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The King of South Central: How “End of Watch” Keeps It Real
With End of Watch, the cop drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, writer-director David Ayer solidifies his reputation as a filmmaker who knows—and shows—the LAPD like no other. He also has a knack for revealing the underbelly of Los Angeles. With help from movie location manager (and man-around-South L.A.) Earl West, who also worked with Ayer on Training Day, Harsh Times, and Street Kings, we map some of the real-life homes, buildings, and public spaces featured in the film:
- A.) A climactic scene involving the cartel takes place at this South L.A. apartment complex. “This just says ‘inner-city apartment,’” notes West (pictured above). “This area is no breeze.”
- B.) Officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) kick the door in at this house, which West selected because it is so unwelcoming. “This,” says West, “is a crack house.”
- C.) West selected this house as the location for a scene in which the cartel is harboring immigrants. “If you look at it,” explains West, “it doesn’t look like anything is off. It’s a generic house.”
- D.) This empty lot just up the street from Pueblo Gardens is where officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) discover a burned-out car. It was a great location for filming because access was available to a nearby roof, there’s plenty of street parking, and “it looks so, so desolate,” says West.
- E.) Access to a nearby roof and adjacent yards made filming “the killing scene” in this alley easy. “I know everyone in this alley,” says West. “We shot Street Kings here, too.”
- F.) West refers to this location as “the Welfare House.” The production shot here for one or two days.
- G.) In the movie this house, set apart from others on Woodlawn Avenue, goes up in flames.
- H.) This is “Big Evil’s House,” where the villain (Maurice Compte) throws a house party complete with girls dancing on the roof and a custom throne.
ALSO: Read “The Cop Whisperer,” writer-at-large Ed Leibowitz’s October profile of filmmaker David Ayer, who grew up in West Adams and now works in Silver Lake.