Inside The Look

"At the end of the day it's order that counts. Why sweat the details? Gotta break some eggs to make an omelet."

Captain Biggs

Growing up in Los Angeles left an indelible mark on director David Ayer. To Ayer, who grew up on the streets of South Central, his Los Angeles is not one generally seen on the silver screen. More often than not, the under-privileged areas of LA are depicted as gang-infested streets teeming with drugs and drive-bys.

"My Los Angeles is a living world composed of vibrant neighborhoods full of life," explains David Ayer. "It's not just gang bangers flexing, it's families and kids and moms. It's a very rich world and I think it's something I'll always want to revisit. It's my city."

"We worked very hard to honor David's view that Los Angeles is a colorful place with life teeming all around it," says Production Designer Alec Hammond. "Horrible things don't happen in isolated areas, there are horrible things that happen right next to families with kids and ice cream trucks. We were very aware of the notion that evil things come to us during everyday life in everyday places."

Filming took place over forty-one days, many of which took place at night on practical locations. The filmmakers were dedicated to honoring the locations as they are written in the script, which meant shooting in some of the grittier neighborhoods in and around Downtown Los Angeles that are not usually used.

"We really tried to give the film authenticity in every regard and it's been quite a challenge," explains Foster. "All the various elements like the types of vehicles, props, wardrobe, set dressing, locations and how we enter a neighborhood and conduct ourselves, all contribute to make the film feel more real."

While not necessarily the best financial option for the production, shooting in the practical locations within Los Angeles was paramount to director David Ayer, who felt it was worth the extra expenditure. "I feel blessed to shoot in LA. So many productions leave the state and country in the name of the dollar because there's a premium you pay, but in my mind, the money you spend is just like the premium you pay a good actor. We are essentially paying the city to be a character in the film."

"Truth of the matter is that we've shot this movie in some of the most desperately poor and under-privileged areas of Los Angeles and the graciousness with which we were welcomed was just astounding," remarks Erwin Stoff. "The people couldn't have been more welcoming and wherever we were it became a block party. It was one of the great surprises shooting this movie."

Ayer and Production Designer Alec Hammond worked diligently to research every aspect of the locations down to the cop issued staplers to create the world of STREET KINGS. Hammond went to great pains to differentiate the looks of the different hierarchies within the LAPD. The smallest of details went into distinguishing the differences of the various factions like the Police Commissioner offices that houses the elite faction of robbery homicide and those who cover narcotics, gang work and special affairs to the offices of Internal Affairs. Captains versus the rank and file offices of Ad Vice.

"The Police Commission headquarters is public view bureaucracy where all the desks are the same because it's a room for public consumption. The other rooms and areas are defined by the characters who inhabit them and what happens to them," explains Hammond.

"Active duty LAPD cops have come through the sets and they are absolutely blown away. It's everything from the evidence tags to the core value posters that really sell the reality of the police environment."

A true reflection of the city of Los Angeles, the set was bi-lingual with many key members of the crew using both English and Spanish. Fluent in Spanish from growing up surrounded by Spanish-speaking people, Ayer unmistakably creates an environment on the set that mirrors the cultural landscape of Los Angeles.

"I've never been on a set that's been truly and genuinely bilingual," argues Stoff. "Spanish is spoken as much as English is and in that sense it truly feels like a reflection of the city we are shooting in. I'm glad I paid attention to high school and college Spanish."

Those involved in the film knew they were in good hands under the direction of Ayer. Hugh Laurie comments that, "Every actor places himself in the hands of a director and hopes for the best and in this case, David is an endlessly fascinating, intelligent and thoughtful person. It's a great privilege to be steered by him because he has a very clear idea of how this world he's created really operates."

"When I first came on board this project I was very intimidated to be entrusted with the time and careers of so many wonderful actors who have put their absolute trust in me," says Ayer. "It's been a great challenge but everyone has pulled their weight and beyond and I feel honored to have godfathered this process through. I feel a great sense of pride."

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