Behind the Set: How a Vacant Corner Building Transformed into a Fictional Bar

By Heather Capriola

A couple of weeks ago, before the cast and crew of Gone Girl bid adieu to Cape,  I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the Construction Foreman,  Ace Mona,  in charge of the sets for the movie.  Specifically, I was interested in The Bar and how they took it from a fictional place in Gillian Flynn’s novel to a real establishment in Cape.  However, I walked away from that interview with so much more than I expected.

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Ace has been in the film industry for 38 years. He initially did not want to get into the film industry but was given the opportunity when a former co-worker’s husband was retiring and she suggested that he give it a try.  Well, he met with Universal Studios and when asked about his experience in film and set construction, he stated that he had a ton of experience and got the job. Ace laughed as he retold the story about how, in fact, he had no experience but a lot of confidence.  For someone that has been involved in the film industry for so long, Ace is refreshingly friendly, genuine, and has a true love of meeting people. He admitted to me that even after all the time in the industry, he still gets starstruck.  He states that he loves his job because he is able to go to different cities, meet the locals, and just have fun.  He prides himself on experiencing each new town that he finds himself in and explained to me that he had made friends with most of the downtown business owners and local tradesmen that he worked with on the construction of The Bar. As if on cue, Dave Boyer, whom was responsible for the neon lighting and signage,  walks in and Ace greets him like a lifelong friend. 

The Bar is a perfect combination of old and new.  David Fincher and a location scout picked out the spot for The Bar based mainly on the location.  They wanted a spot that embodied the small town feel that Gillian writes about as well as had a view of the river.  The Bar has a bar that will be familiar to a lot of Cape residents; the bar is from Mollie’s and was already in the space. However, Ace and his crew added some components to it including lights and distressed it to give it the look of having hundreds of people belly up to it for their favorite drink. The front door to The Bar underwent some changes as well by having a panel added over the glass. The panel can be removed at a later date.  The construction crew ripped out the old window and added a new one. They even added some new fence posts across the street but painted and weathered them so it appears as if they have been there for a long time.  The painters were an important part of the transformation into The Bar. They had the task of painting a lot of new things but had to make them look older and weathered.  They did this by adding a colored powder and dish soap to their paint.  Ace mentioned that a lot, if not all, of the props used at The Bar were purchased locally at different shops. The owners of the building that The Bar currently resides in will be able to keep all the furniture, props, and new upgrades that were made by the construction crew.

It was a great experience for me to be able to see The Bar and learn about all the changes that were made to bring it to life.  However, the most interesting part of the experience was Ace.  It was nice to hear about how much he loved our little town and how comfortable he and the rest of the cast and crew felt while they were here.  It appears that as much of an impact as Gone Girl made on Cape, Cape has definitely made an impression of the crew of Gone Girl.  So when Gone Girl is released in theatres, see if you can spot the differences made to the old Socials Café to make it into The Bar.

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