mid-January Gus Van Sant began shooting his biopic about America's first
openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk, a San Francisco supervisor who was
assassinated in 1978 along with Mayor George Moscone by recently resigned
San Francisco Supervisor Dan White. Sean Penn is playing Milk, and Josh
Brolin plays White in the Focus Features/Groundswell production
operated a camera store on Castro Street and was known as the Mayor of
Castro Street, a roughly two-block shopping district in the San Francisco
neighborhood of the same name. The production has taken over the area,
turning back the clock to represent the years of the 1970s, when the Castro
shifted from being a hippie hangout to a gay mecca. The production has
meticulously re-created signs from the area, and even the garbage cans are
from the time period.
production hunkered down in San Francisco's Gay and Lesbian Archives and
talked to plenty of people from Milk's world. They even hired a former
employee from Milk's camera store, Daniel Nicoletta, as a consultant; he not
only worked with Milk but also took "tons" of photographs of the activist
and the neighborhood.
In the coming
weeks, the shoot will move to City Hall, where current Mayor Gavin Newsom
invited the production to shoot in the exact location where Moscone (played
by Victor Garber) was shot. White's office, where Milk was shot, will be
re-created in another locale because the original offices have changed over
time. The new location still will have a view of the San Francisco Opera
House, replicating the view that Milk, an opera fan, enjoyed before he died.