- Netflix’s “Dash and Lily” is a festive and heartwarming series that has captured the attention of fans and critics alike.
- Insider spoke with the series’ showrunner Joe Tracz, executive producer Shawn Levy, costume designer Cristina Spiridakis, and music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas to gather some fun facts.
- The show was filmed in New York City and featured iconic landmarks like The Strand, and The Morgan Library and Museum.
- The crew hand-painted 15 pairs of majorette boots for the series and had a “giant box” of red notebooks on set.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Netflix’s latest holiday series, “Dash and Lily,” is a romantic adventure through New York City.
Starring Austin Abrams and Midori Francis as the titular characters, the show follows teens Dash and Lily as they get to know each other via dares passed back and forth in a red notebook.
Insider spoke with creator, showrunner, and executive producer Joe Tracz as well as executive producer Shawn Levy, costume designer Cristina Spiridakis, and music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas to learn more about the new series.
Read on for some fun facts about “Dash and Lily.”
Warning: This slideshow contains spoilers for “Dash and Lily.”
The series was filmed on location in New York City during the fall and winter of 2019.
“Dash and Lily” showrunner Joe Tracz knew that filming on location in NYC was the only option when he started working on the series.
“As much as Dash and Lily are falling in love with each other, in reality, they’re not together very much in the show so they’re falling in love with each other by falling in love with New York,” he told Insider.
A self-proclaimed stickler for NYC geography, Tracz said the production was committed to ensuring the locations were authentic.
“In the writers’ room we had a giant map of the city and we put pins in all the locations from the book. Everyone in the room had lived in New York at some point in their lives and talked about what are the places that are meaningful to them,” he said.
Executive producer Shawn Levy added, “It was always essential, we never considered filming this anywhere but New York because we didn’t want to cheat. We wanted an authenticity to the show so that the backdrop of this romantic show could also feel real.”
Although the show was filmed in the winter, most of the snow seen on “Dash and Lily” is fake.
Levy said it was not very snowy when the series was filmed, so they had to improvise.
“We had to be very creative with our use of fake snow and with our framing of shots,” he told Insider.
“There were times where if we were even 1 millimetre wider on the lens you would see that there was not even one single flake of snow on the ground in NYC,” he explained. “So a lot of that was fakery, but it was essential to pull it off because that romantic, NYC, holiday-time backdrop is a character in itself.”
The band who played the Challah Back Boys featured real New York City musicians.
When Lily accepts the dare to go to the Challah Back Boys concert, it’s a major turning point for her character and her relationship with Dash.
That scene featured a performance by a real New York City-based band called Golem.
“We looked at a number of bands for this scene, but I was thrilled when Golem – a truly wonderful Klezmer-rock band from NYC – was selected by Tracz to perform as the Challah Back Boys,” music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas told Insider.
She continued, “Annette Ezekiel Kogan and her band were just delightful to work with and Tony Maimone produced the tracks as a special bonus.”
Dash’s blue peacoat was actually a vintage Naval coat.
When it came to finding the ideal peacoat to match Dash’s personality, costume designer Cristina Spiridakis knew it had to be vintage.
“We tried so many coats to find the perfect peacoat for Dash but kept coming back to the real vintage Naval peacoat – because that is just what he would have,” she told Insider. “Modern coats just felt so forced.”
“Dash and Lily” got permission to film a scene at The Morgan Library and Museum, which reportedly hasn’t happened in decades.
Throughout the show, the characters visit places like The Strand, The Morgan Library and Museum, and the “Alice in Wonderland” sculpture in Central Park.
When asked about how the “Dash and Lily” team managed to get access to such iconic New York landmarks for filming, Tracz credited his locations team and the series’ commitment to portraying an authentic version of the city.
Tracz also said he was told that The Morgan hadn’t been open for filming since the 1981 Oscar-nominated film “Ragtime” was shot there.
“They let us in and opened their arms and their doors for us,” he told Insider. “People who saw the scripts saw that we presented not only an authentic version of New York but also a version that emphasised what’s beautiful, magical, and romantic about these places.”
Many of the costumes for “Dash and Lily” were sourced from vintage shops.
Finding the perfect wardrobes for Dash and Lily was a huge part of their character development.
When asked how her team went about creating such specific looks, Spiridakis told Insider there was “tons of vintage.”
“Both Dash and Lily are characters who are purposely not mainstream – in their behaviour, their personalities, and definitely not in their clothing choice,” she said, “Dash is definitely a person who believes that older is better.”
The designer explained that his vintage sweaters and other costume pieces “were always things of quality that last, and show their age with pride.”
Spiridakis continued, “For Lily, she makes her own clothing, so we would scour vintage stores in search of handmade pieces, pieces that had been doctored or changed, and things that were colourful and special and unique – like Lily herself.”
While shooting at a coffee shop, real New Yorkers tried to order from the actor playing the barista.
“The fun thing about shooting in New York City is that no one blinks an eye at anything unique happening,” Tracz told Insider.
“So we were filming at a coffee shop with all of our cast and crew there, but people would still walk in and order with our fake barista,” he continued. “They were very confused when they found out they were talking to an actor.”
Spiridakis handcrafted many of Lily’s more unique costume pieces.
Spiridakis told Insider that she’s made certain items for every project she’s worked on, so it was especially fun for her to take on a series with a character like Lily, who makes her own clothes.
“I truly could not help myself. I went craft crazy,” she said. “My team calls them ‘Cristina Crafts,’ and there are many on ‘Dash and Lily.'”
The designer said she handcrafted Lily’s ornament necklace and tree sweatshirt dress, all the Macy’s elves’ collars and trimmings, and the show’s iconic majorette boots, among other pieces.
Nick Jonas was an executive producer and had a hand in choosing the show’s music.
Nick Jonas both helped produce “Dash and Lily” and made a surprise cameo on the show. According to Tracz, the singer-songwriter influenced a lot of the show’s music choices.
“Giving the show a strong musical identity was really important to Nick,” he told Insider. “His own tastes are diverse and genre-spanning, and he encouraged us to think outside the typical holiday box and mix up classic songs with contemporary choices.”
He continued, “Getting his opinion, and his seal of approval, on our music meant a lot.”
Jonas also was hands-on in other aspects of production.
Having first worked with him on the second “Night at the Museum” movie, Levy told Insider that he has always known how “creatively hungry and ambitious” Jonas is.
“When Nick and I decided to team up on this one, I knew that he would pull the weight and be a true collaborator,” Levy said. “So unsurprisingly, Nick was very helpful with soundtrack and music suggestions, but he was equally helpful with notes on casting, ideas regarding drafts of the scripts, or edits of episodes.”
He continued, “He was hands-on, especially considering that the lion’s share of this shoot was happening when he was on tour throughout the entire globe, doing a concert every single night.”
Although Dash’s costume colour palette was purposefully muted, it shifted a little throughout the series to mirror his feelings for Lily.
Colour is important when it comes to bringing out characters’ personalities through their costumes, especially in a holiday series with well-defined palettes.
“Dash’s palette is very purposely outside of Lily’s world – his colours are very classic: maroon, hunter green, navy, rich browns,” Spiridakis explained. “Their different palettes help delineate their separate stories and separate views on Christmas.”
She added that Dash’s clothing purposefully gets more festive throughout the series, saying, “Anyone looking closely will see that little bits and hints of red really work their way into Dash’s costumes as he falls for Lily.”
Crew members would line up to buy books at The Strand after filming.
For book lovers, there’s nothing like the fantasy of being in a bookstore after it closes, and that’s exactly what cast and crew of “Dash and Lily” got to do.
Since they spent so much time walking through the stacks of books at The Strand, crew members couldn’t resist purchasing a few throughout production.
“We filmed in The Strand overnight. We’d be in after they closed and we’d be out by the time they opened in the morning,” Tracz told Insider.
He continued, “People bought so many books, too. We’d all be in there all night with stacks of books everywhere. Every morning when they’d reopen you’d see the line of crew members buying the books that they’d be eyeing all night.”
The most difficult costume to put together was Lily’s first outfit of the series.
Spiridakis told Insider that Lily’s first costume was the hardest to get right.
“We see bits and pieces of it across the two first episodes before we fully meet Lily, so each piece had to have purpose and tell a story,” she said. “From her gloves, to her rings, to the laces in her sneakers – every piece of that costume speaks to how vibrant Lily is, and what she values and loves.”
There was an entire box of red notebooks filled with handwritten journal entries.
Tracz told Insider that there was a whole box of red notebooks for the show – and each one contained handwritten entries.
“There were so many,” he said. “Julia Goldman, who was our scenic woman, was actually the handwriting for both Dash and Lily. I feel so bad, I’d go over to talk to her and she’d be furiously writing out journal entry after journal entry in two different handwritings.”
The showrunner continued, “You can’t do the show without the notebook. We had a whole giant box of them, all accurate, with all the journal entries written out.”
The most extravagant costume to create was the Door Queen’s gown.
On “Dash and Lily,” actor Michael Cyril Creighton played both Jeff the Elf and the Door Queen who lets Lily into the Challah Back Boys concert. The glamorous look for the Door Queen ended up being the show’s most extravagant costume, according to Spiridakis.
“The dress was inspired by a vintage gown we found that had this incredible feather trim. From there I just started doing drawings, looking at swatches, and figuring out how to make this look as joyful as the scene it’s a part of,” she told Insider.
“We had the dress built at Sarah Timberlake’s incredible costume shop and she and her talented team really made my sketch come to life – down to the twinkling lights set in the feather trim,” she continued. “And then along with that, were so many accessories and shoes, and sparkly stockings – it was really a fun one to do.”
Nick and the rest of the Jonas Brothers almost couldn’t do their cameo.
Tracz told Insider that it wasn’t easy to get Jonas and his brothers in to film their cameo for the final episode of the season.
“I’d always secretly hoped that Nick could have a cameo, but he was on his Happiness Begins tour while we were in production, so it seemed impossible,” he said.
“Fortunately, Nick really wanted to be a part of the show, so he and Shawn Levy cooked up this crazy plan where we could film with Nick and his brothers in the morning before they played a concert that night,” he continued. “It was our biggest set piece and we were racing the clock to make sure the band could make it to New Jersey in time for their show”
According to Jonas, he didn’t actually know that his brothers were going to do it with him, but they were happy to help once the schedule was squared away.
The show’s costume designer said the Santa suit was her favourite look from the series.
Spiridakis told Insider that seeing the final Santa suit all put together was one of her favourite moments of filming.
“The first time I saw Santa all dressed, in full hair and make-up, it brought me real-deal joy,” she said. “His suspenders and belt were custom-made. I searched and searched to find the perfect scarlet-red Santa suit. I mean, we were making a Christmas love story, Santa had to be perfect.”
Different Christmas songs were handpicked to set the vibe for certain scenes.
The series’ soundtrack is full of Christmas tunes, but they aren’t all holiday classics.
“One of the first things that I pitched was the song that ends the second episode, ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues, which is sort of a non-traditional Christmas song … It felt right to end the second episode because it was like we’re going to give you Christmas but it’s not necessarily going to be what you expect,” Tracz told Insider.
The showrunner also explained that they were intentional with their song choices for certain scenes.
“You get some Dash songs and some Lily songs,” he said. “Dash is introduced walking to The Strand to a Decemberists song and Lily is introduced with ‘Sleigh Bells.’ You get a little bit of both.”
“Father Christmas” by The Kinks was supposed to be a key song for Dash, but they couldn’t get the rights to the music.
“One of my favourite Christmas songs is ‘Father Christmas’ by The Kinks,” Tracz told Insider. “It’s really an anti-Christmas song, which felt perfect for Dash. And since the lyrics are about mugging a department-store Santa, it seemed like a natural fit for our Santa dare, when Dash steals Santa’s hat.”
He continued, “But it turns out The Kinks are notoriously hard to licence.”
There were 15 pairs of hand-painted red boots made for the series.
Fans who are looking to snag their own pair of Lily’s iconic red boots will have to do a bit of crafting to recreate the look.
“They are real majorette boots that I found online,” Spiridakis told Insider. “The boots are meant to be old, and when you find out where they are meant to be from in the story, boots that were hand-painted – that look hand-painted – truly felt like the only way to go.”
To ensure there were enough boots for Francis (who played Lily), her stunt double, and the props team, they ended up painting 15 pairs of white majorette boots.
The costume designer also said that two different shades had to be mixed the get the perfect red, and each boot required six coats of paint.
The show is based on a series of books — so a second season isn’t out of the question.
But the authors went on to write “The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily” in 2016, and they recently released a third instalment, “Mind the Gap, Dash and Lily.”
With more stories to adapt, Tracz spoke about the possibility of a second season.
“I’m very lucky because David and Rachel have written two more books that continue to follow Dash and Lily at subsequent Christmases. In fact, their third book was recently released so we have a template for what we can do in the future,” he said. “I love these characters and I love the actors we have playing them.”
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