CHESTER — A television series based on the daring 2015 inmate escape from Clinton Correctional Facility and featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest stars has been filming in recent days in the woods of Pottersville.
The Showtime network miniseries dubbed “Escape at Dannemora” has taken over Natural Stone Bridge & Caves in recent days, with the attraction’s access road and parking lot loaded with equipment trailers, vans, recreational vehicle trailers and four-wheelers transporting film crew and actors into the woods near Catamount Mountain.
It is being directed by Ben Stiller, and stars Benicio Del Toro and Paul Dano as the inmates who escaped, and Patricia Arquette as the prison employee who helped them.
They also have been shooting scenes in recent days at O.P. Frederick’s restaurant on Loon Lake and on private property off Igerna Road, Chester Town Supervisor Craig Leggett said.
It was unclear what portions of the show, or which actors or actresses, had been on site at the popular Pottersville business.
Leggett said producers plan to use Main Street in Chestertown for a shoot in the coming days as well, possibly as soon as Thursday night. That could result in the street being closed for up to four hours during the evening. That effort was being coordinated with the state Department of Transportation and State Police, Leggett said.
“They want to close Main Street from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.,” he said.
The eight-episode show is based on the 20-day escape of convicted killers of David Sweat and Richard Matt and the manhunt that ended with Matt dead and Sweat back in custody. Stiller has acknowledged he would be directing, but it was unclear when it would air.
“We are all very intent on trying to tell this singular story in a way that shows the reality and humanity of the people involved. While the genre is a prison escape story, at its core it is a story about real people, some criminals and some not, who make some bad choices that have huge consequences. I think that’s what’s so compelling about this,” Syracuse.com quoted him as saying earlier this year.
A Post-Star reporter wandered around the property for a few minutes Wednesday morning before being spotted and corralled by security officers from a private firm. A man who identified himself as Alan Brightman said shooting would go on for “another day or two” in Pottersville, and he referred comment to a publicist in New York City who had no comment on the production or scheduling other than sending a reporter a general news release on the show’s development from June.
The property was abuzz with activity around 9 a.m. Wednesday, as people and equipment were being ferried into the woods on all-terrain vehicles past a sign that said “set.” A large tent with tables and food had been set up near the parking lot.
A North Warren Rescue Squad ambulance was parked on the property as well.
Natural Stone Bridge & Caves remained open Wednesday, according to its staff, though the hiking trails on the property were listed as closed. Owner Greg Beckler said he could not discuss the production Wednesday or while the filming was ongoing.
It was unclear where Stiller and the show’s stars have been staying during their time in the region. A casting call for extras for the show was held in July in Plattsburgh.
Residents of Stone Bridge Road said the activity on the road has slowly built over the summer, to the point that film crews arrived in recent weeks. Bright lights have been visible from the property at night as the shooting has taken place.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Roy Baker, who was walking a dog on the road Wednesday morning as vans full of production personnel went up and down the road. “It’s a huge ordeal.”
The staff at the Nice ‘N Easy convenience store near Exit 26 of the Northway, where numerous production vehicles and staff were stopped and affiliated people were shopping, said business has picked up in recent days.