Motorists seeking a detour around downtown Rosendale on the first morning of this year’s Street Festival, on Saturday, July 20, may be in for a hulk of a problem, depending on the pace of filming an automobile accident scene for the upcoming HBO miniseries I Know This Much Is True. The Rosendale Town Board gave conditional approval last week to the site plan for the shoot, scheduled to take place over three successive nights, July 17 to 19, on Binnewater Road. The road is often used as an alternative to Route 213 during the Rosendale Street Festival, during which the Main Street business district is closed off to auto traffic.
“We’re doing a large car crash on Binnewater,” HBO assistant location manager Nicholas Pray explained to the board at its June 5 meeting. “We’ll probably do it a hundred times.” The stunt will require building a rig around an existing hollow, dead tree located on property at 155 Binnewater Road, Pray said, and require closure of the section of the road between August Lane and Lucas Avenue from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on the three nights scheduled. Twin Lakes Resort in the Town of Hurley will be used as the production’s “base camp” during this phase of shooting.
The board’s main concern was what would happen if the Binnewater Road shoot did not wrap on time in the wee hours of Saturday morning before the festival. “That end of our town gets all the traffic diverted from Main Street,” town supervisor Jeanne Walsh pointed out. “Binnewater needs to be open by 6 a.m. There’s no other place to put a detour…Also, the police are needed down on Main Street after that time.” Pray assured the board that the worst-case scenario would involve trucks loading off-road at the shooting location on the morning in question. “We work with a guy whose mentality is, ‘We shoot till it’s done.’ But nobody really wants to be there at 6 a.m.”
The nighttime auto wreck involves one of the identical twin brothers, Dominick and Thomas Birdsey, portrayed by Mark Ruffalo, who is also executive producing the series. According to Pray, the actor will have to return to the accident scene in the autumn as the other twin. “He has to come back fat and bald,” the location manager noted.
Based on the 1998 novel of the same name by Wally Lamb, I Know This Much Is True is set primarily in the 1990s, with flashbacks to earlier decades of the 20th century, which are being filmed mainly in Poughkeepsie’s Little Italy neighborhood. Thomas suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, and Dominick struggles to have him released from a mental hospital when he learns that patients are being abused. His efforts lead to unnerving revelations about family history, some of them involving sets of twins from earlier generations. Also in the cast are Melissa Leo, Rosie O’Donnell, Archie Panjabi, Imogen Poots, Juliette Lewis and Kathryn Hahn. Derek Cianfrance, whose 2012 movie The Place Beyond the Pines was also shot in the Hudson Valley, is the screenwriter and director.
The production of the miniseries has already run into a serious hitch, when a major fire on May 9 consumed an automobile dealership on Main Street in Ellenville where a scene was to be shot, destroying a fleet of vintage cars assembled for the shoot. Nevertheless, production continues close to schedule, according to Pray, who said that working in cooperation with host municipalities is an important part of his job. “You tell us how to do it,” he told the board. “We are your guests.”
The Town Board voted unanimously to approve the site plan, contingent upon provision of a certificate of insurance and approval from local police and fire officials.