Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’ hits the streets of downtown L.A.

Sept. 21, 2009 | 7:50 p.m.

Los Angeles Times metro reporter Esmeralda Bermuda wrote a story about the community footprint of a movie set, specifically Christopher Nolan’s massive “Inception,” a reality-bending thriller due in theaters next year. — Geoff Boucher

Inception set in L.A.

It was still dark when Dominga Cornejo parked herself outside her swap meet stand along South Spring Street, her ruffled pink apron tied around her waist and her giant bin of Mexican candy within arm’s reach.

At any moment, the 77-year-old expected a torrent of rain to drench her, a series of gun blasts to boom and a locomotive engine to come barreling down the street, possibly in her direction.

“I’m ready for it,” she said in Spanish. “I hope everyone sees my little store.”

Cornejo and the rest of downtown Los Angeles was abuzz Saturday as four blocks were transformed into an elaborate film set calling for fake rain storms, gunfights, smoke effects and even a train crash. Staff on the streets were closelipped about the project, but the scenes are for “Inception,” an action thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

A posted permit announced in fine print that the filming would include a “simulated car crash with train, breaking glass, simulated bullet effects on body and things, atmospheric smoke effects, weapons brandished . . . near hits & misses,” among other things.

To keep media, particularly paparazzi, from sneaking into the set, security manned nearly every shop, building and parking structure from Main Street to Broadway and 6th to 8th streets. But that didn’t keep Angelenos from cutting through orange cones and production assistants to get to work, to visit nearby shops or to simply stop and take in the commotion.

With swap meet sales sagging, Cornejo didn’t mind the extra attention.

“They even paid me $300, which is way more than I make in two days,” said the Salvadoran from Montebello…

THERE’S MORE, READ THE REST

– Esmeralda Bermuda

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PHOTO: “Inception” set shot by Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

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