Movie magic is all around us on the streets of New York City, but there’s plenty going on behind the scenes — and people making it happen without the recognition of onscreen talent.
Normally closed to the public, Kaufman Astoria Studios opened its gates this Sunday and rolled out over 20 of the working trailers you’re always wondering about when passing them on the sidewalk for New York on Location. Crew from the props, lighting, makeup, cinematography and stunt departments chatted about their jobs (and happily fielded any celebrity-related questions) as visitors got a close-up look at their equipment, even getting to use crane cameras, take a dolly ride and handle props.
The studio also showed off how weather is made (spoiler alert: Movie snow is very possibly just suds, which float like the real thing). Stuntmen demonstrated high falls and how to get lit on fire safely — so safely that the burning man had time to pose for the mildly terrified crowd seated just 10 feet away.
The celebrities’ trailers were some of the most popular — the biggest-name stars get an impressive spread, from camper vans to what feels like a proper hotel room, with couches, lounge chairs, the iconic lighted mirror and a bedroom bigger than those in some NYC apartments.
Thinking of getting into the movie business yourself? Chris Lombardozzi of I.A.T.S.E. Local 52, which contributed personnel and equipment to the event along with Kaufman Astoria Studios, the Museum of the Moving Image and Theatrical Teamsters Local 817, has been working in lighting departments for over 30 years after graduating from a four-year program at Brooklyn College.
He says that while his formal education was important to understand how the entire set works and the aesthetics of filming, people can also learn on the job — and he’s never been busier. “There are 46 shows [not counting live in-studio programs like NBC’s “Today”] being filmed in New York right now,” he says. “There’s more work than ever, by far.”