This summer’s anticipated outbreak of “Affluenza” finally struck on Thursday in the Village of Great Neck Plaza.
Crews working on the independent film “Affluenza,” which is being directed by former Great Neck resident Kevin Asch, shot in three different locations this week around Great Neck Plaza.
“Great Neck was wonderful to work with on the shoot,” the film’s writer and co-producer Antonio Macia said. “The downtown, the people were being very hospitable and happy and intrigued.”
Much of that interest centered around the stars on the set for what Macia said was the film’s eighth day of shooting, but its first in Great Neck.
Actor Steve Guttenberg - who starred in the 1980s classic “Police Academy” film series, along with “Diner,” “Short Circuit” and “Three Men and a Baby” - plays a lead role in “Affluenza.”
Guttenberg was joined on set in Great Neck Plaza this week by fellow “Affluenza” actors Gregg Sulkin, Ben Rosenfield and Nicola Peltz.
“They did a great job,” Macia said. “It was a hot day, but cast and crew pulled together. We are so very grateful to Great Neck for being so hospitable.”
Filming began on Thursday at 9 a.m. inside Jewelry Paradise at 38 Middle Neck Road.
Crews later shot near the Long Island Rail Road’s North Station Plaza stop and on the bridge near the train depot on Barstow Road, Village of Great Neck Plaza Clerk/Treasure Patricia O’Byrne said.
For Jewelry Paradise owner Shahin Eshaghian, having a scene of the film shot in his Middle Neck Road store made for quite a memorable day, said David Eshaghian, who helps his son operate the business.
“That was very, very exciting,” David Eshaghian said of the shoot. “I think two months ago they talked to my son and my son let them do it here.”
Filming at Jewelry Paradise began at 9 a.m. and ended around 3 p.m., Eshaghian said.
“They looked for watches and jewelry and they bought one thing,” Eshaghian said of the scene. “I know that it was just three people that were talking to each other. One of them chose a ring.”
Macia declined comment on the exact plot lines captured in any of the scenes shot last week in Great Neck Plaza.
“I can’t really talk about the narrative,” he said.
Eshaghian was unable to confirm the identities off all three actors who took part in the scene in his son’s store.
But Sulkin, who previously starred in the Disney Channel television series “Wizards of Waverly Place,” was involved in the scene and drew quite a reaction from some of Great Neck’s younger residents, Eshaghian said.
“Lots of people, especially lots of children, came here because they loved the actor, Gregg,” Eshaghian said. “The children came, they took the picture with him and he was very nice with the children taking pictures.”
With filming now wrapped in Great Neck Plaza, Macia said Asch and the crew of “Affluenza” will turn their sights toward finding additional shooting locations across Great Neck.
Macia said filming for the movie will take “20 business days” and will utilize locations across Long Island and New York City. He said most of the movie will be shot on Long Island.
“They are pending,” Macia said of the film’s shooting locations. “They are constantly shifting.”
In Great Neck, Macia said crews have been looking to shoot “in the area of different parks.”
Earlier this month, the Great Neck Park District Board of Commissioners voted 2-1 to allow the park district’s acting Superintendent Peter Renick to negotiate the fee with “Affluenza” representatives for filming in the Village of Kings Point’s Steppingstone Park.
The filming fee for sites within the Great Neck Park District is set at $325 per hour, Renick said.
“Steppingstone Park is definitely somewhere we’d like to shoot,” Macia said. “We’ll be there. The schedule keeps changing.”
Due to the current filming schedule for “Affluenza,” Asch was unable to comment on this story, said the director’s assistant on the film Randl Peck of RP Consulting.
“Kevin grew up in Great Neck, so I know it was surreal,” Macia said of working in Great Neck Plaza.
Asch first gained prominence as a director with his independent film “Holly Rollers,” which was released in 2010 and was written by Macia.
“Holy Rollers” stars Jesse Eisenberg, who won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the 2010 film “The Social Network” and 2005 movie “The Squid and the Whale.”
Asch’s “Holy Rollers” follows the exploits of an Orthodox Jewish teenager who is lured by his friend into selling the drug Ecstasy for an Israeli drug cartel.
Actor Justin Bartha, who starred as Doug in the blockbuster comedies “The Hangover” and “The Hangover Part II,” also played a prominent role in “Holly Rollers.”
“Holly Rollers” was featured at the Sundance Film Festival, the Gotham Awards and the Deauville Film Festival.
The film was nominated for a “Grand Jury Prize” at Sundance and Asch won the “Breakthrough Director Award” at the Gotham Awards and the “Revelations Prize” at the Deauville Film Festival.
With filming now nearly reaching its midway point for “Affluenza,” Macia said Asch is grateful for the opportunity to work in Great Neck.
“Growing up in Great Neck was very powerful for him,” Macia said of Asch.
“Affluenza” is set in Great Neck during the final weeks of the summer leading up to the “financial meltdown of 2008,” the film’s listing on imdb.com said.
The movie is inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby,” which is supposedly partially set in the Village of Kings Point, Macia said.
“For Kevin, growing up in Great Neck, he was greatly affected by the book ‘The Great Gatsby’ because it’s a powerful book and a commentary on the time,” Macia said. “Also, he had a deep connection being that the author wrote the book in the area.”
Macia said there is no current time line for the release of “Affluenza,” but he said producers are aiming for a “summer release.”
“I hate to put time lines on it,” Macia said. “The most important thing at this point is to make a good film.”
Attempts to reach Village of Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender for comment on this story were unavailing.