How Modern City Streets Transformed To Look Old In Movies What you need to maske an old movie

YouTube channel Insider published a new video looking at the behind-the-scenes of movie production and this time around they look at a very specific topic – how a modern city street is transformed into an old look in movies.

Making Old Movies

Today we are taking a small break from the technical camera world to look at an interesting aspect of film production – the behind-the-scenes of old city movies and how these are created.

Oscar-nominated set decorator Rena DeAngelo has been on the set of numerous movies including the recent version of “West Side Story” and Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch”. Both these motion pictures are set around the time period of the 50s and 60s and need to look accurate while filmed in a modern-day city.

This might sound simple enough but the number of changes and details that need to be taken into account is mind-boggling. Besides the obvious things such as using old cars and time-appropriate costumes there are much more complex and subtle changes that a set decorator needs to take into account.

Taking down any sign of modern society is essential – security cameras, cellular antennas, and street lights either directly by removing them or using cleverly placed time-relevant objects such as kiosks or newsstands can help hide those modern marks.

But this gets much more detailed than that. Signage is an important aspect of different time periods and there is a clear difference between the Signage in NY between the ’30s and 60s, both in the type of signs, materials, and typography and even the fonts.

Finally, you have stores and their merchandise. Mannequins from different time periods look different, and the shelves and boxes need to reflect the time period.

All this requires a great deal of historical knowledge but also a way of acquiring or recreating all these historic pieces. In the video, DeAngelo takes us through Props stores in Long Island City and Queens and shows some of the period items that are used in countless period movies.

As always, you can find many more behind-the-scenes videos on the BTS section here on LensVid as well as previous videos published by Insider about the behind-the-scenes look of making Hollywood movies.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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