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BlacKkKlansman filmed New York as Colorado


Spike Lee doubled New York for Colorado Springs in BlacKkKlansman, which was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and was also a Best Film nominee at the BAFTAs.

The movie stars John David Washington and Adam Driver, and is based on the true story of an African American detective who, in the 1970s, infiltrated his local branch of the Ku Klux Klan.

With the real Colorado Springs an impractical filming location, Lee and his team recreated exteriors of the mid-western setting in Ossining, a town 35 miles north of New York City.    

Given that the film’s main police precinct is a central part of the story, the production team decided to build the setting on sound stages in Brooklyn. They sought a run-down look that made the place appear to pre-date even the story’s 1970s time frame. 

“We made it a classic mid-century construction,” said Curt Beech, the film’s production designer, in comments to Indiewire. “The intelligence department in a police precinct wouldn’t have been nearly that size. But that’s what was scripted and that’s what it needed: a big space for lots of people to work.”

So-called ‘practical’ lighting was used for the sets rather than lighting for specific camera set-ups, in order to accommodate Spike Lee’s brisk filming style.

Interiors of a house belonging to one of the story’s key Klan members were shot in a real home that was dressed in a 1950s style to represent the character’s backward views.

Upstate New York locations are sometimes popular for filmmakers wanting visuals that appear rural but that are still relatively close to Manhattan. A high-profile recent example has been John Krasinski’s horror hit A Quiet Place, which shot on location in the town of Pawling, 75 miles from New York City.

The BAFTAs will be held in London on 10 February and the Academy Awards will be in Los Angeles two weeks later.

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

Images: Focus Features/Universal Pictures