VIDEO: On the set of ‘Back In The Day,’ starring Alec Baldwin
Movie shows off Brooklyn old and new
William DeMeo fondly recalls the days when growing up in Brooklyn meant playing stickball in the streets, sitting out on the stoop until late at night and entire neighborhoods coming together for block parties in the summer.
He prefers those days to the current ones, where Facebook has become the new stoop and mothers are more likely to call their kids in via text message than poking their heads out the front door.
Brooklyn has undergone significant changes since the days when DeMeo grew up on the streets of Bensonhurst, and it is those cultural changes that he’s trying highlight in his upcoming movie “Back in the Day.”
The cast includes a long list of stars — among them Alec Baldwin, Danny Glover, Michael Madsen, Shannen Doherty and Mike Tyson — and is being shot all over the borough, from Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Greenpoint to Sheepshead Bay and, of course, Bensonhurst.
“Growing up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, where I’m from, I just wanted to show how it was back in the day,” DeMeo said. “I just wanted to show the difference between Brooklyn then and how it is now.”
DeMeo, who wrote and stars in “Back in the Day,” teamed up with director Paul Borghese, whom he worked with on other films such as “Once Upon a Time in Brooklyn” and “Searching for Bobby D,” to tell the story of Anthony Rodriguez, a half Italian, half Puerto Rican boxer from Bensonhurst. The story jumps back and forth between 1989 and today.
“It starts off with him winning [a boxing match] and then it goes back to when he was a kid and all the racial tension he dealt with — all of the stuff with the mafia in the background of the neighborhood,” DeMeo said. “It shows how the mob was once very big in the neighborhood and how the mob is not as strong at this point.”
Despite the many changes Brooklyn has undergone, Borghese said parts of the borough are perfect for shooting a movie like this, as walking down some streets is like walking into the past.
“I’m really excited about shooting in Brooklyn again because it’s so colorful, it’s so rich in culture and design,” Borghese said. “You have old world architecture and new world architecture here. There are blocks in Brooklyn where as long as there are no signs that say Wi-Fi here or ATMs or muni-meters, then we’re in good shape.”
DeMeo loves working in Brooklyn and jokes that nobody shoots more movies in the borough than he does — except maybe Spike Lee. It gives him a chance to immerse himself in his roots and also offers opportunities to catch up with old friends who aren’t shy about stopping by the set like they did during a recent shoot at Romanoff Restaurant in Sheepshead Bay.
“I support Brooklyn so much,” DeMeo said with pride. “I actually shot part of the movie on the street where I grew up on and my mom still lives. It’s great to come back here and have the support of my friend and family. People are very welcoming whenever I bring another movie to Brooklyn.”
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