Vanilla Sky – NY Times Magazine

How to Shoot in the Middle of Times Square…

”We had to close off 20 blocks – 20 blocks! No cars, no pedestrians, no public transportation. It had never been done before in Times Square. The shot I wanted is in the beginning of ‘Vanilla Sky,’ and it was the nightmare of a guy who is desperately lonely — can you think of a more vivid nightmare for a guy who wants to be surrounded by people than to be alone in Times Square? Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise, two of the producers, had many conversations with the film commission and the mayor’s office and the Police Department, and then I was brought in. We started rehearsing the shot in every way in side streets uptown, where we were already shooting. We even went into the middle of Times Square when it was filled with people with Tom in a baseball cap and rehearsed on a digital, hand-held camera with a ladder. Then we got the word: ‘We are going to give you four hours, from 4:30 to 8:30 on a Sunday morning early in November. Work quickly. You won’t get one second longer.’ The morning we shot, there were about 200 people on the side streets helping block them off, and they had coffee and food to offer thwarted passers-by. As soon as the first speck of daylight appeared we did seven takes of the crane shot looking down at Tom. Then it was like 10 after 5, so Tom just ran the full extent of Times Square for about three hours while we shot him. By the end of it, people had started to stream into Times Square, and they were cheering for us. It was amazing. I actually think it would be easy to shoot in Times Square during rush hour too. And I could stand around like an old pro and say, ‘I remember when we did this empty.’ ”

Courtesy of NY Times Magazine – By Cameron Crowe, as told to Amy Barrett – November 3, 2002