From the beginning, Ben
Younger thought it essential to shoot Boiler Room on location in his
native New York, traversing from the manicured lawns of Flatbush and the mean
streets of Queens to the lavish mansions of Long Island.
"This is Ben's world,
where he's comfortable, and it's where he could best capture the flavor of the
film," explains Jennifer Todd. "The film is not only about the
financial world but it's about people living on the fringes of Manhattan and
what the dream of the city means to them. You couldn't capture that anywhere
Shooting a first-time film in
New York could have been a disaster, but Younger turned it into an inspiration.
Comments Suzanne Todd: "New York is traditionally a very expensive place to
make movies, but we looked at it a different way: making it work by being
creative and being inventive. The sense of the city is really there."
Boiler Room deftly
captures New York's ethnic neighborhood flavor, then delves into the polar
opposite world of the boiler rooms. Production designer Anne Stuhler took on the
challenge of recreating the electrified essence of the boiler room atmosphere
for audiences. "I wanted to capture the idea that these places are totally
removed from the real world, that it is a special environment where these guys
become different people than they are on the outside," explains Stuhler.
"The boiler rooms feel
very stark, cold, separate from the rest of society," she continues.
"And they are also very temporary, because they have to be ready to shut
down at a moment's notice. Therefore, we had to design a place that is
cluttered with phones and papers and computers but that looks like it could be
moved in two or three hours."
Stuhler visited a few true boiler rooms as well as more sophisticated brokerage
operations on Wall Street. "The main thing that struck me about both was
the amount of constant information that was going on - phones, faxes, paper
everywhere. It was really kind of amazing, the most unusual work set-up I've
seen," she notes.
On the heels of her research,
Stuhler took an empty space in Garden City and transformed it into a bustling
boiler room, where chaos reigns as the money rolls in. In addition to creating a
visceral sense of the boiler room environment, Stuhler worked closely with
director Ben Younger on the film's color scheme. "Ben had this idea that
the boiler room should always be a cool blue," she explains, "so when
the characters walk into it it's quite clear they've entered a different
world. By contrast, Seth is in touch with something outside the boiler room that
is much warmer, so we kept his palette really warm."
Costume designer Julia Caston
continued that trend in her work. She, too, embarked on research into this
little-known corner of the financial world. In her travels, she discovered that
each New York brokerage house has its own set of rules. "In some you can
only wear a white shirt, in others you can only wear cream and it still others
it is a crime to wear a pink shirt," she explains.
Caston decided to buck Wall
Street tradition for the boiler room and let boys be boys, wearing their own
street version of what they figured wealthy traders with no income limits would
wear. "Ultimately," admits Caston, "my inspiration came from what
young Hollywood agents wear, real slick outfits that depict young men who are
trying to be fashionable to the extreme."
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