City Seeks To Manage TV & Movie Shoots

Permits are required for any film crew that has more than a simple camera. Photo: CityLaw.

City processes encourages the numerous movie and TV shows using New York City as a backdrop. New York City is currently experiencing a golden age of television and movie-making. The advantages to such a booming industry seem undoubtedly positive, but some argue that daily life can be marred by the constant displacement due to filming on local streets. Residents of specific communities claim that the negatives outweigh the positives when films use a particular location for days which can interfere with certain residents’ daily lives and livelihoods for an extended period of time.

Filming anywhere in the city requires a permit issued from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Multiple websites track the most frequently used locations for filming throughout the City and report how many films and TV shows are being filmed in any given year. The City issues tens of thousands of permits per year, thousands per month and even hundreds per day. Residents can track specific filming locations in their area which is published daily providing information such as project type, start and date of filming, the exact location in which the production crews can be found.

Permits are required for any film crew that has more than a simple camera. There are other rules and requirements that include notifications to the community in which the project is being filmed. Mayor’s Office Media and Entertainment’s website offers a sample letter that notifies residents that specific blocks will have suspended parking and any remaining vehicles will be towed or moved.

Josephine Beckmann, District Manager of Brooklyn Community Board 10, explained that the process between the Mayor’s Office and community boards delicately balances the interests of the public as well as the interests of the city. Community Board 10, covering Southwest Brooklyn, including the northern section of Bay Ridge, has been used extensively in filming, most recently in the television series, Blue Bloods. In 2017 alone, there have been between 20 and 25 shoots in Community Board 10. Frequently, the same areas are re-used in the filming of different productions, likely for the aesthetic of downtown’s skyline of older buildings and recognizable City streets.

Shoots range from a few days to a few weeks depending on the type of production. The production teams submit their applications to the Mayor’s Office, which then notifies the Community Boards by email so that residents can be alerted. Simultaneously, the selected streets will be posted with notices on electrical poles and parking meters to inform the members of the community of the impacted dates and times of shooting. Any vehicle that is not removed will usually be towed. Josephine Beckmann, Community Board 10 manager, along with her staff, follow up that the City ensures that the film crews “consolidate space, don’t take up space unnecessarily and issue specific, detailed permits that reflect the situation accurately.”

Issues arise when a shoot is long-term because it becomes inconvenient for businesses. Beckmann posits that the impact can be felt in a commercial strip, for example, when the parking in front of a store is unavailable for days or even weeks at a time. Customers are unable to shop with ease and convenience when parking is unavailable due to the trailers and set vehicles occupying the street. The City and community boards can impose limits on the amount of time filming can occur in one location to make up for any losses and inconvenience.

While Beckmann is unsure of the revenue it brings to the City in terms of tax benefits, she does notice an increase in filming and “how enthusiastic neighbors are for filming and how much excitement and buzz is created within the neighborhood when the residents come out.” Overall, Beckmann explained that both the Mayor’s Office and producers are very accessible and accommodating and have improved their notification process through the film permit notices and post throughout the neighborhood in advance to ensure the best experience for the film production and incur the least amount of disturbance to the people in the community. Despite the inconvenience, City residents happen to live in one of the most desirable locations to film in the nation and ultimately, everyone cooperates and abides by the regulations to keep the movie-making magic alive.

By: Avra Kutcher (Avra is a student at New York Law School, Class of 2019)


2 thoughts on “City Seeks To Manage TV & Movie Shoots

  1. Could you please post the link to where residents can track the specific locations in their area which is published daily? I live in an area (SoHo/Little Italy) that has more than its fair share of filming disruption …though we just finished a welcome 6-month mandated hiatus…and have never been able to find such a listing. Also, those neighborhood letters are rarely posted or distributed. I can tell you for a fact that my neighbors here are more likely to get hot under the collar when filming is going on here than get excited. Some have even done FOIA requests to get information on local filming frequency.

    I have no doubt that the film industry is vital to the economy of our City. However, it cannot be denied that it can be a hardship on local residents and businesses as well…something that the Mayor’s Office has largely ignored as a necessary evil through the last two Mayors.

    The concept of giving beset neighborhoods a break was adopted after several hearings held by Community Board 2, Manhattan some 20 or so years ago. That community board covers Greenwich Village, SoHo, NoHo, Little Italy…and experiences way more than 20 shoots a year..probaly more than that a month.

    But whatever the case, community boards cannot impose rules at all, as this article mistakenly states. They are advisory only.

  2. Don’t complain I have the entire NYPD MOVIE&TV crew next door taking up a lot of our parking without a camera in sight! They’ve expropriated eleven curb spots 24/7 at 4th Avenue and store their POVs on-site. Still they spread out to other streets.

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