Helmed by actress-director Mayim Bialik (of ‘The Big Bang Theory‘ fame) in her directorial debut, ‘As They Made Us’ is a poignant and bittersweet drama movie painted with empathy and compassion. The serene familial film revolves around a divorced single mother and her father, struggling with a terminal condition. While our protagonist tries to cope with disparate aspects of her life, such as family, individuality, existential crisis, and freedom, she roots for another chance at love.
The stellar cast ensemble features industry stalwarts such as Dustin Hoffman, Candice Bergen, Dianna Agron, and Simon Helberg. The events in the film take place in urban and suburban settings, occasionally taking us on a retrospective tour to revisit the characters’ past. You may know how challenging it is to depict a certain period in the movie. However, if you seek to identify the filming locations, and discern if the film has a realistic basis, allow us to probe further.
Is As They Made Us Based on a True Story?
‘As They Made Us’ is partially based on a true story. This is quite evident in the film’s depiction of a dysfunctional family, which is quite a relatable experience for people across the globe. At the same time, in our day and age, mental illnesses are not rare in society, but mental health is a topic that is still primarily stigmatized in public. Mayim Bialik directed the movie from her script, while Jonathan Cohen served as a story editor.
While working on the storyline, Bialik was seemingly inspired by her own family. In a conversation with USA Today, the actress and director revealed, “I grew up in a home with mental illness, and that’s something that went back generations on both sides of my family and no one talked about it.” She continued, “As much as there are aspects of my story in this story, many families have a story of one child who’s more engaged than the other, or a child who’s estranged and the other has to pick up the pieces.” Therefore, she wanted to explore that kind of sibling dynamic in this movie and shine a light on the uncertain path that awaits the sibling who stays.
In another interview in early April 2022, Bialik spoke about working with ‘The Big Bang Theory’ co-actor Simon Helberg, who essays the role of Abigail’s brother, Nathan. In her mind, it was an effortless decision to cast the actor in the role since she was already aware of his superior talents. More importantly, because being long-time friends and castmates, Helberg and Bialik understood each other and their respective family situations. This authentic connection translates beautifully in the former’s portrayal of Nathan.
Cinematically, Bialik’s inspiration ranges from Greta Gerwig (‘Lady Bird‘) to Eliza Hittman (‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’). So, she incorporated aspects of her favorite directors into the storyline of this family-oriented drama. When all the ingredients fell in place, the enticing ambiance of the narrative was created. Taking everything into account, the movie is quite realistic and draws inspiration from real life, although the characters remain fictional.
As They Made Us Filming Locations
‘As They Made Us’ was filmed in its entirety in the state of New Jersey, particularly in Bergen County. Principal photography reportedly took place in the summer of 2021. Apart from the enticing eco-geography, the state of New Jersey boasts a massive tax credit incentive package to lure filmmakers and producers to the region.
David Feeney-Mosier, the second unit director of photography of ‘Lady Bird,’ came on board to serve as the cinematographer for this movie. On the other hand, acclaimed production designer Jourdan Henderson – whose art direction of ‘Manchester by the Sea‘ and ‘Fatherhood‘ garnered critical attention – came on board for this Mayim Bialik directorial. Let us now take you to the specific locations where the movie was filmed!
Bergen County, New Jersey
Most of the filming took place in and around Bergen County, the most populous county of New Jersey, located at its northeastern corner. The filming process helped enrich several local businesses as well. While filming in the area, director Bialik satisfied her appetite by sampling the state’s exquisite cuisine. She visited the legendary Kosher Nosh Deli Restaurant & Catering, a kosher restaurant located at 894 Prospect Street, in the suburban community of Glen Rock, in Bergen County. Therefore, it is possible that a few sequences were lensed in the area.
Bialik also visited Dana’s Bakery, which is known for its eccentric twists on traditional French cuisine. Located at 69 Wesley Street, in the Gansevoort Market area of South Hackensack, the bakery is famous for its specialty – macarons. The cast and crew members shared several behind the scene photos on their social media profiles.
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