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City yells “Cut!” on filming in South Williamsburg

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South Williamsburg is no longer a Hollywood backlot.

That’s the message sent by city officials this week when they gave the neighborhood a three-month reprieve from film and television shoots — a re-write sought by a handful of residents who say that production crews have turned their community into a soundstage.

The city told film crews to “Take five” because the neighborhood bounded by Kent and Bedford avenues, and South Second and South Eighth streets has hosted a large number of recent shoots, including “Gossip Girl,” “The Unusuals,” and “Law and Order.”

The neighborhood also played a major role in last year’s action film, “American Gangster.”

“Based upon those factors, we will temporarily restrict filming in certain areas that have been significantly impacted,” said Marybeth Ilhe, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting.

Indeed, it’s hardly the first time that film crews have gotten bad reviews in Brooklyn — and it isn’t the first time that the city has issued a movie-making moratorium. Two years ago, Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO were temporarily deemed no-film zones.

Several projects that had already begun filming in the neighborhood will be allowed to finish over the next few weeks, Ilhe added.

Some residents of South Williamsburg, which is a popular locale for film shoots thanks to its gritty urban look and proximity to Manhattan, are pleased with the decision.

“I’m not against movies, but they can make things inconvenie­nt,” said community activist Isaac Abraham, who is one of six candidates vying for the seat currently held by Councilman David Yassky (D-Williamsburg), who is running for Comptroller. “If they take a week or so, it’s not a problem, but when these things have been going on month after month for years, it’s annoying.”

At the end of the day, it wasn’t the lights, the cameras or the action that turned South Williamsburgers against the film shoots — it was the parking.

“There’s no parking here already, then they come here and occupy these spots for weeks and weeks with their trailers,” said Leo Moskowitz, who lives on Kent Avenue. “They are taking over our lives for just a little bit of money.”

Parking spaces seem to be the spark that ignites the fire of South Williamsburg residents, many of whom are still irate about a pair of long-planned bike lanes that replaced parking spaces along Kent Avenue last year.

But deeming South Williamsburg off-limits to filming — or adding it to the “hot list,” as insiders call it — could actually come at a cost to the neighborhood.

“A lot of people tend to be a little bit over territorial, but what they don’t realize is that if they can deal with just a little bit of trouble, it will do their neighborhood and the city a whole lot of good,” said location scout Richard Hobbs, who claims that film crews can be a boon for local businesses.

“There are always going to be sensitive areas in the city, but the good thing is that this a big city,” Hobbs added.

“If Williamsburg is on the hot list right now, you go somewhere else.”

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Reader Feedback

AnotherBklyn from Williamsburg says:
THANK YOU! Seriously, these crews are very disrespectful to the neighborhood. They almost gave my 78 year old neighbor a heart attack when the tried to tell him he couldn't park in his own drive-way.If they obeyed the rules (ie shoot times, beginning and end, didn't block the entrance to our buildings and were respectful to residents) it would be another thing.

"location scout Richard Hobbs, who claims that film crews can be a boon for local businesses"
ya right. They have catering trucks brought in and they idle in front of restaurants blocking their view and pumping exhaust into the actual restaurant. I am so happy about this temporary ban.
April 2, 2009, 11:16 am
Tony from Williamsburg/Brooklyn says:
Thank You Mr.Isaac Abraham for your hard working for the community for 35 years
It’s a perfect example for a city council candidate to do watts necessary for the people in Williamsburg community.
He is the men!! We all say GO ISAAC GO!!! Keep up the good work…
April 2, 2009, 12:25 pm
ACS from Williamsburg says:
I live on S. 3rd and love the filming there. It's really fun to be taking my son to preschool and then suddenly see a flood of actors dressed as cops running out of an old building, as we recently did during a filming of The Unusuals. I'm bummed they're stopping.
April 2, 2009, 1:38 pm
Dav from Williamsburg says:
ACS from Williamsburg says it’s really fun... It’s not fun at all!! Coming home from work and can’t fine an extra parking space 4 blocks minimum and the same
Time having all photo equipment all over the place that’s not fun at all. The place to have fun you pays $10.00 for a movie ticket and gets soda and popcorn.
April 2, 2009, 2:18 pm
Jim from Brooklyn says:
This activist Isaac Abraham is a very powerful person I know this gentleman for many years he is a fighter for many years and always be so let’s give this gentlemen
Special thanks and let’s wish him all the best for his campaign for the next city councilman at 33rd district. Just keep up the good work …..
April 2, 2009, 3:59 pm
BOB says:
ITS INTERSTING THAT ABRAHAM JUMPS ON ISSUE THAT ARE DISCUSED BY BOARD MEMBERS AT THE COMMUNITY BOARD .THE RESIDENTS ALL KNOW THAT HE IS TRYING TO RUN FOR CITY COUNCIL OFFICE BUT DOST HAVE NO SUPPORT FROM NO BODY IN THE COMMUNITY .
HEY ABRAHAM U JUST WOKE UP .WHARE WHER YOU ALL THESE YEARS . WE ONLY HEAR YOU BASHING EVRY SINGLE POLITICAN ALL THESE YEARS.
April 2, 2009, 4:45 pm
A from South WIlliamsburg says:
I live in this neighborhood and own a car, and it's already nearly impossible to find parking around here, especially with the alternate side parking rules. I get tickets constantly. When the film crews are here, you sometimes have to spend an hour or more trying to find a spot the night before, often a half mile from your house, and then you can't use your car the entire time they are filming, because you will not be able to park it again.

It's enough. This has been going on for months. The crew has been here almost every week or every other week it seems. They need to find a new neighborhood because they have burdened us residents with cars for long enough.
April 2, 2009, 5:25 pm
Sam from williamsburg says:
Bob says: It’s interesting…let me tell you something I know Mr. Isaac Abraham for a very long time before you are born. You were still a RUTZER in the pampers… You became an US Citizen Not to long ago coming from London England...this issue was discussed many years ago and after that long time
Finely missions accomplish...he is a very success business person and always will bee…Williamsburg,/new Williamsburg, greenpoint, borm hill, Clinton hill,
Cabal hill, says: GO ISSAC GO!!! Keep up the good job….
April 2, 2009, 5:46 pm
Olive from South Williamsburg says:
The people complaining are the Hasidic Jews. They are the ones that need street parking for their gas guzzling mini-vans, so they can speed around the neighborhood at 80 miles per hour rarely stopping for pedestrians. And of course they hate bike lanes, they don't need them, so now they park all their school buses in them.

Yes, they are a majority in a certain part of the area, and they are organized and politically vocal. The squeaky wheel definitely gets the grease over here. It really sucks for the rest of us.
April 2, 2009, 5:50 pm
Jim from Brooklyn says:
Olive says the people are complaining…first of all there is no way of speeding 80 mph. especially this community is a big community with big families
And the street is always full with lots of children playing and having a good time. So the question is why you are choosing to live here in a safe nab.
You could simple move away like Bed-sty. By the way you sound to be a very depressed person.. get a real live…will ya…
April 2, 2009, 6:08 pm
Goyo from Williamsburg says:
First of all there is no place called "South Williamsburg". The Yupps have renamed every location in Williamsburg. Yes, these film crew think they own the 'hood while they are filming. They need to treat the people who live there with more love.
April 2, 2009, 6:10 pm
A says:
Olive, I find your screed vaguely racist. I am complaining, and I am not an Orthodox Jew. It is not illegal to own a car. I am a long-time resident of the neighborhood and the film crews were getting very burdensome. Orthodox Jews are not the only people who live here and own cars.

It makes sense to move onto other neighborhoods. There is no reason for a film crew to take over one neighborhood every week for months. It's time they get out, and obviously others agree because they are leaving, and I, for one, am extremely grateful.
April 2, 2009, 6:12 pm
anotherbklyn from wb says:
I'm not Hasidic either and I am so happy the mayor's office listened (shocked actually). Also, I could be wrong, but the hasid neighborhood is south of Broadway and not even the area in question right? I have never seen filming south of Bway. It's usually Berry to Kent between South 1 and Broadway that gets hit week after week.

Contacting the mayors office and voicing concerns seems to be working:

Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB) 212-489-6710
April 3, 2009, 9:31 am
Darren from Greenpoint says:
HELP US TOO.... Greenpoint has a shoot it seems almost every day. Its bad enough I now have to dodge all the yuppy runners and breakless hippy bikers walking over the Polaski, to work; but the shoots are the worst.

1. The police give little to no notice when to move ours cars
2. They have no respect for us or our community.
3. They don't clean up their no parking signs

We pay a damn lot of taxes to live here so we shouldn't need their money.

I propose one 5 day shoot per year per 10 block area.
April 15, 2009, 9:33 pm
Walter from Greenpoint says:
I am not against filming in your block, But what I am against it's that they should cancel the parking rules at
least in 10 square blocks around the block that are filming on and put signs that indicate such blocks that will host at
least 120 cars that are being misplaced.
You know that mayor Bloomberg and company wants your money NO MATTER HOW he gets it.
June 13, 2009, 10:21 pm
S. Willy B. from South Williamsburg says:
This article was written three and half months ago and yet another television shoot happened last night outside the McCaddin Memorial Hall Theater on Berry Street between South 3rd & South 2nd for a new HBO series called "Broadway Empire".

It was cool having Hollywood in my South Williamsburg backyard for the past couple of years, and I dealt with the inconvenience of losing the street parking within the immediate blocks of my apartment - but after three straight years of orange cones and trailers taking up the streets, it has become extremely annoying driving around the surrounding blocks in wider and wider circles looking for a space to park.

I don't believe in the comment Marybeth Ilhe made 103 days ago, "Several projects that had already begun filming in the neighborhood will be allowed to finish over the next few weeks." I believe the owners of the McCaddin Memorial Hall Theater on Berry Street are making so much money renting their space that public parking within three blocks of this building will continue to be impossible!

Thank god "The Unusuals" television series was cancelled, that show was absolutely horrible which added salt to the wound of having zero parking around McCaddin Memorial Hall Theater for multiple weeks.

"Broadway Empire" better win an Emmy for keeping that elevated bright flood light beaming into my apartment window until midnight last night.
July 15, 2009, 5:10 pm

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