Monday, September 20, 2010

Must See: Boardwalk Empire on HBO


Despite the hedging assessment I read in a recent NY Times article, I was delighted to have the opportunity to watch Steve Buscemi's great performance in Martin Scorsese's wonderfully directed production of "Boardwalk Empire."  Interesting era captured, with a good story, last night began setting the foundation for a story arc that will clearly intertwine characters, deepen and develop relationships and conflicts. It is great to see Steve Buscemi in film where he gets to break out. In starring vehicles (Trees Lounge, for example) he is a somewhat zhlubby, everyman character, although always wonderfully played. And then, in his gangster film roles, he is more often in a vivid but supporting role. Great to see him step out front, especially under Scorsese's masterful direction, in a big, gangster, period piece. Best of all, not only is this a special TV event, but it is a new HBO series that to this viewer, has already demonstrated after one episode that it has long legs (gambe lunghi in the vernacular)...

For anyone familiar with Atlantic City, the set design  is particularly intriguing, as it catches the full flavor and resonance of the Boardwalk through a funny kind of cultural time warp.


Even more remarkable that the Boardwalk was created as a 300-foot long set in Greenpoint Brooklyn, which the Greenpoint Gazette reported about late last month. As Jesse Sposato reported in the Gazette last month:

"If you’ve gone for ice cream at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, caught a show at Greenpoint’s Newtown Barge Park or, for any other number of reasons, walked down Commercial Street in the last year, you’ve probably noticed the set for the upcoming HBO television show Boardwalk Empire. At least part of the set—the show’s namesake boardwalk, to be specific."

"A single episode of Boardwalk Empire takes twelve days to shoot, and of those twelve, two are shot on the boardwalk in Greenpoint. “The boardwalk is the flagship set of the show. It’s not the one that we shoot on the most often . . . but it’s sort of our emblematic set,” Production Designer Bob Shaw said. The crew also utilizes the streets around the boardwalk for exterior shots, and they sometimes turn Greenpoint concert venue Warsaw into a faux nightclub replete with a stage show and all.
"As the most crucial of things often happen by chance, this was the case with discovering Greenpoint’s Commercial Street lot location for the boardwalk. “It was purely happenstance that we ended up in Greenpoint,” Shaw said. Production Manager Harvey Waldman spotted the large vacant space on his way to work one day while avoiding the early morning BQE traffic. Before that, they were considering spots like Asbury Park and Floyd Bennett Field, both of which ended up being impractical for a host of reasons.

“The Greenpoint site has some features we didn’t even realize would prove to be as important as they are,” Shaw said. The site has enough space to build the boardwalk and also has adequate support space for the cast to be dressed, made up and fed. The extra space has allowed the cast and crew to be contained within the site and not be spilling out into other places.





Greenpoint Gazette full story Link here.


HBO posted a time-lapse video of the construction of the Greenpoint set:

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