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Period drama The Alienist films Budapest as New York

The Alienist

Period crime drama The Alienist filmed Budapest as 1896 New York City and follows a criminal psychologist – the ‘alienist’ of the title – as he investigates grisly murders.

Production company Anonymous Content considered filming in the real New York – sometimes a prohibitively expensive location – and in the Canadian city of Montreal, before settling on Budapest with servicing from Mid Atlantic Films.

“We had our production offices, workshops, stages and back lot and Origo Studios, which is roughly 12 km from central Budapest – this accounted for roughly 50% of shooting days,” says Peter Nightingale, the series’ unit production manager, in comments to KFTV. 

Origo Studios offers nine stages that span nearly 200,000 sq ft overall. The facility has recently hosted the acclaimed sci-fi sequel Blade Runner 2049, action movie Atomic Blonde and Ron Howard’s feature adaptation of the Dan Brown novel Inferno.

A set of New York’s Williamsburg Bridge was built at Origo, as was a build of Castle Garden, a sandstone fort at the southern tip of Manhattan, which in 1896 had only recently closed as an immigration centre. A series of New York street sets and building interiors were constructed on Origo’s main back lot.

“In total we shot for 184 days across two units,” Nightingale tells KFTV. “We had ‘Empire’ unit shooting from Day One for 125 days and then another unit called ‘Liberty’, which started mid-shoot and shot for 59 days.”

Much of the shoot also took place on location in central Budapest, with scenes also filmed in rural areas an hour or so outside the capital.

While the production team on Blade Runner 2049 used parts of Budapest as stand-ins for industrial areas of a future California, action movie Atomic Blonde doubled the city for 1980s Germany and even built a 250-foot-long replica of the Berlin Wall. 

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in Hungary.

Image: TNT