Silvercup Studios

Go behind the scenes at the studio where Gossip Girl, 30 Rock and Girls are filmed.

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  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    The massive complex was originally the site of Silvercup Bakery. In 1979, the Suna family took over the space to house a sheet-metal business, but the operation used only a quarter of the facility's potential area. "Starting the studio had to do with finding an appropriate use for all that leftover space," says Alan Suna, the company CEO. One of the building's caretakers told Allen and his brother Stuart that networks were looking for places to film. With help from late director-producer Frank Streich, the brothers opened the studio in 1983.

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    "Silvercup has sizzle to its name now," says Stuart Suna, the president of Silvercup, as he stands in front of the lot's iconic signage. The studios were used frequently to shoot episodes of Sex and the City, which helped increase demand for the already-popular filming space. Now Silvercup execs occasionally have to turn away productions because they're so booked.

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    The busiest time of year at Silvercup is from the end of November through May, according to Alan. It's during that time that shows either move forward or are canceled.

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    "There really isn't a typical day," says Amy Kaufman, co-executive producer for the WB hit Gossip Girl. "I'm prepping and shooting at the same time, plus location scouting, casting, going to prop meetings, reading scripts, rereading scripts and handling the unexpected." Regardless of the tasks at hand, Kaufman's day usually lasts 13 to 14 hours.

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    "I have one of the best offices," Kaufman says, referring to her view of the Queensboro Bridge and Manhattan.

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    David Yoon, an office/art production assistant for HBO's Girls, is responsible for "getting random weird things, taking care of people [and] making sure things run smoothly." When someone from props calls from the set with an urgent request for candles, Yoon pulls the items from the storage closet and runs them downstairs.

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    At lunchtime, Yoon and two other assistants rip plastic delivery bags from a local burger joint open and begin scrawling staffers' names on the cardboard boxes. "Lunch becomes a huge ordeal," he says. "[We're] ordering for 10 to 15 people every day."

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    Joshua Marsh, a costume coordinator for Girls, occasionally turns to online shopping for offbeat, otherwise-unattainable items: "There's always that child's velvet sombrero.... It's so random, but you know in a few months somebody's going to be asking where it is."

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    Before Girls, Marsh worked on costumes for The Good Wife. He was supposed to assist at Girls for a week, "but that was seven months ago," he laughs. "It's the steadiest work you'll get in entertainment."

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    For ten years, Stuart Suna lived in a huge duplex apartment he built in what used to be the Silvercup Bakery refrigerator---it once held milk and yeast. After it was an apartment, it became what's now part of the Girls office. The space is fully carpeted, with gorgeous views of the Queensboro Bridge and a modern staircase topped with a wooden banister.

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    In addition to the A-list shows that shoot at Silvercup, several companies use the facilities for commercials and photo shoots. Among the other businesses that film at Silvercup is Michael Schrom and Company. Production supervisor Pam Crawshaw organizes clients, coordinates prop arrival, and advises and assists the director, among many other duties as production supervisor. Many of the productions are food-based, which isn't always a plus: Some days, she heads home "smelling like fried chicken."

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    Equipment for Michael Schrom and Company.

Photograph: Noah Devereaux

The massive complex was originally the site of Silvercup Bakery. In 1979, the Suna family took over the space to house a sheet-metal business, but the operation used only a quarter of the facility's potential area. "Starting the studio had to do with finding an appropriate use for all that leftover space," says Alan Suna, the company CEO. One of the building's caretakers told Allen and his brother Stuart that networks were looking for places to film. With help from late director-producer Frank Streich, the brothers opened the studio in 1983.

No matter the project, the raw talent generated at Silvercup is a testament to New York's reputation as another film and television capital—so much so that industry insiders have nicknamed our city "Hollywood East." On a stroll through the 260,000-square-foot main lot, you may find a clique of sexy Upper East Side socialites plotting dating fatwas as Gossip Girl tapes its fifth season. Elsewhere, Liz Lemon might be grimacing as she listens to Tracy Jordan's latest rant on the set of 30 Rock. And even behind the scenes—within the rented offices, wardrobe closets, set and prop rooms—there's a continual hum of energy as crew members and executives hurry from one space to the next. Gossip Girl co-executive producer Amy Kaufman loves the "collegial and communal feeling" among different casts and crews. "There was a day when 30 Rock shot on one of our sets, and we tried to get some of our actors over there as a gag," she says with a laugh.

Since shoots frequently run from early-morning hours to late in the night, 60- to 80-hour weeks are an occupational hazard in the television and film industries. But as a result, employees here form even stronger bonds: "When you spend [that much time] with people, you're kind of like a family," says Joshua Marsh, costume coordinator for HBO's new fall comedy Girls. In addition to the network series that film here, several creative agencies also work out of Silvercup and use the space for commercial and photo shoots. For Pam Crawshaw, production supervisor for Michael Schrom and Company, these types of projects have their own set of quirks: "One of the craziest things we did here was have a master ice sculptor build an arctic landscape [for a Bailey's Irish Cream shoot]," she recalls. "He had his chain saw and ice picks, and it was about 40 degrees in the studio."

Wanna work here?
According to Silvercup executive vice president Gary Kesner, regardless of their specialty, most people start working at Silvercup (or one of the productions that tape there) at the assistant level. So the harsh reality is you will be running errands and ordering lunch for your superiors. But if you do what's asked of you and beyond, people in hiring roles will notice your gumption and contact you when they have another project in the works. E-mail silvercup@silvercupstudios.com to be considered.

Users say

5 comments
John
John

I went to Aviation HS down the street in the 80s and ended up in construction. Now I'm looking for a new career in TV productions.

Thomas Bowman
Thomas Bowman

Great place to work. Keep up the good work and professional standard.

JOHN LYNCH
JOHN LYNCH

As a kid, Silvercup was my favorite bread

John Lynch
John Lynch

Can I visit the Silvercup studios. As a child, Silvercup bread was my favorite. It sponsored several of my favorite radio programs

John Lynch
John Lynch

can i visit the silvercup studios