There’s no shortage of notable Schenectady scenes in Derek Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond the Pines.”
The movie was shot almost exclusively throughout Schenectady County, with the majority of scenes filmed throughout the city’s downtown. The movie was filmed over the course of roughly 12 weeks in summer 2011, utilizing dozens of sites throughout the area.
The sets for “The Pines” were uncommonly open, giving many a rare look into the inner workings of a major motion picture. The production proved to be a non-stop source of excitement around Schenectady as the dog days of summer set in.
When Cianfrance discusses his film, he’s always quick to credit the city for welcoming the production with open arms. Without such grand scale cooperation, he said the movie may have never come to fruition.
“Everyone was outstanding,” he said during a recent interview.
Here are some of the more notable local landmarks that served as sets during the film. And also, some movie trivia that happened behind the scenes.
Ryan Gosling performs as a stunt rider in the “globe of death” under a big top at the annual fair. Fun fact: A camera man actually shot from inside the globe with three stunt riders blazing around. His camera was nicked by one of the riders, drawing an abrupt end to the footage from inside the globe.
Route 7 Diner in Colonie
Eva Mendes waits tables at the diner and is approached by Gosling. Later in the film, Bradley Cooper meets Gabe Fazio at a table and is asked to steel cocaine from the Schenectady Police evidence locker. Fun fact: Mendes actually waited tables at the restaurant for several nights to research her role.
Route 5 in Glenville and the Stone Railroad Bridge over Gower Road
Gosling speeds away after robbing a bank. He pulls his dirt bike into a box truck driven by Ben Mendelshon. Fun fact: Gosling had a stunt rider, but did many scenes on the motorcycle himself, including this one. He was later given one of the bikes by the production company as a gift.
Dairy Circus on Sacandaga Road
Gosling and Mendes meet discuss their child over ice cream. Fun fact: Shannon Plumb, director Derek Cianfrance’s wife, is the one serving them.
TrustCo Bank on Brandywine
One of several banks robbed by Gosling. Fun fact: Cianfrance told Don Rittner of the Schenectady Film Commission to punch Gosling several times to get the actor riled up for the robbery scene. Rittner, who plays a customer in the bank, is roughed up by Gosling in the movie.
First National Bank of Scotia on Mohawk Avenue
The first bank robbed by Gosling. Fun fact: Despite closing the teller windows, the bank remained open for business throughout the shoot.
Gosling tears through the historic plot when he’s being chased by the Schenectady Police. Fun fact: The cruisers chasing Gosling weren’t authentic, but the logos on them were. The Schenectady Police dug up several old door logos leftover from the early 1990s that had been kept in storage.
St. John’s Cemetery
Cooper’s father is buried at the cemetery. Fun fact: Veteran state Assemblyman James Tedisco loaned his Jaguar to the production crew to be used as one of the cars in the funeral procession.
Aumiller’s Pharmacy on State Street
Dane DeHaan pilfers prescription medication for a high school party he’s attending and just narrowly escapes from the clerk who chases after him. Fun fact: Owner Frank Falvo was so used to tracking down shoplifters that he was a bit too effective catching up to DeHaan during the first few takes.
The Woodlawn Preserve
Gosling has a chance meeting with Mendelshon as the two are riding through the preserve. Fun fact: Though the preserve is technically outside of Schenectady, the production company insisted on having a location where the pine trees were clearly evident to the audience.
DeHaan is arraigned before a judge after being arrested on a drug possession charge. Fun fact: The judge in the scene is actually Melissa Mills, a longtime clerk for Schenectady County Family Court.
Schenectady Police Department
Cooper works at a desk by the evidence locker. Later, DeHaan and Emory Cohen are interrogated by detectives after being arrested with drugs. Fun fact: The actors playing Schenectady Police in the film rode with actual patrolmen and consulted with officers working security detail at the shoots to get their lingo and mannerisms down.
Cooper is awarded a medal under the rotunda for valor in tracking down Gosling after a botched robbery. Fun fact: Mayor Gary McCarthy’s office served as the county prosecutor’s office in the movie, because the logistics of using the real district attorney’s office in the dated Schenectady County courthouse proved to difficult.
St. John the Evangelist Church on Union Street
Mendes and Mahershala Ali christen their son, while Gosling crashes the service. Fun fact: The production crew was pleased enough with Colleen Noble, the manager at the Route 7 diner, that they cast her as the child’s godmother in the scene.
Cooper is hospitalized after being struck in the knee during a shootout with Gosling. Fun fact: The panoramic views of Schenectady that appear in the film were shot from the rooftop at Ellis.
Schenectady High School
Cohen transfers into the school and becomes a bad influence on DeHann. Fun fact: The crew was originally going to use Niskayuna High School —the alma mater of writer Ben Coccio —until there was a scheduling conflict.
M & S Cycles on Freemans Bridge Road
Gosling buys the trademark dirt bike he uses to rob banks around Schenectady. Fun fact: The bike used in the take had problems with its battery, so the crew kept it idling until right before the scene was shot so Gosling could easily start it up.
St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church Hellenic Center on Liberty Street
Cooper delivers an energetic acceptance speech after being elected county District Attorney. Fun fact: Longtime state Sen. Hugh Farley was given a script to read to introduce Cooper, but was good enough at improvising that Cianfrance allowed him to largely ad lib the scene.
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Categories: Schenectady County