The shooting of ROUNDERS took place in and around the New York
area, in various neighborhoods throughout Manhattan, as well as
Brooklyn, New Jersey and Westchester. By shooting in these locations,
Dahl was able to capture the authenticity of neighborhoods along
the poker circuit, in which the players make their rounds. Additionally,
to add to the realism, the production moved to Atlantic City for
a week to shoot the pivotal scenes when Mike and Worm stake themselves
into the games at the Taj Mahal Casino. Described by the film's
technical advisor/poker expert Mike Selza as "the east coast
Mecca of the big games," it was at the Taj Mahal where Damon
and Norton's characters play against the current, world champion,
Johnny Chan. Chan, who makes a cameo appearance in the film (portraying
himself), was impressed by the film's authenticity. Like Damon's
character, Chan is passionate about the game. His skill has thwarted
him into the highest ranks of players, culminating in his victory
as World Champion of the 1997 and 1998 World Series of Poker tournaments.
While Chan will agree that the stakes at the Taj Mahal are the
highest on the east coast, he affirms that the World Series in
Las Vegas is "the most recognized tournament in the world."
Therefore, it is a testament to their merits as players, that
both Damon and Norton have been invited to participate this year
at the annual tournament. Chan's advise for the newcomers is to
"just play for fun and have a good time. If you get lucky
you'll win it, if you don't get lucky, at least you get to meet
the best poker players in the world."
To create the look of the back room poker games, Director of Photography
Jean-Yves Escoffier ("Good Will Hunting," Leos Carax's
"Les Amants du Pont Neuf," Cline Serreau's "Trois
Hommes Et Un Couffin" and currently shooting Tim Robbins'
"The Cradle Will Rock" with Susan Sarandon in New York)
set to create the authentic mood of the poker clubs along the
New York circuit through evocative, yet subtle camera angles and
realistic lighting. Joining him on the creative team are Production
Designer Rob Pearson ("Red Rock West," "Unforgettable")
and Costume Designer Terry Dresbach ("Palmetto," "The
Last Seduction", "Red Rock West"), both of whom
have worked with Dahl in the past, and were pleased to be rejoined
with the director. "I was drawn to the picture initially,
by my loyalty to John Dahl," comments Pearson. "I talked
to John [Dahl] very early on about a very rich, deep dark movie
with a lot of black. Rembrandt was one of our lighting references
and mood models. I wanted the movie to be very saturated and rich
with reds for interior spaces. I thought it very important to
give this movie a look, a visual bond that held it all in place,
held it firmly in the film language we have come to understand
as New York." For Dresbach, the goal was similar, "I
went to some of the poker clubs, and saw that it's its own world.
We transferred that look to the style and colors of the clothes
in the film. The whole look of the film is very rich. Almost like
a Renaissance painting. There are lots of darks, and I know both
Rob [Pearson] and I try to use a lot of red. People wear red valor
and bright colors. It's a very rich, rich world."
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