I was interested to learn that the city considers us a "hot spot" neighborhood, which means that we are one of the most filming-saturated communities. This is a problem for a number of reasons.
The film location industry, in many ways, is built around the premise that using a real location in their filming will be a positive experience for the property owners and local businesses.
The sudden group of people arriving in the neighborhood bring excitement as well as revenue, as they will pay homeowners and others to use their property in their shoot, and hopefully the crew will spend money at the local businesses, although they often bring their own catering.
This cash injection every so often is a real boon for a community. However, filming is not a special event in our neighborhood, and while it provides a great deal of well-paid and stable jobs in Greenpoint, it can become a real nuisance for us as residents.
Last night, several community members came with specific complaints regarding some of the companies who shoot in the neighborhood. Broadway Stages, our local production house, is very responsive and responsible to the neighborhood, but other businesses are not as careful.
Complaints from the crowd last night included diesel fumes from idling trucks outside residences, late-night light pollution and noise, and resident cars being towed without notice or detail as to where the car has been taken.
Greenpoint is particularly good as a film shoot neighborhood because we have a number of different iconic urban landscapes. We have tenements, row houses, leafy historic blocks, industrial areas, and waterfront.
Some of these locations are used again and again by location scouts, meaning that certain neighbors are experiencing the disruption ceaselessly.
The city receives quite a bit of tax revenue from film shoots, but there is not much enforcement of the rules in place. For example, many location scouts seem to skirt the rules regarding permitted parking, holding onto a vast number of spaces "just in case."
The community board, as well as representatives from Broadway Stages, are going to start looking deeper into this issue, but I did learn quite a few interesting facts from the initial discussion.
If you have a film truck idling often outside your home, you should call 311 to complain. It may well be that the permit is not correct.
Also, if you live near a church or other community facility where trucks are parked, you should talk to them if there is incessant interruption. Property owners are getting paid for this, and should be held accountable as well for bad behavior.
Finally, it is common practice on some of our more organized blocks to request a donation to a local charity as a payment to the community for the disruption.
There are many wonderful charities that neighbors could advocate for, such as Brooklyn Legal Services A and St. Nicks Alliance. Producers could help compensate our community by offering to support the local institutions that keep lower-income tenants safe.
As we move forward on this issue at the community board, I will keep you updated.