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City of Angels

1998 | Director: Brad Silberling |

There were so many interesting things about this film. First, looking at Los Angeles from above. John Seale and I helicoptered from the sea to the mountains, looking for patterns and shapes, perches for the angels. We chose the old terminal post office as our hospital. It’s beautiful from above and amazing from the ground, as well. We then built the hospital sets all built inside it.

During my research I met cardiologist surgeon, Dr. Robin Cohen. I called him to ask for advice on how to learn about open heart surgery and he invited me to come and observe one. It is something I will never forget. The beauty and the horror combined with a sense of both seriousness and joy. One of his surgical nurses was on set during the filming to make sure everything was done correctly

Meg learned how to stitch so beautifully, and we would watch her fingers fly.

Of course working again with John Seale made everything better, as well. Meg’s house was built on set and he created the most amazing thunderstorm with lightening strikes and pelting rain.

We built one of the sets on top of a sixty story building because I wanted the real effect of the height, not a cg background with a wind machine. Nobody wanted us to do this – have a film crew on the top of a building at night, but fortunately the director supported me entirely. It was so beautiful and heavenly above the city, though it did turn out that some of the actors were afraid of heights.

Brad’s vision of heaven and earth was so gentle it made this a great film to work on. I have to say that The City of Angels looked so vibrant and alive thanks to John’s gorgeous photography. Ultimately, it always comes down to that. No matter what you built it is the camera seeing it that makes is work.