Earlier this month Ben Affleck’s Argo was nominated for 5 Golden Globe awards and it’s expected to be a frontrunner for an Oscar too, but what really sets the movie apart is the way Affleck was able to transform several southern California locations into Iran for the movie.
Set in 1979, Argo tells the true story of a CIA agent who posed as a moviemaker scouting locations in Iran as he set out to rescue several U.S. diplomats.
Affleck shot most of the movie in California, though two weeks were spent in Istanbul, doubling for Tehran, as well.
The airport in Ontario, California, near Los Angeles, was used as the Tehran Airport. The airport has an unused terminal building that predates Argo’s time period and therefore was a perfect fit for the film. The Ontario Airport has been featured in several TV shows and films in recent years, including Hangover 2.
Chris Baugh, the project’s Location Manager explained how they recreated the Embassy in both Istanbul and Los Angeles. “For the opening sequence in which the American Embassy is stormed, we shot the neighborhood street outside the embassy walls in Istanbul. But, once we’re over the wall the sequence was entirely shot at a closed section of a Veterans Hospital in the San Fernando Valley, California. For the wide shots, including action on the rooftops, computer-generated mountains were added in the background.”
Baugh and Location Scout Lori Balton were also able to find Asian-style buildings in the L.A. area to help recreate the feel of Iran. Government buildings designed by Ides van der Gracht, the same architect responsible for the Tehran embassy itself, were used, along with a house now owned by Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Baugh was honored for his work on Argo at California on Location Awards in October.