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Creating a City Within a City
For "The Sorcerer's Apprentice,” production designer Naomi Shohan was tapped by filmmakers to highlight the iconic magnificence of New York City and find the hidden magic as well. "In the early stages, we talked about insinuating that there has always been a presence of sorcery in Manhattan,” says Shohan, "and we talked about where we might find that. In Manhattan, you come upon these miraculous buildings and interiors everywhere you look. So, I was hoping to establish a kind of undercurrent of possibility.

"The Victorian buildings from the turn of the 20th century were particularly beautiful,” Shohan continues, "and they have a poetry about them that lends itself beautifully to sorcery. Other sets have to do with the infrastructure under Manhattan which was being built in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s, which we incorporate in the underground training lab set. I tried to create atmosphere that's at once realistic and has to do with a kind of grubby, visceral feeling of New York City, the shoulder-rubbing, intense density of it all. In New York, you can walk down the street, open a door, and find yourself in a new world…so I liked the idea of walking between worlds.”

Shohan, whose credits include "I Am Legend,” "Tears of the Sun” and "Training Day,” also designed sets of extraordinary detail which were either constructed inside of soundstages at Steiner Studios (site of the former Brooklyn Navy Yard) or within the confines of the 1907 Bedford Armory, also in Brooklyn.

The massive, meticulously detailed underground lab/sorcerer training room set is the site of some of the film's most important sequences, including the "Fantasia” sequence, and was unquestionably Shohan's most ambitious structure created for the film. "In the script, the lab where Dave Stutler conducts his experiments was described as a basement room somewhere,” says Shohan. "From that, I extrapolated that it could be really deep underground, because he's working with incredibly high-voltage equipment, which needs a protective space. Earth is the best insulator, and New York really does have some amazing subterranean spaces which are usually off-limits—beneath Grand Central Station, there's a switching station which dates from the World War II era, and under City Hall, there's an incredibly beautiful subway station that's out of use, arched and very elegant. Our set needed to be interesting enough to sustain many scenes.”

What Shohan created was an old subway turnaround, redolent of old New York, converted into a makeshift laboratory, its interior graced with an arched and tiled dome ceiling, cast-iron walkways and staircases and rusted old elevators. For Dave's lab, the interior is tricked out with scientific paraphernalia, a plasma generator, cages filled with obsolete scientific materials, two huge, rusted generators, Jurassic-age computers with reel-to-reel disks and other detritus of the generations.

A crucial piece of Shohan's design for the underground lab was the Merlin Circle with its seven domains—Space Time, Motion, Matter, Elements, Transformation, Mind and, most importantly, in the center, Gold/Love—which Balthazar conjures up from the cobblestoned floor of the lab. Shohan and her team did considerable research, even consulting a genuine Wiccan to figure out the symbols.

"One of the coolest sets in the movie is the Arcana Cabana,” says director Jon Turteltaub, "which is a store of antiquities, obscurities, oddities and all the things that Balthazar's collected over his millennia of existence. In our heads, it was sort of like the Staples of sorcery, so that when a guy needs a special ring, some special dust and the eye of a newt, he goes to the Arcana Cabana.”

"The iron architecture of late 19th and early 20th century is some of the most beautiful in New York,” says Shohan. "I thought that it wa

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