HE GOT GAME
About The Production
Principal photography began on location in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York on July 28, l 997
Principal photography began on location in Coney Island, Brooklyn,
New York on July 28, l 997. Filmmaker Spike Lee wrote the story
with Coney Island as the physical acting and, true to form, Lee's
penchant for depicting reality in his motion pictures brought
him to the famed streets, basketball courts and schools to realize
his vision for Touchstone Pictures' "He Got Game."
"With Coney Island, you get some great visual images of the
amusement park's Wonder Wheel and The Cyclone, the beach and the
Atlantic Ocean," notes Spike Lee while discussing his choice
of filming location. "There is also a kind of weathered and
rundown look to many of the buildings that fit with the
story and the design of the film. We wanted Coney Island and the
locale to be a character in this film ... not just the amusement
park, but also the housing projects as well "
"Coney Island has produced many basketball legends from playground
courts," explains producer Jon Kilik, who reteams with Spike
Lee as a producer on their eighth feature together. "The
courts are famous for having some of the greatest basketball players
in New York City and the nation."
Players, such as NBA star Stephon Marbury, have come from Coney
Island and its famous O'Dwyer Gardens court. "There is, of
course, the real 'Garden' court," explains Jon Kilik. "But
rather than interrupt what normally happens there, we found o
nearby court that was not used very much and created our own Garden
out of that one."
"Spike wanted a reality, not just with the basketball playing,
but also with the locations where the playing takes place,"
continues Kilik. "Whether it was at the famed Lincoln High
School, on the streets or in the playgrounds, we treated all of
the locations as very sacred places. Lincoln High School has a
great reputation for producing some fantastic basketball talents.
The playgrounds where we shot the opening credit sequence have
a legendary status as well. It was with a great deal of respect
that Spike went to each of these places to try to not only create
a reality for the movie, but also to preserve and document the
great history of those famed courts.
"Spike is from Brooklyn and he likes to film in the New York
area," Kilik notes. "We do a lot of preparation with
the community and the Mayor's office before filming to ensure
that the residents and the filmmakers can live and work together.
We renovated a playground with new backboards and the repaving
of the basketball court. We tried to make our fictional locations
as realistic as possible and shot most of the film at actual locations,
instead of building studio sets. We brought the entire production
to Coney Island so that it became completely interwoven with the
In addition to Jon Kilik's ongoing producing relationship
with the filmmaker, Spike Lee has also previously collaborated
numerous times with director of photography Malik Hassan Sayeed,
production designer Wynn Thomas, editor Barry Alexander Brown
and costume designer Sandra Hernandez.
"There is a very deep, mutual respect," notes Kilik,
speaking about the association of the filmmakers. ''I think there
is a communication that is familiar and a respect for the quality
of work that each individual brings to the productions. These
are people who have grown together and have a shared sensibility.
They also add things to Spike's extraordinary vision, and he really
values their contribution."
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