San Francisco takes center stage in ABC's 'When We Rise'

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Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black is talking about his new ABC mini-series "When We Rise." The series covers a 50 year history of the gay rights movement. (KGO-TV)

A groundbreaking mini-series about the fight for LGBT rights premieres on ABC7 Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. Many of the scenes filmed for "When We Rise" were shot in San Francisco using extras from the community.

RELATED: ABCs 'When We Rise' shows emotional journey of Bay Area activists

Civic Center is where film crews worked to recreate vigils and protests from the 1970s.

Cleve Jones is one of the characters depicted in the mini-series. Production crews worked tirelessly to remake major events in San Francisco history.

Special Effects Supervisor Matt Heron used smoke grenades to create a fire at City Hall for one of the scenes. "Beautiful San Francisco wind will make a little smoke appear to be a lot of smoke."

"When We Rise" explores the lives of four activists in San Francisco beginning in the early 1970s. It is written and directed by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.

"This mini-series follows a handful of true stories," he said. "LGBT people who came to San Francisco. They came for safety. They didn't find that and they had to create it."

Local activist Diane Jones is portrayed by Rachel Griffiths and Jones' wife Roma Guy is played by Mary Louise Parker. Both Jones and Guy founded The Woman's Building.

"All the diversity of women because we're rich, we're poor, we're gay, straight. We're everything," said Guy. "We're people of color, immigrants."

Ken Jones, a gay activist, is also featured and played by Michael Kenneth Williams. "I bring all the activists who really took the risks in those days," Jones told ABC7 News.

Last week, we caught up with some of the stars of the series at a sneak peak of the mini-series in the Castro District.

Guy Pearce plays the older Cleve Jones and Austin P. Mackenzie plays the younger version.

Mackenzie said Jones was, "On set almost every day with us and working with me and working with Lance to make sure it was accurate as it could be."

"It is really a study in intersectionality," said Charlie Carver who plays Michael Smith. "Especially for network TV it's pretty cool."

Watch the four-part miniseries starting Monday at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Click here for more stories on When We Rise

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entertainmentwhen we riselgbtbay areaAIDSracismdrugsABCtelevisionSan Francisco
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