Support for LAist comes from
Made of L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Arts and Entertainment

That 'La La Land' Scene Filmed On Angels Flight Wasn't Exactly Allowed

Our June member drive is live: protect this resource!
Right now, we need your help during our short June member drive to keep the local news you read here every day going. This has been a challenging year, but with your help, we can get one step closer to closing our budget gap. Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership.

Being touted as a love letter for Los Angeles, La La Land was shot all over the city, including on the currently-defunct Angels Flight. The orange-hued old funicular, located in Downtown L.A., was practically made for the big screen, and it's still as whimsical as it was functional. While they aren't currently running, the cars (named Sinai and Olivet) continue to sit pretty between Hill and South Olive streets.

The 115-year-old funicular hasn't been functioning since 2013, when it was closed for safety reasons following a series of incidents and derailments (the most serious of which was a fatal accident in 2001). So how, then, did director Damien Chazelle get Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone on a moving funicular car? Downtown News reports it wasn't exactly legal.

The California Public Utilities Commission, the state regulatory agency that oversees Angels Flight, confirmed to Los Angeles Downtown News that it has notified the Angels Flight Railway Foundation that usage of the funicular by anyone other than its employees is prohibited. The CPUC was not aware of the La La Land shoot before being contacted by Downtown News, according to a representative. “The Foundation has assured staff that they understand that no more use of any kind is allowed except for the work to bring the system back in service,” a CPUC representative wrote in an email.

Support for LAist comes from

This video shows Angels Flight back when it was in action

Hal Bastian, president of the AFRF, told them that: “We knew Angels Flight was not allowed to operate for the public. We did not think it would be an issue with a film crew, because that is not the public."

It's unclear how much money changed hands for the location shoot (Bastian woudn't specify beyond “several thousands of dollars"), but AFRF is in need of money. They've had to continue to pay insurance premiums for the site despite the funicular's closure, and they're actively trying to raise money "to pay for the initial design and engineering study" for an evacuation walkway, which would be necessary for Angels Flight to reopen. And Bastian insists it WILL still open.

In an interview about the film, Gosling said: "This was an opportunity to show an L.A. that's still there... you've got to squint your eyes a little, but there are still places in L.A. that are still part of the Golden Years of Los Angeles and Hollywood in its heyday. I lived around the corner for a long time from Angels Flight, although I never got to ride Angels Flight because it had been shut down. Those places are still there... these gems, and we were able to shoot them one by one."

You can see a little bit of the Angels Flight shoot in this trailer, which shows the two stars off of the car and at the S. Olive Street entrance.

You can donate to Angels Flight via their website.

Most Read