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Shooting "Zodiac"

"The old Chronicle newsroom was a city-block long. Everything was authentic – the light fixtures, old typewriters, the molding, the U-shaped copy desk. Everything worked – old phones, drinking fountains, elevators and pneumatic mail tube stations. The desk drawers were even stocked with Chronicle notepads and Eagle pencils. Yet who would know the difference all these years later if those details were wrong? David Fincher would.” - Author Robert Graysmith.

The look of "Zodiac” had a singular mandate – restraint.

Although it is a period film, several periods in fact, "I didn't want pastiche or early `70s kitsch. Not Starsky and Hutch, not so much harvest gold and avocado appliances or homage to Peter Max,” says Fincher. "But I wanted it to be true and that meant, surroundings informed by older siblings, a world that would reflect their parents' time as well in terms of the houses they grew up in. Things carried down over generations most of us have. You can see that certainly in Robert's bachelor pad. I suppose there could have been more VW bugs but I think what we show is a pretty good representation of the time. It is not technically perfect. There are some flaws but some are intended. You will definitely know it from the music.”

Fischer said five weeks of the film's production was shot in the Bay area, the rest in Los Angeles. He credits Producer Ceán Chaffin with a smooth run. "Ceán managed an incredibly complex, 100 day-plus production between the Bay area and Los Angeles and brought it in under budget. She's one of the best line producers in the business,” Fischer says. "She's able to strike that fine balance of getting the director what he wants while managing the financial needs of the picture, and all the while maintaining the respect and admiration of the crew.”

In Los Angeles, the San Francisco Chronicle was built in the old Post Office in the Terminal Annex Building downtown. A building on Spring Street subbed for the Hall of Justice and SFPD. Since the Blue Rock Springs golf course is completely different today than it was in 1969, other sites outside of L.A. were used. Vallejo has also changed dramatically so some of the scenes were shot in Downey to simulate it. In the Bay area, the production filmed for five weeks.

Production Designer Donald Graham Burt says one of the costliest sets on location was Lake Berryessa where Shepherd and Hartnell were attacked. "When we got there, there was a little spit of land like a little peninsula that jutted out into the water. The oak trees the killer hid behind were gone. We had to helicopter in two huge oaks trees. We drilled holes in a piece of the land and hauled in some water so they wouldn't die. We set them up for 3 or 4 days before filming knowing they would only have a few days,” Burt says. "We really reconstructed that from photographs taken of the site during the day.”

Fischer says the trees were critical to the story, "because the Zodiac hid behind those oaks and Cecilia saw him there. They were some kind of protected California oak! It was an expensive prop.”

As for wardrobe, Graysmith provided Costume Designer Casey Storm with photographs from the ‘60s and ‘70s, "probably taken by the paper's staff photographer. Because a lot of the people in this story are still alive it was very important to make them feel comfortable with how we portrayed them then. Actually, I've never done a film with so many real life individuals. With the look overall we tried to keep it real because it is about reporters and cops and they aren't necessarily known for being overly stylistic.” 

Storm says he used police photos of the murdered victims' clothing. "We duplicated the exact garment Darlene Ferrin wore, a blue tank top jumpsuit. We scanned the image and made the fabric from scratch,” Storm says. "There's something a little morbid about it but at


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