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Heights stands in for D.C.

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With a little bit of paint, some movie magic and the blessing of the historic preservation society, directors Joel and Ethan Coen transformed State Street into Georgetown.

Not only did the big-screen brothers paint three brownstones pastel colors, but they built two phony facades on existing buildings, added decorative shutters on several others and built a brick wall out of plywood to make the Heights look more like the Washington, DC neighborhood that is the setting for their upcoming film, “Burn After Reading.”

Some local residents were ticked off, not just because the production has already robbed the block of most of its parking spaces, but also because they didn’t like the idea of Brooklyn standing in for someplace else.

“In the beginning, everyone was asking ‘Why don’t they film in Georgetown?’” said Brooklyn Heights resident Kenny Gross, who has lived on the State Street block between Clinton and Court for 42 years.

“But it’s only temporary and the movie people have been very nice.”

And the movie people love the locals too.

“The people of State Street have been wonderful,” said Kat Delaney, Location Assistant for the film.

Delaney said transforming Brooklyn Heights was easier than dragging the whole production to Georgetown for one shoot — not that it was her decision.

“It was the brothers’ choice,” Delaney said. “They live in New York, we’re only shooting at this location for three days, so why go to Georgetown for three days when we’re using a studio here.”

The movie will start filming on State Street next week and stars Brad Pitt, George Clooney, John Malkovich and Frances McDormand. The shooting on State Street will start on Monday and wrap up by Friday, when everything will go back to normal.

“They finish shooting and then we’ll start tearing everything down — I mean, we’ll start carefully deconstructing everything — the following Monday,” said Paul Weathered, a set dresser for the film.

Filming actually started a few blocks away this week on Hicks Street between Love Lane and Clark Street. On Wednesday, gawkers of both sexes waited patiently for a glimpse of their favorite heartthrob — Clooney (Pitt wasn’t on set). The rubberneckers were disappointed though; when Clooney emerged from the interior set for a lunch break, he was whisked away in a car.

Malkovich, by contrast, was friendly with the crowd, posing for a picture with one fan between takes and hanging around on the street with the commoners when he wasn’t on camera.

Barbara Edwards Delsman, whose Hicks Street home is being used for the shoot, has been pleased with the result so far. She got a new kitchen out of the deal, plus the grips repainted her parlor.

She and her husband did get to meet all the stars of the film, “though of course they are very busy filming,” Delsman said.

— with Anne Smythe

Updated 4:32 pm, July 9, 2018
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