Sometimes, locals can get a bit part when a major movie production arrives in the community. But mostly, it’s the locale 8 the streets, office buildings, old train stations and bridges 8 that get the fleeting chance at small fame.
Shooting for “Marshall,” the courtroom thriller about a case Thurgood Marshall handled early in his law career, wraps up shooting here early this week. In all, the film crew used about a dozen local sites.
The Central Terminal got a glamorous makeover in order to become the Bridgeport, Conn., station.
A wheeled railway cart was transformed into a steam engine outside the Orchard Park depot.
A Military Road tavern became the setting for a bar scene.
The film crew arrived in Buffalo nearly a month ago. And over the course of the last four weeks, many area residents captured a glimpse of how a major movie is made and the local sites that attracted the film crew.
“I will never, ever view movies the same way again,” supervisor Patrick Keem said after watching the movie crew transform Orchard Park’s 1912 train depot into a Mississippi scene, complete with “whites only” signs.
“That was a shock to see,” he said.
He also got the opportunity to share a catered meal with the crew at a church across the street from the depot and meet Chadwick Boseman, who plays Marshall.
“Oh, my God; he’s so nice,” Keem said.
To Keem, the 200 or more movie crew members seemed like ants on an ant hill. He watched as the crew arrived in Orchard Park with lights, tripods, cameras, wardrobe, makeup and equipment. A long trailer with dressing rooms had character names on the doors, like “Mississippi man” and “Mississippi woman.”
Some locals also got into the action, although it is not certain they will survive the film edits.
Bob Snyder loaned his 1939 Ford sedan for the production, and he took off his modern aviator glasses so he could drive with the window down and expose his face in one shot.
But making movies, he discovered, gets dull, as the same scene is shot again and again.
“It was sort of like watching paint dry...They go over it, and over it and over it,” he said.
Here are most of the locations where the film crew shot scenes since May 23:
• The Central Terminal got a $90,000 makeover, as the crew cleaned and transformed it with faux marble finishes. The second-floor balcony was turned into a dining area. The crew did more in 2 1/2 weeks than volunteers managed over the past 19 years, said Mark Lewandowski of the Central Terminal Corporation.
“It looks totally restored,” he said. “It’s like it just closed yesterday.”
• The Dillon Courthouse, on Court Street, which closed when the new courthouse opened on Niagara Square, became the Bridgeport courthouse, where most of the movie takes place.
• A floor at the Mahoney state office building, also on Court Street, with period frosted windows, served as the NAACP’s office.
• Buffalo City Hall’s steps stood in for courthouse steps. Hallways of the municipal building served as the Bridgeport courthouse hallways.
• The Statler Hotel’s Rendezvous Nite Club, open only for private events, served as Minton’s Playhouse, a Harlem jazz club where people like singer Billie Holiday performed.
• Niagara Falls Lasalle library, a former municipal building on Buffalo Avenue, had intact jail cells used in the movie. Its offices became the law office of Stan Friedman, an attorney working with Marshall.
• The Genesee County Courthouse in Batavia was used in an Oklahoma courthouse scene.
• Dill’s Tavern, 362 Military Road, with a tin ceiling, phone booth and vintage wood tavern chairs and tables, was used in a bar scene.
• Two North Buffalo homes were used: at Beard and Morris avenues and Summit Avenue and Russell Street.
• Middlesex Road’s stretch of pre-1940 homes was a backdrop for a driving scene.
• The Ohio Street bridge co-stars in a scene with Boseman, as Marshall, who goes to the bridge to reflect and gaze at the water.
Executive producer Chris Bongirne was impressed with local hospitality, recalling a Russell Street neighbor who came out with a box of granola bars to share with the crew.
“That doesn’t happen,” said Bongirne. “People are very welcoming.”