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Downtown Buffalo is setting as ‘American Side’ begins 4-week movie shoot

Locations around the south end of Pearl Street in downtown Buffalo provided the settings Monday as “The American Side” began filming in Western New York.

Eden native Greg Stuhr, co-writer and star of the movie, joined others from the cast and crew at Police Headquarters, the Dun Building and a nearby diner for scenes in the low-budget detective story. Actors whose names are more familiar to moviegoers – Matthew Broderick, Janeane Garofalo and Tim Blake Nelson – are expected to drop in at other times during the four-week shoot.

For the first day, the front doors of Police Headquarters were locked to visitors in the morning while action was filmed in the lobby.

Later, office workers out on their lunch hour were politely rerouted from the sidewalk in front of the historic Dun Building while a quick scene was shot, before the crew moved across the street to the concrete block parking garage that also houses Fera’s Lunch Hour diner.

The diner’s faded Pepsi sign advertising “soups• subs • sa ads• tacos” had to be part of the appeal for what is being promoted as a modern noir mystery.

The movie’s plot is inspired by the work of scientist Nikola Tesla, designer of the first hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls and the “father” of the use of alternating current.

The story involves his later, top-secret work, some of which disappeared following his death in 1943 and has resurfaced 70 years later.

Jenna Ricker, who also co-wrote the film, is directing.

Film fans can follow the movie’s progress via Twitter (“I love the smell of Buffalo in the morning. Smells like making a movie … And Cheerios.” was the message Monday morning) and via its Facebook site.

They also may find a way to be part of the movie there.

The filmmakers have used social media to track down vintage cars for the film and appropriately run-down sets for the grittier aspects of the detective story.

While Stuhr is not a big name for film audiences, he is well-known among local theatergoers for his much-praised work at, among other places, the Irish Classical Theatre and MusicalFare Theatre, where he directed “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” in 2011.

Stuhr, who grew up in Eden, had performed in the same play on Broadway after moving to New York City.