to a screening of this film classic. Over the years, the mural has suffered weathering, graffiti and damages. Thomas Suriya restored his mural himself in 2007. Unfortunately, it is now in dire need again, "You are the star" is in poor condition.

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"You are the star", Wilcox Avenue, Los Angeles, 20 July 2023
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"You are the star", Wilcox Avenue, Los Angeles, 20 July 2023
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"You are the star", Wilcox Avenue, Los Angeles, 20 July 2023
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"You are the star", Wilcox Avenue, Los Angeles, 20 July 2023

Mia works at the coffee shop Sur Le Lot on the backlot of the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank (Los Angeles County). In reality, this is French Street, and the building is part of the permanent film set. It is used over and over again, for example by changing its colour.

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French Street, Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank, 20 July 2023

When Sebastian stops by, they take a walk along the sets and sound stages. Mia points out the window where Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart look out from in the film Casablanca. The window with the shutters that is shown is not the right one, from what we were told it is the window on the far right.

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French Street, Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank, 20 July 2023

As they continue walking, they pass Stage 17 and Stage 19, among others.
Warner Bros. Studios can be visited during a Studio Tour. A guide drives you in a group of about 10 people around the studio backlot with occasional stops. Absolutely worth it!

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Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank, 20 July 2023

After watching the film Rebel without a Cause, Mia and Sebastian visit the Griffith Observatory, not coincidentally a location from this movie. This observatory and planetarium stands on Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. The building was opened on 14 May 1935 and is named after Griffith J. Griffith who donated land and money to build the observatory. In his will, the colonel stipulated that admission should always be free and this is still the case. As the photos show, it was much busier than in the film during our visit.

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Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, 21 July 2023
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Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, 21 July 2023
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Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, 21 July 2023

In a scene lasting less than 10 seconds, Laura (Rosemarie DeWitt), Sebastian's sister, shows off her engagement ring. The man next to her is her fiancé Harry (Damon Gupton). The pond they are standing in front of is in Will Rogers Memorial Park, located in Beverly Hills at 9650 Sunset Boulevard. The park was opened in 1913. In 1952, it was named after entertainer Will Rogers (1879-1935), the first honorary mayor of Beverly Hills.

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Will Rogers Memorial Park, Los Angeles, 18 July 2023

A comprehensive list of all locations from the film can be found on the website Seeing Stars.

Screenshots © Summit Entertainment