STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — February 1, 2017. Home is where the Art is and a number of films and television episodes that are stamped ‘Made In NY’ were actually filmed in New York’s Forgotten Borough – Staten Island.
Pictured: Brendan, a member of Theatrical Teamsters Local 817
This is Brendan a member of Theatrical Teamsters Local 817. I met him in January when he was directing traffic – helping truck drivers park their trailers – on Union Place near the Paramount Theatre. The historic venue was used as a set for a Gotham episode that aired on January 16. On the day I shot this portrait it was being used as a set for Marvel’s ‘The Defenders’ aka ‘Group Therapy’, the working title. Brendan told me that Sigourney Weaver was one of the actors on set that day.
Pictured: NYPD fliers used for film shoots
These fliers are becoming increasingly common in Staten Island. This flier notified the residents that to avoid being towed they should not park on Beach Street during filming of The Defenders / Group Therapy. Over the last several years I have added many of these fliers to my photo gallery. The majority of these fliers and shoots were discovered by pure chance: I stumbled on a number of film shoots including ‘Hair Brain’ and ‘The Girl Who Invented Kissing’ and many, many television shoots including: Gotham (Bayley Seton Hospital, Tappen Park and the Paramount Theatre); The Blacklist (Edgewater Street and Tappen Park), and; Boardwalk Empire (Dr. Ted Brown’s home on St. Paul’s Avenue, Silver Lake Park).
Pictured: The Kreischer Mansion
Having met the set decorator and set up crew for Boardwalk I started watching the show and subsequently traveled to Charleston to shoot the Kreischer Mansion which was featured in the pilot episode.
Pictured: The Boardwalk Empire ‘home’ of villain Chalky White.
My daily travels take me through several neighborhoods. In Stapleton Heights I discovered the beautiful Victorian house on St. Paul’s Avenue was a location for Boardwalk Empire – it was the home of Albert “Chalky” White, one of Boardwalk’s gangsters. It must have been disruptive for owner Dr. Ted Brown to rent it out but his home is now a part of history.
Pictured: a 1924 Model T Ford used in an episode of Boardwalk Empire
Later that season I spotted a 1924 Model T Ford parked on Forest Avenue. Boardwalk was filming a scene in Silver Lake Park. After Boardwalk was abruptly ended (cancelled) I thought perhaps my days of photographing film shoots were over. I was wrong – it wasn’t long before I stumbled on a film shoot in Tappen Park (Stapleton proper): the movie “The Girl Who Invented Kissing” used the park as a location, installing a vintage phone booth.
Pictured: A vintage phone booth used as a prop
A season or two ago I photographed Gotham’s “Arkham Asylum” aka Bayley Seton Hospital in Clifton – the location used to film Penguin’s release from the “care” of Dr. Hugo Strange. Gotham has filmed several episodes in at least three locations in Stapleton, including Tappen Park.
Pictured: the Arkham Asylum gate – at Bayley Seton Hospital
The Blacklist also used Tappen Park as a location – as well as the Rosebank waterfront – where a number of warehouses, etc., were severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy and still bear the scars from that encounter. Ideal locations for James Spader and friends.
Pictured: a camera operator prepares to shoot an episode of The Blacklist (Tappen Park)
Every location I’ve seen is surrounded by a large number of tractor trailers – Haddad’s equipment rented out to the film company. There are mobile wardrobes (on one occasion I saw the vintage clothes used in Boardwalk with the characters’ names taped on the plastic bags protecting the clothes) and dressing rooms, catering trucks, electrical generators and trucks full of props and other gear.
Pictured: mobile restrooms, labeled Lucy and Desi
It is not uncommon to see the mobile dressing rooms parked along Beach Street. During the Boardwalk Empire run Beach was used by mobile wardrobe trailers and dressing rooms, even when the shoot itself was on St. Paul’s Avenue in Stapleton Heights. That trend continues to the present day – on larger shoots one can find trailers parked along Beach, on Union Place, on Water Street and along Bay Street. ABC’s The Defenders shoots in particular feature many trailers, literally surrounding Tappen Park.
Pictured: mobile dressing rooms
Pictured: the Paramount Theatre
Recent shoots feature the Paramount Theatre which has been used by both Gotham and The Defenders.
Pictured: a front view of the historic Paramount
Pictured: outside the Paramount Theatre a worker coils electrical cables
At press time the Paramount is again hosting film crews and actors – The Defenders has obtained permits to shoot interior and exterior scenes over the course of three days: February first through the third. These shoots do inconvenience anyone who needs to park in the area and have hurt local businesses like the pan Asian restaurant ‘Bay House’ but they bring in revenue for the City and the Island and it is not a terrible thing that Staten Island is becoming known as a film friendly borough. After all, Home is where the Art is…
Pictured: inside the Paramount carpenters build sets (shoot: The Defenders)
See more photos in the Movie Sets gallery (flickr)