Location #9:

Sebastian's Apartment


Q.  Where is it supposed to be?
 
0:18:13:
We first see his apartment (interior only)  during this flashback scene, when his sister, 'Laura' , visits him there to nag him about getting his life together, to disparage his obsession with jazz, and to try to set him up on a blind date.  A lot of bickering ensues...




The purpose of the scene seems to be to let us know that he isn't making much progress (so far) towards fulfilling his dream of opening his own jazz club, and that he's living in a modest, (some might say shabby) apartment, but that he is stubbornly committed to his goal.

Here's a YouTube video of part of that apartment scene:



We see the interior of his apartment once again at 1:08:29, when Mia
 comes over and They sing a duet (at the piano) of "City of Stars".



In one last night-time scene (at 1:16:29), we see Mia arrive at Seb's apartment, where she is surprised to find that he is not only back, but he has prepared a meal for her.

Unfortunately, a heated argument follows that strains their relationship.


We mostly see the
interior of Sebastian's apartment,
so it's hard to tell where it is supposed to be.

But just before that last scene. we see Mia walk through a neon-lit Chinatown,
 on her way to his apartment. So, I have to assume that, in the movie,
  Sebastian's apartment  is supposed  to be in L.A.'
s Chinatown  (or very close to it).


 ( But, of course, in real life it's not even close. )




Q.  Where was it really shot? 

This was a tricky one.

This turned out to be filmed at the
Willis Avenue Apartments,
at 8404 Willis Ave, in Panorama City
, in the San Fernando Valley.



That's about eight miles northwest of the Lipton's and about a twenty mile drive from Chinatown (which is on the other side of the hill, next to downtown L.A.)

Here is a StreetView of the front of the apartment house:





But it took a lot of work to establish, with certainty, that those were the right apartments.

Although I knew that they were supposed to have filmed a scene at this apartment house, that wasn't sufficient.  I needed to prove to myself that it was indeed the right  location. 

At first, I thought that might be impossible, since I remembered all of his apartment scenes being interiors only.  And it's hard to match a location when you can't see the exterior.


But fortunately, as I re-watched the movie, I realized there
was one scene where we did indeed catch a glimpse of the outside of his apartment building. 

It was when Mia leaves a restaurant in Chinatown and walks a short distance to an apartment house, where she walks past a flight of steps to Sebastian's room.


Here's a screencap from
1:17:02:



As you can see, it's a night scene, so it's dark and it's hard to see anything.

But that has never stopped me before...


I got out Photoshop and lightened the image so I could see the details
:



Taking a close look, I could identify several notable features:

Along the
handrails on the side of the staircase, there is an unusual cross-hatch lattice-work, which almost looks like a common garden trellis.

There is some kind of
redwood boarding behind her, consisting of two boards which form a right-angle corner, and that surrounds the base of a palm tree and some plants.

Knowing those details, it was then a matter of tracking down a matching photo.


And fortunately, the apartment house in question has a
website which
 includes a number of photos of the apartment house grounds.

This is one of those photos:




As you can see, it's a near-perfect match.  The lattice-work on the stairway.  The two redwood boards forming a corner (which turns out to be a bench of sorts). And that palm tree.

Take another look and you'll see the similarities:




I managed to do a better job lightening another shot from that same scene:

You can see the same patio area below her as she climbs the stairs, but this time we get a better, closer look at the lattice-work on the stairways.

Here is another photo from the apartment website, showing similar lattice-work
at the top of the stairway too:




Also notice that it reveals the doors on the ground floor are brown wood,
which matches what we see of Sebastian's door at night:




So, that is more than enough proof for me.

Sebastian's shabby apartment scenes were definitely shot at the

Willis Avenue Apartments
, at 8404 Willis Ave, in Panorama City.

( and Mia would have been in for a looong walk from Chinatown... )



 


Here is a link to a Google Earth 3-D view
of the apartment house.


    

Move on to the next movie location seen in "La La Land".

    

"La La Land" and its images are copyright Summit Entertainment
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