A Bay Ridge councilman wants to crack down on film crews hogging scarce parking spaces at the expense of local motorists — but the city wants to keep the cameras rolling on … and the dollars rolling in.
Councilman Vince Gentile (D-Bay Ridge) said last week that the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting should be required to get a go-ahead from community boards and councilmembers before issuing permits to film crews that plan to occupy parking spots for more than 24 hours.
“We all know how precious parking is in this city, particularly in my end of Brooklyn,” said Gentile, who serves on the Council’s cultural affairs committee.
He was prompted to act by a recent shoot for the new Bette Midler and Helen Hunt flick, “And Then She Found Me.” The film was slated to block off part of Third Avenue on a Monday and Tuesday, while a street festival would clog the street on the preceding Saturday and Sunday.
Gentile found out about the film shoot, and managed a last-minute fix.
“Had they consulted with us ahead of time, we could have avoided a situation like that,” said Gentile.
Gentile’s proposal is generating support in other neighborhoods, where film crews have become as omnipresent as cellphone stores.
“I’m often taken aback by how late the notices come to our offices in general,” said Rob Perris, the district manager of Community Board 2, which encompasses Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights, and Downtown Brooklyn.
“I’ll get something at 5:30 pm telling me they’re shooting tomorrow. I can’t do anything with that.”
Judy Stanton, the executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, added that “it becomes very galling when some 20-something crew member says you can’t walk down your street because there’s a film shoot.”
She should know. Brooklyn Heights is a hot location with film scouts.
In 2006, the south part of the neighborhood was overtaken by filming for Martin Scorsese’s Academy Award-nominated hit, “The Departed.”
City officials countered that film shoots lasting more than 24 hours are “uncommon,” but that the minor inconvenience is a small price to pay for stardom.
“Film and TV production pumps $5 billion into the local economy annually, supporting 100,000 jobs for New Yorkers,” said Julianne Cho, a spokeswoman for the film office.
“Notification [of shooting] is provided to affected community residents and officials, including community boards and councilmembers.”
And the film office says it periodically rotates the crops, allowing some neighborhoods to lay fallow after particularly burdensome shoots.
“Right now, portions of DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights are on temporary rest periods,” said another film office spokesman, Kwame Patterson.
That’s a wrap for us, but Gentile hopes his bill will get a hearing soon.
©2007 Community News Group
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