ADG Perspective

July-August 2021

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8 4 P E R S P E C T I V E | J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 2 1 When the musical first hit Broadway, I was filming in NYC for ten days and managed to see the show three times...thus, beginning a long dream to design a movie adaptation. For years, I followed the show's trajectory through studios and director changes. When chasing Crazy Rich Asians, I knew director Jon M. Chu was also attached to In the Heights. About two weeks into filming in Malaysia, Jon asked what was next for me, and would I be interested in designing a movie adaptation of the musical In the Heights? I played it coy and said yes... Set up at the Weinstein Company, the musical become entangled in that company's implosion, delaying production, and ultimately it landed at Warner Bros. In the interim, I followed Jon to Vancouver to design Home Before Dark for Apple TV+, and enjoyed my first collaboration with cinematographer Alice Brooks, who had worked with Jon on several projects since their meeting at USC. Working with Alice and Jon on the series afforded us a collaborative shorthand and the solid foundation needed to address the production and story complexities the musical required. Weeks later, I flew to NYC for a weekend Heights scout with Jon, the producers, choreographer Chris Scott and location manager Samson Jacobson. Washington Heights derives its name from the site of revolutionary era Fort Washington and for having the highest elevation in Manhattan. The George Washington Bridge has been an omnipresent neighborhood icon since 1931. Jon and I wanted an intersection with a view of the GWB (as the bridge is known). We had three days to select a hero intersection and confer with city, borough, neighborhood and parks representatives. The challenge of transforming and filming in a densely populated neighborhood would have a significant impact on parking, businesses and day-to-day life during production, so we did our best to engage and involve the community in the process. The city placed several streets off limits for the type of control production needed. Ultimately, we landed on W. 175 Street and Audubon Avenue. The intersection had just a peek at the GWB (which during post was "moved" more into view). The city had recently widened sidewalks at that intersection to calm traffic. Though not typical for the area, the A B C A. SALON LOCATION ACROSS FROM THE BODEGA PRIOR TO CONSTRUCTION. SET PHOTO. B. THE BODEGA LOCATION FROM INITIAL SCOUT PRIOR TO CONSTRUCTION. SET PHOTO. C. ROSARIO'S CAR SERVICE. SET PHOTO.

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