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Filming Locations: Drive

So I picked up a movie rental called Drive from the local Blockbuster kiosk. I had no idea what it was about and only picked it because of the various references to automobiles which is a hobby of mine. After watching the movie and recognizing some SFV sites and then confirmed with a search online, there were several spots in the SFV used for this film.

The main character who has no name but is known as the "Driver" played by Ryan Gosling mentions that he works at a mechanic shop on Reseda.  That mechanic shop is the old Neill Lehr Cadillac Dealership which was changed to Rydell Cadillac which is now the Picture Car Warehouse at 8400 Reseda Blvd. So in the movie when Ryan Gosling says, "he works on Reseda," he literally meant Reseda in the San Fernando Valley. Typically movies are filmed in the Valley but not mentioned or a part of the plot. So this movie as you can imagine, got me really excited. The Picture Car Warehouse as the name suggests is extensively used by the movie industry for all vehicle needs. You can read an article at the LA TimesAutoweek, and the company website. Here is a quote from movie director Nicholas Winding Refn regarding the selection of the mechanics shop followed by images:
It really came by chance; I was out there looking at some of the picture cars that we could use in the movie, and I just loved the location," shares Refn. "I said, 'This is where we're shooting the mechanic's! This is going to be Shannon's place.' And there was just one rule to the production team: Do not move a single thing. It was completely, leave it as it is. The only thing I did was I had the production designer paint the wall blue instead of green, because it stood out more in contrast. I'm color-blind, so everything has to be very contrasted for me to see.

Recognize the variety of cars in the background. These are owned by Picture Car Warehouse  that are used for films.  I dont think any regular mechanic shop would be working on a taxicab, police car, ambulance, armored vehicle, 1950's car, and an early 1900's car. 
Image courtesy Google Maps

Image courtesy Facebook Television Motion Picture Car Club
Image courtesy Film O Filia
Another San Fernando Valley filming spot is Nino's Pizzeria which is owned by the gangsta's in this movie that is used as a front for their operations. This site is located in Granada Hills which is Vincenzo's Pizza at 11045 Balboa Blvd. Below are the director's comments regarding this site followed by images:
[This scene] was shot in the valley, and it was difficult to find because I wanted a real 'New York' kind of pizza shop, where you walk in from the street to get a slice. But also a place that basically looks like a front for something else,” said Refn. “Most of the places in L.A. were more like restaurant-oriented, where being a New Yorker you're used to just walking in and getting a slice. I wanted that feel more, because Nino (Ron Perlman) is, you know, a Jewish man who wants to be an Italian gangster. That's why Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) calls him Izzie; that's his real name. It was 100 percent [practical]. I like to find practical locations because it helps the actors a lot, to recreate everything.

The film also shoots in the LA River (like so many other films) at Reseda and Victory and ends up in Encino where the LA River becomes a real river. Below are the director's comments for this site followed with images:
I was trying to figure out what kind of places [Driver] would take Irene and Benicio, and Ryan told me that the L.A. River was an interesting arena. So we went there, and then he told me about the oasis of green. I found one, and it was perfect.He knows L.A. extremely well.

I am not sure what overpass is shown but either  White Oak Ave,  Lindley Ave, or Reseda Blvd.
This is where the concrete ends for the LA River near Balboa Park. The overpass shown is for the Orange Line Busway
Somewhere in the LA River that actually looks like a river. 
You can see the Encino Velodrome (talked about on this site) and Little League baseball fields that I played at growing up in the background. Image courtesy Google Maps

There is also the Pink Motel at 9457 San Fernando Road Sun Valley although interior shots were only used.  Check out the Pink Motel site for more info. Below are the director's comments regarding this site followed by images:
The motel was hard, because so much action goes on. It was called the Pink Motel, which has been used in a lot of movies. But I really liked the motel rooms, so I decided not to do any exterior shots so nobody could know where we were actually shooting. It's a very classic old hotel, it looks like something from the '50s or '60s. The day we shot there, which was the first time we shot anything, was the hottest day in L.A., so it was pretty unbearable. I was told afterwards [that the Valley is hot], nobody told me about it!

Image courtesy Google Maps
Lastly the Great Wall Restaurant was used in the final scene which is at 18331 Sherman Way Reseda. Below are the director's comments regarding this site followed by images:
In the Valley. I wanted a New York-style Chinese restaurant, which is hard to find in L.A., especially in that area. But I was lucky. I liked the whole red velvet walls, the authentic Chinese artifacts. Once I saw it I was like, 'This is it -- we're shooting here.' It was completely functional. We had lunch there; it was very greasy, so you knew you were in China. [Laughs]

Image courtesy Google Maps
This would not be possible without the articles published on the internet. So I highly recommend visiting which was published on January 31, 2012 for a thorough review of the filming locations, LA Times The Envelope blog on September 21, 2011, and published on August 31, 2011.

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Marty Mcfly

Anything and everything about the San Fernando Valley. This blog will take you back in time when the valley was covered with dirt and orange groves to a leader in the space race to its current status as America's suburb. Come along and join me on this adventure, I guarantee you have been influenced/impacted by the San Fernando Valley in one form or another even if you have never visited or heard of the SFV.

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