For helmer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and producer John Lesher, there was no question that “Birdman” — the upcoming black comedy starring Michael Keaton as an actor struggling to mount a Broadway play — had to be filmed in New York.

The only obstacle, per Lesher: “It’s expensive to shoot in the city.”

The solution, as with so many Gotham-set pics, came in the form of New York State tax breaks that helped offset production costs.

Lesher considered other locations. “It’s what you do when you’re diligent about the best way of making a movie, but this one takes place in New York. Without the tax incentive, we wouldn’t have been able to afford to make it the way we made it.”

“Birdman” was shot mostly in and around the historic Saint James Theatre in Manhattan’s theater district. “It was important to us to be in a real Broadway theater. It’s as much a character in the film as it is a location,” Lesher says.

The cinematography relied mostly on the venue’s own theatrical lighting, supplemented by LEDs introduced by d.p. Emmanuel Lubezki. “It’s a beautiful theater, and we wanted it to look as it does,” Lesher explains.