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Locations and Fishing
The eight-year gestation of the film version of TRUE STORY finally came to fruition when principal photography began in Warwick, NY on March 8, 2013. Although only a few days' worth of the film's action takes place in New York City-specifically the scenes in and around The New York Times offices-the decision was made to film entirely in New York state. The woods and farmland outside of Warwick stood in for Montana, while coastal Oregon was played by numerous small towns within an hour's driving distance of New York, including Piermont, Sparkill, Bayville, and Port Jefferson. (One day of filming also took place in Cancun for the sequence depicting Christian Longo's arrest in Mexico.)

In addition to snowy exteriors, Warwick also was the location for the Montana home of Jill and Mike. A kind of contemporary log cabin with spacious, open-planned interiors, it was ideal for filming. The company spent eight days there. "I think the most challenging thing was probably to wrap our heads around how to do Montana in New York," says production designer Jeremy Hindle. "Trying to find exteriors and a cabin was going to be really tricky, but then it finally worked out." To add authenticity to the cabin interiors, Hindle found trinkets and souvenirs of the sort that Finkel used to bring back from his trips all over the world, and Finkel himself contributed a box or two of his personal belongings and work-related paraphernalia. "Jill has very little space in that house," says Hindle. "Most of it is Mike's. It's his space. It's his art. It's his world. It's his office and she has this little nook in the corner; a piano area; a knitting area. And she lives there all year and he's traveling around the world. But it's Mike, who does dominate the space."

The film also shot in New York City itself. The glass-walled office where Finkel is questioned and ultimately fired by his two editors was actually filmed in the New York Times building on Eighth Avenue and 41st Street, though not in The New York Times' offices. The large, atrium-styled bullpen where Mike works, a spectacularly visual space, was part of John Jay College on New York's far west side. The reading that Mike gives at the end of the film was shot in the popular, historic Rizzoli bookstore on West 57th Street, a landmark townhouse that, unfortunately, has since been demolished.

The prison scenes were filmed at numerous locations. One was in a series of abandoned quarters at a jail facility in Kew Gardens, Queens. Another was a new penitentiary located in Goshen, New York. Its long, sterile white hallways were perfect for the scene in which Mike first visits Longo. Longo's cell, and the visiting room where they have their meetings, were all designed by Hindle and built at the JC Studios in Brooklyn, where the company spent its final week of filming.

It was important to Rupert Goold and to costume designer Cat Thomas that attention be paid to Christian Longo's overall look and appearance. Thomas admits that can be a difficult task with an actor who possesses the film-star looks of James Franco. One solution was the drab, monochromatic, buff-colored suit that Longo wears in the trial scenes. "We talked a lot about the color of the suit," says Thomas, "and, you know, it's probably the closest to the reality of what Longo actually wore in real life. We liked it; it makes him a little washed out. There's something kind of off about it."

Spending eight weeks in this world of unexplained, unfathomable evil can be an experience that is difficult for any actor to shake. And according to Michael Finkel, "The story never ends with Chris Longo." More than ten years after the fact, Longo is still in Finkel's life, for better or worse. "Sometimes a year will go by where there's silence," says Finkel, "and then there'll be a relative flurry of phone calls. And usually if there's been a long silence and then the phone rings, and I see the Caller ID and I know it's from the Oregon State Penitentiary, there's this very uncomfortable sort of static, like: "Do I want to pick up this phone?"


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