×

Pic turns N.Y. into ‘Sunshine’ state

Celebrate New York tribute

“Of all the movies I’ve written,” says Charlie Kaufman, “‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ might have the strongest sense of place.”

With many of the locations in the film preserved from the original script, keeping the production in New York was key for Kaufman (a New York native) and French director Michel Gondry. Despite usual budgetary pressure to consider shooting elsewhere, the creative duo didn’t have to put up much of a fight to convince a largely homegrown production team raised on low-budget indies that the picture be shot in Gotham.

“It was important that the depiction of memories were very real rather than romanticized,” says Gondry, who’d only been to New York several times before six months of extensive scouting in preparation for the film.

Focus Features co-prexy James Schamus, whose company financed the pic, saw it “as a miraculously romantic movie that allowed a more real New York to take on epic romantic proportions. We didn’t have to pretty it up.”

Gondry began with a precise map of the entire story, “almost like a subway map of all the memories. I wanted to physically see the connection of the memory in the Chinese restaurant to the memory of the bookstore. And to see the deterioration of those memories.”

Reality was an essential element for the urban locations. “New York City is one of the most photogenic cities on Earth, and I really wanted to feel the city including all of its mundane environment,” says Gondry.

For Joel’s apartment and the doctor’s office, Gondry wanted the reality that typifies New York quarters (Yonkers, the Lower East Side). The only sets used were duplicates of the actual locations built on studio stages at the Bayonne naval facility.

One of the pic’s producers, Anthony Bregman, who came up through the ranks of Good Machine, understood “that it had to be really grounded in reality with live streets and real extras to balance the high-concept, futuristic element of the story.”

“Because we began prepping the movie less than a year after 9/11, there was a strong sense of goodwill to give back to an ailing film community. It enabled a higher-level crew for an ambitious film with a limited budget,” adds Bregman.

With award-winning N.Y. cinematographer Ellen Kuras and veteran Gotham producer Michael Hausman (serving as first assistant director) among the ranks, it was definitely the A team, says Schamus.

Pulling off an unplanned scene of Ringling Bros.’ arrival to the city was a real testament to the speed and creativity with which the New York film industry can react, according to Schamus. “We turned that plan around in less than a day with permits, releases — it’s exactly what people think you can’t do in New York.”

Circus elephants were not the only fantastic things that New York provided. When a monster snowstorm hit while shooting in Montauk, Gondry insisted on using it to their advantage despite concerns about continuity.

For Kaufman, raised on Long Island, Montauk signified “the end of the road, especially in winter. It captured the loneliness and isolation intended in the story.”

On location with “Eternal Sunshine”

1. Lacuna Office: 504 Grand St. at Columbia, NY, NY
2. Commuter Train Station: Mt.Vernon East Station, Mt. Vernon, NY
3. Montauk Train Station: Montauk, NY
4. Beach: Montauk Beach, NY
5. Beach House: Georgica Assn. Road, Wainscott, NY
6. Diner: Plaza Restaurant: Montauk, NY
7. Clementine’s Apt: 59 Orient Way, Brooklyn, NY
8. Joel’s Apt.: 123 Valentine Lane, Yonkers, NY
9. Rob & Carrie’s House: 46 Mt. Pleasant Road, Yonkers, NY
10. Antic Attic Store: Hole in the Wall: 229 E. 14th St., NY, NY
11. Bookstore: Barnes & Noble: Columbia, NY, NY
12. Bar: The Pour House: 790 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, NY
13. Flea Market: Orchard Street, NY, NY
14. Charles River: FDR State Park, Yorktown Heights, NY
15. Forest: South Mountain Preservation, West Orange, NJ
16. Park: Madison Square Park: 26th/ Madison Ave., NY, NY
17. Joel’s parents house: 105 E. 23rd St., Bayonne, NJ
18. Chinese Restaurant: Tien Fu Guong: 180 Third Ave., NY, NY
19. Stage: The Peninsula at the Bayonne naval facility, Bayonne, NJ

More Film

  • The Lion King

    ‘The Lion King’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Walt Disney Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “The Lion King.” Ads placed for the remake had an estimated media value of $5.64 million through Sunday for 1,290 national ad airings on [...]

  • Beyonce poses for photographers upon arrival

    Beyoncé Releases Music Video for 'Spirit,' Her 'Lion King' Soundtrack Contribution

    Beyoncé fans are stampeding across the web veldt to get a look at her just-released music video for “Spirit,” the original song she co-wrote and sang for the “Lion King” soundtrack. The track is also included on the companion album she executive-produced and will release Friday, “The Gift.” Clips from the computer-animated film are interspersed [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Jennifer Lopez Takes Down Wall Street Crooks in New Trailer for 'Hustlers'

    According to Jennifer Lopez, basic pole dancing movements all revolve around a few foot positions. But as she tells her stripper student Constance Wu, it’s not just about the dancing. In the new trailer for “Hustlers,” Lopez and Wu swindle a number of high profile Wall Street clients in an effort to bring their white [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Writers Guild Leaders Warn Members About Contact With Fired Agents

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America are warning members about being contacted by their former agents — asserting that such efforts are an attempt to undermine the WGA and its members. The missive, sent Tuesday from the WGA negotiating committee, came with the guild in a bitter three-month standoff with talent agents that appears [...]

  • Apollo 11

    Film News Roundup: 'Apollo 11' Re-Release Set for Moon Landing Anniversary

    In today’s film news roundup, Neon is re-releasing “Apollo 11”; “Sesame Street” gets moved; “Supersize Me 2” is set for Sept. 13; Will Ropp gets a “Silk Road” deal; and Apple makes a movie deal. RE-LAUNCH Neon will re-release Todd Douglas Miller’s documentary “Apollo 11” in theaters on July 20, the 50th anniversary of the [...]

  • Michael B. JordanAFI Awards Luncheon, Los

    Michael B. Jordan's 'Just Mercy' Moves to Awards Season Slot

    Michael B. Jordan’s upcoming legal drama “Just Mercy” has been shifted forward three weeks from Jan. 17 to Dec. 25 for an Oscar-qualifying theatrical release. “Just Mercy” is based on the case of Walter McMillan, an African-American death-row prisoner who was exonerated in 1993 after being convicted five years earlier for a 1986 murder in [...]

  • Harry Styles to Play Prince Eric

    Harry Styles in Talks to Play Prince Eric in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Harry Styles is going under the sea. The former One Direction frontman is in early negotiations to play Prince Eric in Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content