PATERSON, NJ – The Great Falls is no stranger to artistic attention. William Carlos Williams described the falls in his epic poem, "Paterson." The falls also were featured on the "The Sopranos" HBO television series. And, of course, countless paintings depict the natural wonder of the landmark.
Now, once again, the falls will be in the limelight.
The award-winning CBS drama, "The Good Wife," filmed footage for an upcoming episode at the Great Falls on January 27.
How did the show end up in Paterson? In search of a location for the shoot, David Schoner, associate director of the New Jersey Film Commission, contacted then-police chief James Wittig, who had worked very closely with Schoner over the years, finding him locations within the city for various film productions.
“I try to help move the process for any film companies or TV shows or anything along that line that wants to do production work within the city,” said Wittig, who has since retired. “David contacted me and advised me that the Good Wife’s assistant manager was looking for a couple sites and asked if I’d propose a couple sites in Paterson. We met up by the Falls and went up by the foot bridge. He did his part as a location scout and documented the area.”
Schoner then brought the materials back to the director of the show and discussed the possibilities of film production.
When the producers of the show saw the falls, they "fell in love with it," according to Erik Lowe, chairman of Paterson's municipal utilities authority.
Executive producer, Brooke Kennedy said the reason for choosing the Great Falls as a location was, "It's beautiful."
The sheer volume and depth of the falls made the location a hit, according to Schoner. “When filmmakers are looking to capture an image, they want something that is going to grab the viewer’s eye,” he said. “The Paterson Falls does that.”
Because the script itself had a dramatic story line, it was important to have a dramatic shoot, Schoner said. The Falls were filmed from a bunch of different places, but mostly on the walkway bridge, shooting from above. “They were trying to show the height from the Falls,” Schoner said.
The ambiance of the day also added to the effect. “It was gray and the clouds were graphic,” Schoner said. “They had rain so water was tumbling over the Falls.”
Lowe, who was there the day of the shoot, said the scene was a reenactment of a suicide and the set was rigged with a platform built for the jump. In the context of the show, the scene is supposed to take place in the in the Chicago area.
Actress Archie Panjabi, who plays Kalinda Sharma was on the location, so were doubles and stunt doubles. However, no one actually jumped. The actual jump scene is being filmed this week at Kew Gardens Studio in Queens.
Lowe considers the media attention a big deal for the city. "It lets others in the entertainment industry know that we have this rare jewel that's accessible," he said. "People will want to come. Every day it makes my heart swell that people come to see this national treasure."
Schoner added, "Paterson's been amazing to shoot." He also raved about the cooperation of the municipality and that "the chief is a fantastic ambassador."
Wittig said, "He [Schoner] did his part as a location scout and documented the area ... brought back the director of the show. What was surprising ... the department heads that came out to see ... they couldn't believe it was thirty-five minutes out of New York City. I'm sure it's going to draw a lot of attention and
visitors to the area."
When asked whether there would be additional shootings of "The Good Wife" in Paterson, Kennedy said, "You never know. It was a wonderful experience and if called for, we would do it."
Lowe concluded that the city of Paterson is always actively looking for production companies to shoot on location, not only at the Falls, but throughout the city. “Multi-cultural affairs is looking,’’ he said. “The police and fire departments are also at the disposal of these production companies.’’