Welcome to part two of our interview with Jennifer Dehghan, the production designer on Netflix holiday romcom Dash & Lily. Last week, we brought you the first part. Read on to learn behind-the-scenes details.
She describes the impressive way they filmed the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights in Brooklyn, how they staged a Jonas Brothers concert at a newly opened Hudson Yards, and the things her team did to add wintery touches since they filmed in the fall.
And if you missed it, check out our Guide to Dash & Lily‘s New York City.
Since Dash & Lily was filmed in October of 2019, how did you capture the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights in Brooklyn?
Dyker Heights was really tough to plan because we couldn’t get a permit for December when the houses are lit for the season. I scouted the area on a Friday night by myself and spent hours walking around the neighborhood trying to figure it out. We were going to have to recreate it, and I mapped out what I thought was achievable, what it would cost, and when I would need the money.
Next, our location manager, Joe Sevey, got in touch with the homeowners. We collaborated with some of them and they put us in touch with the people who hang the lights and ornaments every year. We paid those guys to decorate the houses the way they always do and got everything up early including the Nutcracker House. That’s where we shot Dash’s scene with the old couple taking a picture, holding hands, and kissing.
For other houses that don’t usually participate in the annual display but were going to be in our frame, Joe got permission for us to decorate them ourselves. In early December, before the neighborhood actually put up all of their lights, my set decorating team went out over a weekend and decorated a four-way intersection and a couple of cross streets for filming. Dyker Heights is a really important turning point in the story for Dash, and bringing it to life was a big accomplishment.
You used to live in NYC. Do you have a special connection to any of the locations where you filmed?
The Village East Cinema — where Dash goes to see a fictional Pixar film called Collation — was special for me because it was a real part of my life in New York. It’s heartbreaking that it’s been closed for so long now with COVID. I really hope it can come back. That and The Strand are the heart of NYC, and places in the city that we can’t let go of.
How did you and your team create a snowy winter wonderland on location when it was only October?
We planned a snow story throughout filming with a special effects snow timeline. The first snow starts to fall outside of Macy’s in Episode 2 after Dash steals the hat from Santa. When love is hopeful and promising, like outside of Ms. Basil E’s home in Episode 4, we had a beautiful dusting on everything.
When the love story gets darker and takes a turn for the worse, the snow is slushy, muddy, and dirty. You see that in Episode 3 when Lily runs out of the club underneath Yonah Schimmel’s Knish, slips and falls into a slushy puddle, and loses her boot. That reference was pulled from legendary New York Times photographer, Bill Cunningham. He had this amazing series of photographs whenever there was a blizzard in New York. At times, he would camp out on a corner and watch all the people step off the curb thinking that a puddle looked very shallow, and then they’d sink right into it. They’d pull themselves out and sometimes lose a boot. It was kind of mean but also amazing.
In Episode 5 when Lily goes to the poetry slam at Zinc Bar, we wanted viewers to feel like they were in one of those places in New York that is long and narrow and dark. It’s also really cold outside while steamy and warm inside. Our amazing camera scenic artist, Julia Goldman, made five or six samples of window treatments with different levels of frost, steam, water droplets, and frozen crystals. The treatments were always used to set the tone when filming interiors both on location and on the soundstage.
The final episode includes a scene where Dash goes to find Boomer at a Jonas Brothers concert at Hudson Yards. How did that come together?
Again, Joe Sevey got access to Vessel, the large sculpture at Hudson Yards, for the Jonas Brothers concert scene in Episode 8. At that time, it was a fresh, new space. They weren’t quite done, and they’d never had any filming take place there. Joe somehow managed to get it for us, and it was definitely fun.
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Images courtesy of Netflix