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1970s Bronx Recreated With Painstaking Research for 'The Get Down'

By Eddie Small | March 14, 2016 4:16pm | Updated on August 11, 2016 3:22pm
"The Get Down" is scheduled for an Aug. 12 debut on Netflix.
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THE BRONX — The film crew of Baz Luhrmann's upcoming Netflix show "The Get Down" went through such painstaking measures to recreate the city at the dawn of hip-hop that they ordered props from as far away as Japan.

The series, which will debut its first six episodes on Aug. 12, focuses on a group of teenagers from the South Bronx during the 1970s.

It aims to tell the story of how New York City gave birth to music genres like hip-hop and disco while it was almost bankrupt.

Glenn Gatti, prop shopper for the show, said that while they had to custom make certain items such as the speakers that Grandmaster Flash used when he started DJing, they were able to find several of the vintage items by scouring the depths of sites like eBay and Craigslist.

"Before the Internet, you had prop houses, but now you can actually find a lot of people that have this stuff," said Gatti, who has also worked on New York-based shows like "Louie" and "Broad City."

"It’s amazing."

The show required plenty of everyday period-appropriate items, such as soda cans, cereal boxes and candy bars, but its focus on music meant that items like boomboxes and turntables were needed as well, according to Gatti.

He said he was surprised to learn that the huge boomboxes people often associate with hip-hop did not actually arrive on the scene until the '80s, while the ones in the late '70s were typically much smaller.


"Where they really became this big sensation — like breakdancing, stuff like that — that was more '81, '82," he said.

"So the boomboxes here, kids had them, but it was like single Sonys that were not huge at all by any standards, nothing like the '80s ones.

"Some people had little transistor radios, more or less."

Some turntables, on the other hand, were quite weighty and pricey in the 1970s, Gatti said.

"They’re very heavy and expensive, like tanks. They’re made very well," he said, adding that they played a central role in the development of hip-hop during the time of "The Get Down."

He cited a sound machine for musicians called the space echo machine as a particularly challenging prop to find, noting that they had to obtain it from Japan.

Gatti has yet to see any completed episodes of "The Get Down," but he hopes that when they do air, viewers will not find any props that seem out of place or inaccurate.

"You try to challenge yourself to get everything authentic," he said.