Netflix’s hotly anticipated film The Irishman, based off the life of teamster and mob hitman Frank Sheeran, is back filming more scenes in Westchester County. Director Martin Scorsese, star Robert De Niro, and supporting actor Joe Pesci were spotted filming scenes in Suffern this past October, when portions of Lafayette Ave. were transformed into a stand-in for 1970s New York City.
This week, the film was spotted filming around Yonkers, using Empire City Casino as their base of operations. The casino and raceway have been featured in film and television productions for decades, starting with the racetrack’s appearance in 1984’s The Flamingo Kid. More recently, the casino has played host to Billions, Hulu’s The Path starring Aaron Paul, and CBS’s Bull, as well as films such as Sneaky Pete, and Girl Most Likely.
Sales Manager Tatiana Diaz says part of what makes the casino such an attractive filming location is its versatility and proximity to The City. “We’re within 25 miles of Columbus Circle. That puts us in the [NYC] Film Zone.”
The perks of working with local unions combined with the versatility of the casino: 19 buildings spread over 100 acres yield not just casino and race track sets, but multiple restaurants, commercial-grade kitchens, stages, a food court, stables, banquet and convention space, VIP rooms and private lounges (with secret sliding book cases!), and even a two-lane retro-styled bowling alley. A bevy of office space, back hallways, and construction sites means creating almost any setting is possible.
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Entertainment Technician Matt Raimo has been with Empire City Casino for eleven years, working with production companies to transform spaces however they need. He is also a filmmaker himself, his short film Based on a True Story having been selected to debut at this year’s YoFi Festival in Yonkers. Asked if working with some of Hollywood’s highest echelon artists and teams has effected his own work, Raimo either knowingly or accidentally described the benefits of filming in Westchester: “It hasn’t changed the type of stories I tell; it has reaffirmed … that what we’re doing aligns with how bigger budget films work.”
“When a project is that small and everyone knows everyone, it’s a much more intimate atmosphere. It’s in line with the way bigger productions work, but the lesson I take away is small [productions] are less impersonal.”
The Irishman is tentatively slated for release some time in 2019.
Have you spotted a film or TV shoot in the Hudson Valley? Feel free to drop us a line here!