About the Production
"200 Cigarettes" shot on location at night in New York City in the spring of 1998
"200 Cigarettes" shot on location
at night in New York City in the spring of 1998. Many of the cast
members and filmmakers have strong connections to the city through
residence, upbringing or work and were impressed with the film's
authentic depiction of the locale and time period.
Says Courtney Love, who once lived in the East Village, "I
like the way this movie catches a moment in time in this city.
I think 1981 is a really cool period to revisit."
"I enjoyed the script and thought it would be fun to come
to New York and work with my brother," says Ben Affleck,
"so here I am playing a bartender with a poor man's Adam
The East Village of today doesn't look all that different than
it did in 1981 -- although today it is cleaner and less uncertain.
Director Garcia, who has a wealth of experience directing theater
in New York, notes, "Today the East Village is a lot 'groovier'
and more gentrified. Back in the early '80s it was a lot funkier.
At the same time there was more life, imagination and possibility
downtown; there was risky, wild, remarkable art on the streets
and in the bars, art that defined the times."
A lot of the action in "200 Cigarettes" takes place
in bars, the interiors of which are dressed in '80s motif. Outside,
street corners were dressed with flyers advertising acts from
the burgeoning punk rock and performance art scenes.
Cars from the period -- including a fabulous souped-up Checker
cab -- are seen throughout the film. "We tried to capture
the edgy look of the early '80s," says Garcia, "but
my vision of that era is clearly romanticized. I chose to remember
it somewhat more colorful, with more pop elements than there were
at the time. This serves the comedy, the romance and the exaggerated
anticipation of New Year's Eve."
Coney Island High, a hard-core bar in the East Village, is the
setting for a punk rock club where Val (Ricci) and Stephie (Hoffmann)
finally encounter the threatening boys who've been following them.
The scene plays out against a performance by the contemporary
band Girls Against Boys, hired by the production to play a riveting
cover of the Earth, Wind and Fire hit "Boogie Wonderland."
Around 150 background actors are dressed in full leather and put
through hair and makeup for the perfect '80s punk look. As Ricci,
Hoffmann, Affleck and Diaz run through their lines, the club rocks
to a sea of slam dancers for four hours straight.
Another key location in the film is Leshko's, a rather famous
East Village coffee shop, where Lucy (Love) and Kevin (Rudd) talk
seriously about having sex.
The night this scene was shot a terrible rainstorm drenches New
York. Space inside is tight. Even with the camera outside the
coffee shop -- under a tarp and framing the booth where Love and
Rudd act out the scene -- there's barely room to breathe. But
the intimacy of the location seems to suit the tension in the
dialog perfectly. After making a loud proposition, Lucy, nearly
shouting, says to Kevin, "You think I'm a slut!" Almost
shouting, Kevin replies, "I don't think they heard you on
St. Marks Place!"
Other performers appearing in the film who 'rock' include Elvis
Costello and Buster Poindexter, both of whom recall playing New
Year's Eve gigs in 1981. Poindexter played at MTV's inaugural
New Year's Eve Ball while Costello performed at the Palladium,
just a few blocks from where he filmed his scene for the movie.
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