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200 CIGARETTES

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 Ant hairdo."

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.

Says Cost

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