On the Set With Woody

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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In 1993, before cell phone photographs, I had these photos taken by Naum Kasdan. Although they look like New York in the ’20s, this was a set for about 30 seconds of screen time in Woody Allen’s comedy Bullets Over Broadway.

As if by magic one morning his crew transformed West 43rd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues in front of the entrance to the old New York Times building into the Great White Way of yore. It was filled with false storefronts, vintage automobiles, vintage posters and signs and Woody. He sat in his director’s chair as John Cusack (as playwright David Shayne), and Jack Warden (as Julian Marx, his agent) walked up and down the street, over and over and over. The numerous takes took hours. Woody would watch them stroll and talk. After saying “cut” in a low voice, he’d walk over to the actors and whisper something, then return to his chair.

The routine continued for two days. Then, as suddenly as the set appeared, it was knocked down and removed. The joyful old gave way to the squalid contemporary. However, without notice, two days later, when everything was back to normal, the set was back for a few more hours of exterior shots—all for a precious few seconds of film.

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →