BY MICHAEL RICONDA
Garnerville – Now that Sparky’s Diner in Garnerville has been confirmed as a filming location the latest film collaboration between Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, the restaurant and surrounding community have shown enthusiasm and eagerness for information on the shoot.
Filming for “True Story,” which will likely begin in early April, is set to occur in and around Sparky’s Diner on Ramapo Road in Garnerville. Movie representatives are expected to contact the restaurant later this week with an exact time and date for the shoot, but no set schedule has been announced and filming could begin as early as later this month.
Local residents and diner employees said they are looking forward to the shoot. Restaurant owner and manager Jeannie Nicolakis explained it has attracted attention and congratulations from adjacent communities all over Rockland County and North Jersey.
“People are so thrilled that somebody local would host these people to do a movie,” Nicolakis said. “A lot of good things have happened in this place, and this is just one of them.” Nicolakis further explained the film scouts were not local, but rather discovered the diner after several months of searching for an ideal location.
“The feedback we’re getting from the public has been excellent,” staffer Laurie Murdock said. “Everybody is getting excited about it, but we’re kind of in the dark, too. We’re just going with the flow. They’ll give us a call and let us know when they’re going to be here, and that’s pretty much all we know.”
Many people have been asking about the opportunity to be extras, but information on this has not been released. Murdock said the restaurant didn’t have information at this time on the possible use of local residents as extras.
West Haverstraw Mayor John F. Ramundo expressed optimism about filming in his village. He noted that the crew will be required to work with both town and state police and the Department of Public Works before it begins to film to ensure the safety and well-being of West Haverstraw residents.
“It’s a very busy area, traffic-wise,” Ramundo said.
Ramundo assigned Trustees Robert D’Amelio and Frances Nardi as liaisons between the moviemakers and town government, though most communication has been via email with the town’s deputy clerk.
Town of Haverstraw Supervisor Howard T. Phillips pointed out that Haverstraw has hosted a number of movies and television shows, including “Ragtime” and an episode of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” Phillips explained the town typically works with moviemakers so long as town police and other staff are reimbursed for their use and anticipated no problems with the shoot.
“We like them coming here,” Phillips explained. “We think it’s good for local businesses.”
The film, which is being produced by Pitt and directed by Rupert Goold, is based upon the memoirs of Michael Finkel, a New York Times journalist whose identity was stolen by Christian Longo, a former fugitive who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for the murder of his wife and children. Longo will be played by actor James Franco, while Felicity Jones will play Finkel’s girlfriend.