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Fire Island’s Director Explains The Challenges Of Actually Filming On The Iconic Island

The summer movie season is upon us, and Hulu’s recent release of Andrew Ahn’s Fire Island has come just in time for the beach. The raunchy romantic comedy is a modern adaption of Pride & Prejudice, featuring a cast of queer actors playing out that beloved tale. And Fire Island’s director explained to CinemaBlend the challenges of actually filming on the iconic island.

The Fire Island movie is set on the titular location outside of Long Island, which requires a ferry. There are plenty of iconic spots from the island present in the movie, including multiple scenes at sea. As you can see in the video above, I had the privilege of speaking with director Andrew Ahn and the cast of Fire Island (opens in new tab) ahead of its release. When I asked about the process of filming on such a remote location, Ahn told me:

We had a very narrow window of time where we could shoot on the island. We had to be there after labor day so that we weren’t interfering with tourism. And then we had to be done before Joel and Bowen went on to their next gigs. So we had two weeks on the island where we had to shoot every exterior and get all of the Fire Island goodness. I love that the cast and I stayed together in a house on the island. It felt like the Bennett sisters, you know? It was so Pride & Prejudice.

Talk about a tight schedule. Considering how many exterior shots are in Fire Island’s 105-minute runtime, it’s truly impressive that Andrew Ahn and the cast/crew only had two weeks on the actual island. Although it does sound like it ended up bonding the ensemble in the process.

The cast of Fire Island at sunset

(Image credit: Searchlight Pictures)

In addition to the various exterior shots in Fire Island, there are also some scenes that take place during the sunset. Sunsets at the Fire Island Pines are particularly gorgeous, with a completely clear sky that makes for stunning lighting. But actually filming during this brief period of light was a challenge, with Andrew Ahn sharing how they pulled off those sequences by saying:

It was a real challenge, we had to own the Ferry for a few days to get equipment over. That sunset scene that you mentioned, we had three cameras, we had rehearsed, we were ready. We knew that we had like 20 minutes to get a page of dialogue and were like ‘We’re gonna do it.’ But this cast is so good, they’re so funny, they’re so talented. It works so beautifully and it’s one of my favorite scenes of the movie.

The cast of Fire Island is killer, including SNL favorite Bowen Yang who got to do his own musical number throughout its runtime. Fans of Shonda Rhimes’ catalog of TV shows will recognize How to Get Away with Murder actor Conrad Ricamora playing Will aka Mr. Darcy in Fire Island. When speaking with the cast of the acclaimed comedy (which currently sits on (94% on Rotten Tomatoes), I asked Ricamora about his experiencing physically filming in the Pines. He explained how transformative that two week period was, saying:

This was my first time going to Fire Island was shooting this movie. And I think I had judged it really harshly before I went, because, as someone who is more introverted. I’m not a part of a party scene. I just thought that’s all Fire Island was. But getting to make this movie and getting to become friends with everybody that’s in this movie, and then going to Fire Island itself. Joel put it so well when he says, ‘You feel the constraints of a heteronormative society being lifted off off of you as soon as the ferry pulls up to the dock.’ And it really is a magical place that has a place for everyone, including introverts.

Conrad Ricamora is referencing Joel Kim Booster, who wrote the screenplay for Fire Island in addition to playing protagonist Noah aka Elizabeth in Pride & Prejudice. His character narrates the comedy, to delightful results. And the words from the script truly rang true with Ricamora when he entered the titular location for the first time for shooting.

Conrad Ricamora in Fire Island at sunset

(Image credit: Searchlight Pictures)

As previously mentioned, the critical response to Fire Island has been super positive. Considering the groundbreaking nature of the queer cast and realistic take on what it’s like within the LGBTQ+ community, it’s a great kickoff to Pride Season. 

Fire Island is currently streaming on Hulu. Be sure to check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.