Story by Kristina Hoti
Residents and local businesses may have noticed some filming activity on Railroad Ave. on Tues., Mar. 5 throughout the morning and afternoon, with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Rand Realty looking more like a Greyhound Bus terminal than a real estate office. Imagine Entertainment and American Saga LLC, with the approval of the Village of Warwick, began setting up at 9 a.m. for the 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. film shoot of a 10-episode miniseries called, “Wu-Tang: An American Saga.”
The show, which will be aired on Hulu, has an estimated September 2019 launch date according to a source onsite, and is about the rise of the popular hip-hop group, Wu-Tang Clan, from Staten Island, NY. The series is factual and follows the group’s history from a very young age.
The shot being filmed on Railroad Ave. depicted a child making a journey to visit his uncle in the year 1980, with the bulk of the filming taking place on the vintage Greyhound bus.
Labeled with destination city Murfreesboro, NC, the bus was parked for the shoot in front of Warwick’s historical train depot building, which temporarily sported the Greyhound logo in place of the current Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty sign.
Rob Coleman represented the production company at a meeting of the Warwick Village Board on Tues., Feb. 19, when the motion was passed to allow filming at the location on Railroad Ave. The request included the closing of the street and sidewalks and the use of parking spaces along Railroad Ave. and in the Chase parking lot across South St., which would accommodate the displaced cars from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Rand Realty.
Coleman assured the Village Board that Railroad Ave. would remain open to passersby, only restricting passage for the quick moments when cameras would be rolling. He even assured that local businesses along Railroad Ave. would not only be fully accessible, but that compensation would be made to them in the event of any loss of business due to the shooting, “to ensure that filming stays positive, and that we would be welcome to come back again, because that’s always a possibility.”
Upon a suggestion from Trustee Eileen Patterson, Coleman stated the commitment of the film crew to utilize the local restaurants and local sources for food procurement for the crew of 75 throughout the shoot, noting that they planned on lunching at Grappa. He also said that they would be happy to take advantage of the local Mardi-Gras fundraiser taking place that evening.
When asked by Trustee Barry Cheney what made Warwick the best choice for them, Coleman explained that about two years ago he worked on a feature film with Jim Gaffigan that was filmed in the Town of Warwick.
“On that occasion, we all were at the Roadhouse, we were at Halligan’s, we were at G’s Restaurant, we were everywhere in downtown for over a week, and so when I got the script and it had the small-town look and image, I immediately thought of Railroad Ave. and everyone just said that was it,” said Coleman.
Coleman explained that his company was very community-minded, and was open to welcoming people to come by and watch the shoot, even encouraging the local schools to bring students in to learn about filming and production. True to his word, the Warwick Valley High School film and production class came by on the day of shooting to watch part of the process.
The episode filmed this week was the first script in the Wu-Tang Clan series and Coleman noted that the same location appears in the third script, so it is likely that the film crew may be returning to the Village of Warwick.
“Once you film somewhere once and have a great experience,” he said, “you always want to try to come back again, because you know the terrain, you know the surroundings. It’s a great village.”