Sing Sing (2024): Where Was the Movie Filmed?

‘Sing Sing’ is a heartwarming drama starring Colman Domingo as John “Divine G” Whitfield, a real-life convicted felon in a high-security prison. Directed by Greg Kwedar and based on a true story partially written by Whitfield and Clarence “Divine Eye” Maclin, who appears as himself in the film, the movie showcases the personal transformation of many inmates in the facility and their relationships with each other. The plot revolves around their everyday struggles of life behind bars and how it takes an unexpected turn when they enter the Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA) program.

An actual practice, the RTA program allows incarcerated men a unique form of therapy by letting them prepare and stage their original creation, a comedy play titled ‘Breakin’ The Mummy’s Code.’ Although the A24 drama provides audiences with a raw and gritty view of the facility, it becomes more than just a film about prison life but a deep exploration of human resilience and connection. Kwedar’s direction brings an authentic touch to the tale of escapism, making ‘Sing Sing’ a high-quality, thought-provoking cinematic experience, where visuals prove to be as impactful in carrying the story as the screenplay and performances.

Sing Sing Filming Locations

The plot of ‘Sing Sing’ is set in Sing Sing Correctional Facility, a historical early-19th-century prison in New York, where inmates experienced soul-searching opportunities that inspired the movie. Although the producers had been trying to make the project a reality for nearly six years, it only became possible in the summer of 2022. ‘Sing Sing’ was shot in real locations in New York in July and August, with filming lasting only 18 days. The director of photography, Pat Scola, ensured the visuals and filming sites played a crucial role in enhancing the story’s impact.

Westchester County, New York

‘Sing Sing’ was notably filmed in the titular Downstate Facility at 354 Hunter Street in the Ossining town of Westchester County, New York. This became possible after a significant portion of the facility was decommissioned the same year, allowing the state to leverage valuable estate and establish the Sing Sing Prison Museum. The stark and often oppressive environment of Sing Sing Correctional Facility is brought to life through minimal production design to preserve the authenticity of the location choices. This decision allows the audience to fully immerse themselves in the characters’ difficult world, experiencing the highs and lows alongside them.

Additional sequences were shot outside the facility, near the banks of the Hudson River. The film’s attention to detail in recreating the maximum-security prison setting adds a layer of realism that heightens the overall emotional experience. The production also took care to restage the central play, ‘Breakin’ The Mummy’s Code,’ with caution, as footage of the original echoes how closely the crew followed it for accuracy. Located only 30 miles from the skyscrapers of Manhattan, the prison is featured as a character in its own right, where a metaphorical escape is as valuable as freely wandering around the mesmerizing streets of New York City.

Historically, Sing Sing has long held the reputation of a harsh confinement center that ensues Victorian-era-style punishments as opposed to the rehabilitation ‘Sing Sing’ focuses on. Regarding the differences between the two worlds across the fencings, Sean “Dino” Johnson, another actor and former facility alumnus, shared, “We knew about the humanity behind the wall. It’s the world that doesn’t know about it.” He also pointed out the pride in revisiting the prison for shooting, even though he and many of his co-stars had vowed never to see it again after their release. “Like the characters do in the film, you have to leave the nonsense outside the door. You come in here? It’s a free space,” he shared with Variety during a red carpet event.

Lead actor Colman Domingo cultivated a supportive behind-the-scenes atmosphere to ensure his co-stars, specifically the former inmates, felt comfortable shooting their scenes. At the Brooklyn premiere of ‘Sing Sing,’ he said, “I made New York my home for 16 years, and many of my cast mates, comrades, and brothers are from New York. And a lot of them from this borough. So it’s even more important that we’re having this premiere here where their families are here. So, it’s for them.”

Read More: Sing Sing: The True Story Behind the Movie, Explained