Schenectady’s quiet Baker Avenue neighborhood was transformed into a bustling corridor of film crews and actors on Tuesday with the filming of Showtime’s “Three Women,” which stars actresses like Shailene Woodley and Betty Gilpin.
Trucks filled with equipment lined one side of the street on Tuesday morning and background actors and crew members gathered at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church where both indoor and outdoor scenes were filmed.
“It’s just exciting,” said Barbara Mazzone, who lives on Baker Avenue. She got up at 5 a.m. to see what the crews were up to and had watched as the trucks started coming in to set up the evening before. “It was fun,” Mazzone said.
As part of the set, the Baker Avenue church was renamed “St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church,” and cars that dotted the sides of the avenue had Indiana license plates during one scene shot on Tuesday morning.
The church is one of several locations in the Capital Region serving as a stand-in for Indiana, North Dakota or the Northeast, three locations featured in “Three Women.”
The drama series is based on the bestselling book of the same name by Lisa Taddeo, and it centers around three women; Lina (Gilpin), an Indiana woman in a passionless marriage who has an affair; Sloane (DeWanda Wise), an entrepreneur from the Northeast whose committed open marriage is threatened when two strangers enter the picture; and Maggie (Gabrielle Creevy), a North Dakota student who accuses her married English teacher of an inappropriate relationship, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The film crew came into town earlier this week and will be filming in a variety of locations across Schenectady County, as well as in Albany. Their home base, however, is Schenectady and more specifically, Armory Studios on Washington Avenue.
“It’s exciting to have a film crew back in,” said co-owner Ray Legere.
The armory, which stretches 95,000 square feet, has everything from wardrobe to dining areas to meeting spaces to craft services. It’s a state-qualified 35% tax credit production facility and has been used as a home base for a number of other productions as well, including Amazon Prime’s “Modern Love” Season Two.
“I learned so much from other [productions like] ‘Modern Love,’ . . . and essentially they want a one-stop-shop that they can house all their different needs and departments. We have such a large place that allows us to accommodate them,” Legere said.
Within the armory, which Legere helped to renovate several years ago, they recently set up rooms where crew members can meet.
“We’ve tried to lay out different rooms in anticipation of their needs and we’ve succeeded. We prepped the other rooms for general meeting rooms where you can get away from the hubbub of the production because it’s quite a wild, hectic event when you’re on set,” Legere said.
“Three Women” is one of many productions that has been filmed in Schenectady over the last few years.
“There has been an increase in film and television productions throughout the Capital Region, and inquiries are on the rise,” said Donna Pennell, Schenectady Film Commissioner. “HBO, Showtime, Amazon Prime, Discovery, Apple TV, Food Network and numerous indie projects of all sizes continue to return to upstate.”
“We have a great team in place at Film Schenectady. When leads come in we try to provide super fast service to identify and provide access to locations that match the production’s needs,” said Ray Gillen, chairperson of the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority.
In July, in an effort to bring in more productions, the Schenectady Film Commission (also known as Film Schenectady) became a part of Discover Schenectady, a non-profit organization that promotes travel and tourism in Schenectady County. The latter recently released a video expounding the benefits of filming in Schenectady, funded as part of a $60,000 grant approved by Metroplex.
“Schenectady is a yes city. Whenever a production comes here, the answer is yes. ‘Can we do this?’ ‘Yes,’” Legere said in the video.
“Schenectady was able to accommodate ‘Modern Love’ during the height of the COVID pandemic, which shows the flexibility within the community and the resiliency, that we were able to do a production, support the cast and crew in really some adverse set of circumstances,” said Mayor Gary McCarthy in the video.
Film productions like “Modern Love” can have a positive impact on the local economy. It’s estimated that that particular production had an impact of $165,000 per day, with a cast and crew of about 150 people living and working in the city for five months.
“Three Women” is also bringing in hundreds of hotel stays, with many of the cast and crew staying locally for the week.
The crew is expected to film locally throughout this week and they may return to Schenectady in the near future.
“Filming on this series is expected to go into May of 2022 and we look forward to their return,” Pennell said.
Reach reporter Indiana Nash at [email protected] and @Indijnash on Twitter.