Film Turns Mary Help of Christians School Into After-Hours Club

photo(97)Daniel Maurer

Last night, Mary Help of Christians Church was ethereally illuminated as writer-director Larry Brand filmed scenes from “Girl on the Train,” a neo-noir thriller starring Henry Ian Cusick as a documentary filmmaker, Stephen Lang as a detective, and Nicki Aycox as the titular femme fatale.

Rebecca Reynolds, a producer, said that the corner of East 12th Street and Avenue A will feature prominently in the indie flick: scenes were shot at Table 12, the deli across the street, and inside of the vacant school building behind Mary Help of Christians, as well as in Brooklyn, Queens, Riverdale, and on the Metro-North train. “This location can just be so many things,” she said, nodding toward the church’s rectory. “We were able to use it as Lexi’s childhood-home kitchen, we did an after-hours club in here, we did an abandoned tenement room, plus they have a dining hall where we fed and catered the crew.”

photo(98)Daniel Maurer A “hot set” inside of the former M.H.C. school.

During an impromptu tour of the school, which closed in 2006, Ms. Reynolds showed off a classroom serving as a makeshift sound studio. The words “thank you Father, you are the light of the world” were still chalked on a blackboard. On the floor was a fake severed hand. On a table, a box labeled “Violent Stuff.”

In another room remodeled to resemble a grimy bedroom, a mattress sagged in the corner, fake blood spotted the ground, and graffiti covered the walls. Unlike the religious murals by Chico and other artists throughout the school building’s hallways, the tags reading “Make $” were commissioned for the film. Ms. Reynolds said there was little evidence of actual squatters or vandals when the location was scouted.

Outside on East 12th Street, cameras rolled as a taxi cab pulled up to the church. Out stepped Mr. Cusick, perhaps best known for his role as Desmond on “Lost” and currently starring in ABC’s “Scandal.” Filming was expected to go till 3 a.m. or later. Ms. Reynolds resides in the small town of Leland, Mich. with her husband and co-producer, James Carpenter, but early this morning she had a short commute home: during the shoot, she’s staying at a friend’s apartment in Stuyvesant Town, just a few blocks north.

Related: Inside the Abandoned Mary Help of Christians School

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 12, 2012

An earlier version of this post misidentified Ross Satterwhite, the executive producer of the film, as Ms. Reynolds’s husband. Her husband is James Carpenter, also a producer.