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Production Crews caught in middle of N.Y. disaster

By Jeffrey R. Sipe

NEW YORK -- September 11, 2001 was not a day many film crews chose to shoot in New York. But for those who did, it proved to be a day like no other.

Director Todd Solondz was escorted at the Marine Ocean Terminal across the river from Manhattan in New Jersey, shooting his next fim, "Far From Heaven." The terminal, a former miliray facility, was commanded by the government and used as a site from which some relief agencies directed their activities. Solondz and his Killer Films crew took a three-day leave from the site before they were allowed to resume work.

Producer Andy Fierberg of Double A Films had returned from Toronto to New York on Sept. 10, ready to resume work on his company's Ireland-based feature "Coney Island Baby" when the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center put a halt to his plans. The film's director, Amy Hobby, was unable to leave London for Los Angeles, where reshoots had been scheduled. The film's crew and equipment where stuck in Ireland. A soundstage near the company's headquarters became a triage center. "We had gotten Angelo Badalamenti to do the music, but we weren't able to get him into the city," Fierberg said.

The most dramatic experience was that of independent filmmaker Roberto Monticello, who was wrapping work on "Psychopathis Sexualis" behind the courthouses in Lower Manhattan when the planes struck the twin towers.

Monticello and his gaffer, both trained paramedics, rushed to the scene with the entire crew, following the New York policeman who had been assigned to their location shoot. Monticello did not leave the scene until four days later, sleeping briefly every night in the production truck.

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