Greenpoint Gazette
Councilmember Steve Levin

Film permits Bill Could Cast More Problems on Greenpoint

BY Jason Silverstein

Lights, camera, too much action?

Some Greenpoint residents worry that a recent City Council bill aimed at alleviating annoyances of local film shoots might only give their problems an extended edition.

The bill, introduced by District 33 Councilman Steve Levin in late August, asks the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting to post monthly and annual reports of film permits, costs and other production data on its website, along with real-time updates about ongoing shoots.

But while most Greenpointers applaud the transparency effort, others think that spotlighting productions could draw more crowds, and more problems.

“I don’t see how that could make my life any better,” said Lindsay Lief, 34, who recently moved to a house on Eagle Street across from a soundstage.

“If tourists looked up where Girls is filming on the street – which they 100 percent will – that could definitely make my life worse.”

Her neighbor J.D. Gluckstein added that their block becomes a “nightmare” during shoots, and attracting onlookers would make productions “more of a circus than they already are.”

Greenpoint residents are well-versed in the parking shortages, congested streets, early morning commotions and other inconveniences of local filming. It’s one of New York’s most active locations, with up to five or six shoots in its streets and abundant soundstages any day, including Girls, Boardwalk Empire and Orange is the New Black.

Part of Greenpoint’s cinematic appeal is that it’s such a calm, humble location – which might change if its star status went public.

Ten-year resident Carolin Wood, 34, said she’s seen more tourists every year, and most flock to the nearest shoot.

“We don’t want to draw attention to stuff like that,” she said.

Some film workers also think the bill could be an added burden.

“It will definitely draw paparazzi, depending on the movie and who’s the star,” said Chris Jordon, a special effects freelancer working in Greenpoint. “It would be a nightmare.”

Carolyn Bednarski, a Greenpoint resident who regularly works as an extra, likened the reports and real-time updates to On Location Vacations, a website that posts filming locations for tourists.

“It would be so much harder for productions if more people are coming and watching,” said Bednarski, 40, on break from filming the cop drama Blue Bloods.

Councilman Levin said the bill could only improve Greenpoint, by letting City Council tackle production problems “based on data and facts.”

“It allows for us to look at the bigger picture,” he said. “It lets us see, how does this compare to other neighborhoods?”

Levin, who lives in Greenpoint and said he sees shoots “almost every day,” added that he heard some complaints about added publicity, and “would have to consider that going forward.” He said he expects the reports to show basic information, not juicy details.

“We’re looking for a way to let people know what’s happening without saying, ‘Cameron Diaz will be here today,’” he said.

The bill has been referred to the Council’s Committee on Technology, which Levin does not sit on.


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1 comment

  • Chris:

    I support it. Knowing how many productions, and more specifically, how much the permits are costing the film company will allow community groups and elected officials make more potent arguments for funding improvements in the neighborhood.

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