Take two! Residents still want reports on film shoots in their streets

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The original was a flop, but they’re hoping the sequel will be a box-office smash!

A controversial Council bill that forces filmmakers to inform Brooklynites of the shoots that regularly close their streets — which has been languishing for years due to industry opposition — is getting reboot, and audiences are already giving it rave reviews.

“There are so many movies being filmed, we should get a report at the very least,” said Williamsburg resident and longtime activist Jan Peterson.

Councilman Steve Levin’s (D–Greenpoint) original bill, first pitched in 2013, forces the city to provide communities with monthly online reports detailing all filming in their neighborhood — and who is behind it — as well as an annual analysis on the public costs and benefits of the productions.

Currently, residents rely on a trickle-down system to find out about filming in their neighborhoods — the city alerts Council members, who clue in community boards, who relay the information via e-mail to anyone who has asked for updates.

Most people aren’t signed up for the messages, though, and find out about filming only when a “no parking” notice appears outside their door, or they return home one day to find their street has been turned into a 19th-century dirt road.

Living on a film set is a hassle, residents say — dealing with extra trash, noise, and idling trucks — and they think they deserve a heads-up.

“The problem really lies in the day to day,” said Greenpointer and self-proclaimed anti-film industry activist Rolf Carle. “I just want to be able to know when filming is going on, and where.”

But Hollywood and the Mayor’s Office of Film and Television — which claims to reap $9 billion a year from the industry — threw rotten tomatoes at Levin’s original plan, claiming the studies would be a huge hassle that would send the industry packing for more film-friendly towns, and that publicizing the whereabouts of big stars would put them at risk, and the legislation bombed harder than “Cowboys and Aliens.”

Now the councilman is rewriting the script to scrap the annual report, instead just asking the city and industry to notify locals about what will be filming in their streets each month and how it will affect them.

“The focus is going to be more on the reporting, and less on the economic impact,” said the councilman’s spokesman Edward Paulino. “That’s really what we’ve been hearing from residents — frustration when streets are closed up and parking spots are not there anymore.”

Levin says he still hasn’t penned the edits, however, and doesn’t have a release date yet.

The city filming agency refused to comment on the bill, but said it strives to strike a balance between community needs and production requests.

Reach reporter Madeline Anthony by e-mail at or by pnone at (718) 260–8321.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to correct spelling error.
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Reasonable discourse

Ginas from Bushwick says:
I work in the film business and I agree that things can be done to improve the relationship between the studio and the neighbors inconvenienced. One idea I have offered up is that alternate side parking is stopped in the areas that filming occurs. Maybe give home owners a tax break themselves. Stop hogging spots for an entire day before a shoot. It is good business for everyone to keep the filming in NY but there is much more that can be done to make it more painless.
April 19, 2016, 12:54 pm
TOM from Brooklyn says:
Money(cash) passes hands at each of these shootings to sooth any impasse. Do the neighbors being directly inconvenienced ever get it? This article doesn't indicate that.
April 19, 2016, 4:22 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
Half of Hollywood lives in Brooklyn anyway nowadays so it's hard to imagine it more film-friendly.
April 19, 2016, 8:10 pm
Joe from West Village says:
Many New Yorkers make a living and support their families working in film and television. This has been a growth industry during an economic downturn. When I see a film shoot in my neighborhood (which is all the time) I know it's a good thing - working people earning a living and contributing to the local economy. One of the only things we still actually make in America is filmed entertainment - I'd really like to keep the work in NYC and not lose it to Canada or other countries.

What Levin and many neighborhoods don't realize is that even huge events in the city aren't actually permitted until a week or two in advance (including Thanksgiving Day parade, Pride parade etc). The Film Office has strict requirements re: notification & holding parking & all productions are required to notify CBs as soon as they have confirmed dates.

Moving your car can be an inconvenience but having a car in NYC is a huge pain anyhow so I don't mind a little inconvenience when it I know it means working families are earning a living.
April 20, 2016, 8:34 am
HPK from Greenpoint says:
I understand the economic benefits to the City and am willing to live with the associated rules and related impacts.

What I don't understand is that the production crews are able to park their personal vehicles in many of the parking spots that were taken from the residents (and customers of local businesses) the day before and the day of the of the film shoot.

This is often done under the guise of 'releasing' parking spots back to the community, the morning of the shoot, after the crew cars have parked their private cars. The other method is to have handwritten notes on the vehicles' dashboard stating 'Movie Car'; the security staff on site will become very defensive (and offensive ) when you start to take pictures and / or plate numbers of these vehicles; many of which are from out of state I might add.

Repeated calls to the Mayor's Office on Film result in no action; when you point out the parking of the staff vehicles to the location manager on sit or an NYPD officer assigned to the shoot, the usual response is 'oh do you need a spot; I'll see what I can do?

More and more everyday, in this City, the little guy that does the right thing, pays their taxes and maybe is fortunate to have a car, a little property, a home and / or a business; is getting the short end of the stick...
April 20, 2016, 9:55 am
Joe from West Village says:
HPK - this is absolutely prohibited; productions have had their permits pulled for this infraction in the past. Call the Mayor's Office of Film immediately when you see this and ask for a field rep to come out to the production. 212-489-6710 is the Film Office #.
April 22, 2016, 12:14 pm
Rolf (no 'e') Carle from Greenpoint says:
 "...self-proclaimed anti-film industry activist Rolfe Carle"!?
My activism has targeted the Mayor's Office of Film Theater and Broadcasting (MOFTB) regarding their process (or lack of one) to deal with complaints from the community hit hardest by filming not the industry itself. If Councilman Levin's bill is to better understand the impact of filming on neighborhoods than it must first address the self serving process MOFTB uses when tracking citizen's complaints.
April 26, 2016, 12:01 pm
Rolf (no 'e') Carle from Greenpoint says:
A second point to be made is that permit information should be made public as filming occurs not a week later. Often production companies over step their permits by taking more parking then allowed. In the case of the "19th century dirt road" mentioned in the Article, no permit was issued and it is actually illegal according to city law to do so. We have also had cases where the permits are outright "fakes". An up to the minute data base would catch the infractions as they happen not a week later when the production company is far gone. Of course getting the city to act on these infractions is practically impossible.
April 26, 2016, 12:26 pm

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