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7 Things You Didn't Know About Filming 'Jessica Jones' in New York City

By Radhika Marya | December 22, 2015 7:20am | Updated on December 22, 2015 12:22pm
 Production designer Loren Weeks and location manager Jason Farrar talked to DNAinfo New York about filming "Jessica Jones" in New York City.
'Jessica Jones' Behind the Scenes
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The binge-watching world was taken by storm when the first season of Marvel’s “Jessica Jones” hit Netflix last month.

The noir series, one of four live-action Marvel superhero shows developed for the streaming service, focuses on the titular superhero-turned-private eye  (played by Krysten Ritter) who is based in Hell’s Kitchen — just like another superhero, Daredevil.

The show didn't actually film very much in Hell's Kitchen, opting for other neighborhoods of Manhattan, as well as parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

“Our Hell’s Kitchen in these series has become a little more Village quality,” said Loren Weeks, production designer for "Jessica Jones." “It’s Marvel’s Hell’s Kitchen.”

And this isn't your average glossy superhero show, Weeks said.

“We’re more ‘The Wire’ than we are ‘Green Arrow.' We wanted to feel very realistic. We wanted to feel New York ‘70s kind of grittiness. … I do want people to watch this and feel like they could live there. It’s not their New York, but they would feel very much at home there,” he said.

Weeks and Jason Farrar, a location manager who worked on the second half of "Jessica Jones," talked to DNAinfo New York about what filming the series in New York City entailed:

1. The East Village’s Horseshoe Bar stands in for fellow superhero Luke Cage’s bar.

Weeks: "Jessica had to have a point of view looking into the bar. There had to be apartments above the bar, so there were very specific kinds of needs and it had to feel like Hell’s Kitchen, which of course it’s not."

2. The "Jessica Jones" crew filmed a controlled explosion at Horseshoe Bar. Here’s how it worked:

Weeks: "We could not take out the windows, which are [made up of] multiple small colored glass and metal frames. We didn’t know frankly when we picked that location that we would have that explosion. … What we did was build a fireproof box in the entrance and we had a cannon in there which blew out debris and smoke and some fire. And then we did a lighting effect on the inside and then the rest of the explosion was handled by visual effects."

3. The scenes involving the subway were actually shot on the PATH train, as well as the 33rd Street PATH station. The scenes that took place in the station involved showing the characters on the subway tracks, which required careful timing and some special effects.

Farrar: “We were able to use a platform of that station between hours, between … 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the ridership is low. … We were able to use an area, to use a train and to use a track and to use a platform exclusively during those hours. It required a lot of planning because of the shortness of time, and we did stunt stuff down there … there’s a visual effects element because you have the third rail. You can’t really can’t have people down on the train when the train is coming through. And there’s what’s called compositing. You take a shot of the train coming without a person and then you put a person down there without the train coming. … And then you composite the two together.”

4. The exterior of Jessica’s apartment building wasn’t actually in Hell’s Kitchen — it was further uptown, in the vicinity of 101st Street.

Farrar: “The exterior was there and then the hallway and the apartment were built on a stage. I think early in the show, there might have been a shot … in the lobby that we shot there, but as far as her apartment and everything that had to do with her apartment and the hallway outside of her apartment … that was on a stage.”

5. Scenes depicting Jessica’s childhood home were shot in Douglaston, Queens.

Farrar: “Douglaston’s sort of like the furthest east of Queens on the north shore of the island. ... It’s sort of unique actually in regards to New York City.”

6. A climactic scene in the second-to-last episode of the season was filmed inside the Angel Oresanz Foundation building on Norfolk Street in the Lower East Side.

Farrar: “It’s an interesting place because it looks like a church, but it’s not actually… It was a synagogue and it’s a cool place. They have all sorts of events there.”

7. The final episode featured scenes filmed at Pier 88 in Manhattan, as well as the old Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower at 1 Hanson Place in Brooklyn.

Farrar: “[One Hanson] is the big giant bank-ish looking space where she jumps from the balcony. … The rest of the building is apartments, but they’ve left this space the way it is.”