Dix Hills was alive with the sound of “Sisters.” So were Huntington, Bayville, Hicksville, Bethpage and Uniondale when production of the Tina Fey-Amy Poehler comedy, opening Friday, shot all over the Island in summer 2014, returning again for reshoots in January. Not bad for a film set in Orlando, Florida.
“We got really lucky in this one neighborhood,” says location manager Ronnie Kupferwasser, speaking of the Dix Hills locale where director Jason Moore shot exteriors and some interiors of a house that sisters Fey and Poehler grew up in the story, and in which they’re throwing a last-hurrah blowout now that their parents have decided to sell the home. “Good midcentury modern houses, which was the look we were aiming for,” Kupferwasser, 42, says about the Etna Lane residence. “And we stumbled onto this one neighborhood with one house after another that was perfect.”
And he does mean perfect. “The house we picked was up for sale and there was not a family living there, so we didn’t have to worry about displacing a family for a month or so,” he says. The production rented parking space at Five Towns College, about a mile away, to use as a base camp, and shuttled crew to the location. “Since we knew we’d be in a residential area for so long,” Kupferwasser says, “we thought it’d be more appropriate not to leave big trucks and campers parked in front of neighbors’ homes.” The crew ate lunch in the college’s gymnasium.
“Sisters” also gave Kupferwasser — whose films include “Black Swan” and Will Smith’s upcoming “Collateral Beauty” — a chance to use a location he had scouted “a few years earlier, an office complex out in Uniondale that has an incredible atrium,” he says, referring to RXR Plaza. “I thought one day I’d have a movie that would fit the specifics of this location. I showed it to our production designer [Richard Hoover] and he loved it. There are palm trees in the atrium that screamed Florida, and we turned it into a Florida airport. It’s so tricky to film in a real airport.”
Other locations included Delco Plaza in Hicksville, where the movie — which filmed under screenwriter Paula Pell’s original title, “The Nest” — shot scenes at the closeout chain Big Lots and at a beauty-supply store. It also shot “a day or two up in Bayville,” Kupferwasser says. “We had a couple of scenes out there — I think three locations in one day. Houses.” The party scene of the trashing of the childhood home took place on a soundstage at Gold Coast Studios in Bethpage.
A two-day reshoot in January, with which Kupferwasser wasn’t involved, took place in and around the Jon Megaris salon on Main Street in Huntington. “There was another salon in Huntington we filmed in,” Kupferwasser says. “I guess I’ll know [when I see the film] if they reshot that scene or if there are two different salons.”
The film also shot in Rockland and Westchester counties. But Dix Hills sounds like Kupferwasser’s favorite locale. “We made friends with all the neighbors,” he says. “My experience is that there’s always one neighbor who opposes film production on the block. We didn’t have one person like that!”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the filming location of the film's party scene.