ADG Perspective

July-August 2021

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9 0 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 The fire escape baskets, though inspired by neighborhood basket designs, were reworked to be dense enough to support body weight and create danceable surfaces. Ladders and baskets on the hydraulic section were constructed from steel. The other two fire escape sections not used for dancing were made with steel frames and laser-cut PVC ornamentation to reduce cost. All windows were danceable. Window dressing was fixed to the set so as not to move. Fabric drapes were soaked in stiffeners to help retain rigidity even when the wall was moving. Window A/C units were gutted, then supported with wood boxes to become danceable. In my many Heights walks, I had locked into W. 176 Street near J. Hood Wright Park with a view to the GWB as the film's "Nina" street. Visual effects supervisor Mark Russell executed a street lidar for use in VR choreography rehearsals to block camera and lighting moves. After filming, Mark "extended" the set per our total building design. An additional window platform with a matching window parallel to the deck was created twelve feet above the stage floor to facilitate capturing the image of Benny and Nina dancing across the window. Three interior apartment environments were built to "place" optically behind the windows. One of those sets was a dining room with a matching double window so the young boy could see the dancers...and so the audience knows gravity still exists. Pacencia Y Fe Initial discussions for "Pacencia Y Fe" explored having the song performed in a dark soundstage. I was hoping for more visual structure. Since Abuela Claudia sings of her 1940s journey from Cuba to the US, I pitched period subway cars that could serve as a visual conveyance of her memories. As the train moves from elevated tracks into the tunnel in Washington Heights, the electrical handoff served as a way to transition into the past, with the other riders turning into 1940s dancers. Subway ads turn into Cuban graphics. The finale takes place in MTA's 191 Street Station—the site of a public arts project in 2008. Over time, areas of the tunnel art had been tagged or destroyed. The production worked with the original artists or their estates to restore what we could, and sections for which we could not obtain clearance were covered and painted with our own graffiti. The Pool The NYC Parks Department had never allowed anyone to film in Highbridge Park Pool, so that particular location took a lot of finesse to gain access, and accomplish preproduction and filming in a very limited window. Ultimately, the department agreed to allow the company access, (so long as opening day was not moved) and to hold off on a major renovation of the 1880s stone pump tower that would have clad the tower in scaffolding. The pools were rehabbed, fencing and railings removed that would've inhibited shooting, and the pools were painted our chosen color. Large-scale banners were used on structures and walls where we couldn't paint. The Murals and Artwork One of the first things we did in the neighborhood was to paint a mural on the side of the bodega A. SUBWAY ENTRANCE. B. SUBWAY CAR AND PLATFORM SET FOR "PACENCIA Y FE." SET PHOTO. C. HIGHBRIDGE PARK POOL. PRODUCTION STILL. D. PHARMACY MURAL ON LOCATON. SET PHOTO. E. SALON WALL MURAL ON LOCATION. SET PHOTO. F. "WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN" DANCE WALL NUMBER. PRODUCTION STILL. COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. A B

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