Study Guide

Ghostbusters Production Design

Production Design

Live From New York

As we say in our Setting section, Ghostbusters is a valentine to New York City and was filmed almost entirely on sight in the Big Apple. The filmmakers didn't rebuild the Public Library's famous Reading Room on a soundstage, they filmed it right there in the Library, itself (where the tranquility of library-goers is still sometimes disturbed by people running through the room dressed in Ghostbuster outfits).

Why rebuild a replica of Columbia University's impressive campus, when you can just film on location? Especially when it's way cheaper to use the real places. Throughout, the authentic NYC locations ground the out-there movie in reality, while also making great use of some New York's inherently spooky architecture.

Very Special Effects

Ghostbusters basically invented the genre of special effects comedy, so we'd be selling you short if we didn't mention the effects of the effects here. Reitman, Aykroyd, and Ramis were kind of stressed out about the effects at first because all the best effects production houses were tied up with other big-deal projects like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Return of the Jedi.

Luckily for our boys, an FX wizard named Richard Edlund just happened to be free.

Edlund had cut his chops on far-from-obscure films like Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Poltergeist, so no doubt he had the skills to pay the bills. The production still had no production house, though, so Reitman and Edlund decided to build their own.

It was a crazy amount of work for the short production schedule Columbia had stuck the team with, and the last of the effects were put into the film just before its first screening. When an industry audience first laid its critical eyes on the film, its makers had never seen it all put together.

These days, Ghostbusters' special effects look pretty goofy. Compared to the CGI craziness that effects wizards can pull off now, the stop-motion terror dogs, eighties neon proton pack blasts, and puppet Slimer look a little dated. Even at the time, Edlund admitted that the effects came out a little funky.

If you ask us, they're perfect for the film though. Slimer is supposed to be funny looking. This is a comedy-horror, not horro-comedy, and the fun-but-cheesy effects totally catch the tone.

Want all the deets on Ghostbusters' FX? Go here for a great series of videos that show you all the tricks.

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