Is Filming In Brooklyn Heights ‘Out Of Control’?

Ask the Mayor’s Office about the inundation of shoots for movies, TV shows and commercials and you’ll get this response: “The industry provides high-quality jobs in an era when low-paying service jobs have become the norm.” According to the Boston Consulting Group, NYC’s film sector is the strongest in history, generating $7.1 billion in 2011, while employing 130,000.

But some residents of brownstone Brooklyn have a different take, saying that they’re paying the price for the boom. According to a story in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, with “the streets of historic Brooklyn Heights clogged with film trucks on a regular basis, local businesses and residents are fuming.”

Judy Stanton, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, says she’s losing count of the multitude of shoots in the neighborhood. For one, filming of flick “Delivery Man” is taking place at Plymouth Church, the Promenade, Brooklyn Historical Society, Henry Street, Montague Terrace, Remsen Street and Pierrepont: “How many blocks? No answer. I think it’s excessive. More consideration needs to be given to little neighborhoods like this one. Last week, ‘Law and Order’ and a Lottery commercial were shooting at the same time. The Lottery trucks blocked Montague from Court to Henry street. That really did affect merchants.”

Andrea Demetropoulos, who owns Rocco and Jezebel pet shop at 89 Pineapple Walk, has launched a cease-fire petition, and tells the Eagle, “Filming is out of control. Three customers and the UPS guy this morning told me they couldn’t park anywhere. They’re killing the people who live here. This entire neighborhood is only 5 by 13 blocks. There needs to be a moratorium.”

The Brooklyn Eagle counts more than a dozen major films and TV shows being shot locally over the last two weeks: “Delivery Man,” “Smash,” “Law and Order: SVU,” “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn,” “Noah,” “Golden Boy,” “Zero Hour,” “Orange,” “666 Park Avenue,” “Carrie Diaries,” “Person of Interest,” “How to Be a Man,” “Infamous” and “Made in Jersey”—along with a number of commercials, like the New York Lottery spot being filmed on Montague Street. Much more in the Eagle piece here.

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  • Joe D

    It’s so out of hand. The local businesses seem to have a ton of trouble getting deliveries — both mail and new inventory.

  • Paul

    If they help Brooklyn heights , its tangetial at best.
    However, they directly have a bad effect on the neighborhood.
    There is no Trickle down effect here.
    They take all the already limited parking there is available.
    They bring their own food trucks to feed their crews, so
    there is no Trickle down to all the food establishments.
    It may be a windfall for the city but its a complete
    absurdity for the people and families whom live here.

  • hortense

    Really? Are we really complaining that our neighborhood is akin to a movie set in terms of its beauty and quaintness.

    Which businesses exactly are suffering? Connecticut Muffin? Am I not going to go to that poor excuse for a bakery because Paul Rudd is standing outside? The dry cleaner? Those crappy Montague restaurants?

    For those with parked cars- get a garage or else deal with it – the streets are property of the city and you are not paying enough in registration fees to “own” them. In fact my taxes help you and do nothing for me. If the city wants to monetize it to a film shoot – too bad

    I know plenty of other Brooklyn neighborhoods were there are no film shoots, you should move there vs. ruining it for everyone else

  • BH’er

    do like every other city agency: add a BH surcharge! make this work pay (us)!

    can’t the BHA slap a Use charge on the film shoot application? with such high demand, the price is too low

    brownstone owners should get appearance fees to support the cost of maintenance and construction – absurd that the city would be the only one to get paid for the use of private property, which is the back-drop the films are using (in addition to the sidewalks, parking, etc.

  • GHB

    Jeez Hortense, you must be a treat to be around!

  • MonroeOrange

    @GHB haha! I was thinking same thing! Stay classy Hortense!

  • Lisa Moore

    I love it when I see the movie trucks. It’s exciting to be part of the arts industry right here in our own little nabe.

  • Teddy

    @Lisa Moore

    I’m not excited about the pollution/fumes those trucks spew on residential streets. There have been too many film shoots in the area lately.

  • Ming 001

    Pet store owner upset because his customers couldn’t find parking on street, though there is a garage right next door to Pineapple Walk. And somehow his UPS guy is one of the few that never double parks in the city – unlike 99% of delivery drivers. I’ve seen UPS trucks on sidewalks – that’s how much they worry about not having legal parking spots

    As for the trickle down effect, it does exist. I have a friend who works as a cameraman, and film crews will absolutely go back to these neighborhoods during their personal time. Also, you’ll be surprised how many of these crew members also live in BK or rest of city- so yes, the shoots provide jobs to locals.

    Are the recent shoots an aberration or a pattern? A temporary inconvenience does not mean that BKH is turning into a studio backlot.

  • hicks st. guy

    @bh’er, appearance fee for a building in a background? hilarious.

  • Fritz

    I’m more than OK with the movie shoots. They add to life in the Nabe. They advertise the Nabe.

    BHA is against everything anyway. Their motto seems to be “We’ve got ours, now you get yours.” BHA has been dead to me since they hired Bush’s attorneys to block St. Ann’s Warehouse.

  • north heights res

    If this is a topic you’re interested in and have a comment, I hope that you will go to the Brooklyn Eagle site, read the original article, and leave your comment there. The reporters who did the work on this and the newspaper that funded deserve your clicks and your attention, and the revenue that goes along with it.

  • Emily

    Most people prefer not to pay $20 to park for 10 minutes to pick up a $10 bag of cat food. I appreciate that our neighborhood is beautiful and people want to film here but it is getting out of hand. There needs to be a limit on things like this. Paul is right. They don’t bring any money to our neighborhood. They bring their own food, their own electric trucks, their own everything. What benefit does this have for us? (except to see a star or two but who really cares about that). When I’m late for work because I can’t cross the street due to a filming of a lotto commercial, I get irritated. Marty needs to start charging more for people to film here and use our streets. Otherwise, go get a sound stage and design it to look like NYC, The show Friends did.

  • sajh

    Agreed. There should be a nominal fee for the number of feet there is no parking allowed on any particular street. Those blocks should get a small tax credit on their real estate bill. Yes, I know renters dont get any of that. Supposedly a landlord could pass those savings on but unfort renters are always going to get the short-end in most situations such as this.

  • Gerry

    @ BHer – I am always approached by production companies for the use of our home and for a while did contract for movies and commercials to be shot ihere – I stopped taking the offers after our 4th baby was born it became too much 6 people in a room at the Brooklyn Marriott for 2 or 3 nights was no fun.

    We were paid very well for use of our house. With high tuitions looming and so many other expenses I may go back to this at a time in the future because I need the money.

  • Wiley E.

    But, Bloomberg just loves it. So it has to be okay.

  • Bear

    Shooting is good for the economy overall, but lately with multiple shoots on the same day it is a bit out of hand. They should have the production companies at least pay for garage parking for all the displaced cars. I don’t even own a car anymore because of the parking hassles/cost of garage. But it still annoys me.

  • Cranberry Beret

    @Fritz – the BHA (and many other public groups) didn’t sue to block St. Ann’s Warehouse. They sued to stop an illegal government transfer; the beneficiary was irrelevant. The ends don’t justify the means. Several courts agreed (overwhelmingly). Thanks to the suit, the process will be re-run legally, and St. Ann’s will get the warehouse and the public will get an equivalent amount of new parkland in exchange.

    Instead of ad hominem attacks (“BHA is against everything anyway”), let’s stick to the facts, please.

  • Martin L

    A simple cost/benefit analysis would weigh the money paid out for the work created vs the taxes paid by the approximately 1,000 structures in the Heights. The taxes, in the 10s of millions per year, go directly to the City and its many services. They are paid year in, year out.
    The high taxes are based on the high value of the property which , in turn, depends in part on the amenities of the neighborhood and the quality of life here. These amenities are being severely compromised by unforgiving film trucks and related, obtrusive activities.
    The meager funds from the film work which trickle back to the Heights amount to peanuts compared to the vast amount of property taxes we pay.
    In addition these disruptions add to the congestion of the streets, impede emergency vehicles, and preclude access by needed repairmen and delivery trucks and interrupt commercial activities
    So, the City needs to take another, deeper look at the unintended consequences of ceding our streets and sidewalks to the ‘job-creators’ from wherever.
    This should be an immediate and priority task for the BHA.

  • Hicks on Hicks

    We don’t have a car so we aren’t inconvenienced, we are more inconvenienced from weekend subway maintenance. The pet shop on Pineapple Walk is a chronic complainer, whining about Pet Emporium (Sahmi on Montague) being a late arrival to the nabe and what-not. Pineapple Walk doesn’t generate much traffic on the best of days, hard to see much impact from filming. BCG claims that the NYC film industry is the strongest ever employing over 130k. With local unemployment around 8%, how can we propose shutting down this relatively low polluting and high paying industry? At least it isn’t 2nd Avenue with dust, toxins, and noise from the wee hours to late in the day for years!

  • Matt

    Wow, I think some people just look for things to complain about.

  • Andrea

    Dear Hicks on Hicks. So glad you seem to know me and my store stating we are chronic complainers. Because if you did you would realize that Sahmi is my friend. I guess you would want small businesses to shut their mouths and take the shit it is dealt. Today filming took place at the toy store and the film crew tried to prevent people coming to my store and to the hairdressers. I’ve complained this time because there are too many projects being filmed in the Heights which does not only impact my store but all the other establishments that are also trying to stay in business and not become unemployed.

    So do me a favor put a face to your remark since you hide behind a fictitious name.

    Rocco and Jezebel for Pets

  • BH’er

    I said it on the other movie thread but I’ll say it again here:
    the city should not collect royalties on the use of private property by film companies

    the owners here have paid to build and maintain their properties, including paying the city tax on them (not cheap)

    these buildings then become the back drop for countless tv shows, movies, etc.

    the city isn’t giving them anything – the building owners are – and the owners should own the rights to it’s use

    the city just issues a permit to use the public property (sidewalks, etc.) in front of the buildings

    at least some of the revenue should go to usage fees for the building owners

  • GHB

    Robert Moses, are you always such a dick?

  • Gerry

    @ GHB – why did you call Robert Moses a dick? Sound to me like he explained a bad situation with dogs barking alone all night in a store?

    And you feel Moses is a big dick?

  • GHB

    I was talking about his response to Andrea. So, she used a 4-letter word!

  • Catherine

    Hey, Robert. The dogs in the kennel are walked 3 times a day including every night, even on weekends. You might want to get your facts straight, they also get to play most of the day. Also dogs bark, especially when they’re playing but I guess you’re such an expert. The dogs are very well taken care of, a million times better than the way the old place used to.

  • Sarah

    There was an unfortunate amount of vehicles being towed on Joralemon late last night in preparation for “Delivery Guy” filming today. The NYPD spent a noisy hour and a half towing and unintentionally setting off car alarms around 11PM.

  • Wiley E.

    How much time notice are the production companies required to give car owners to move their cars?

    It seems the warning signs on Joralemon Street were put up in less than 24-hours before they took-over the street. The street is cleared of cars, but they are still not filming yet. The film companies should get towed-away (or fined).

  • Long-time Rez

    I found reading this thread edifying. I have one minor complaint. Although I find the filming fun sometimes, an incident occurred tonight that irritated me. I didn’t mind that when I was driven home at midnight that the driver couldn’t pull-up in front of my building because film equipment was there. I walked down Garden Pl to see who was being filmed and, when I saw Vince Vaughn, I took out my little iPhone to take a picture during his scene. One of the workers asked me to not take a picture. When I told her I would not use flash, she said “We want to keep it on the DL.” There were hardly any passersby by around, I was obviously a neighbor and, to look at me, you’d see there is no danger of me plastering an iPhone pic all over the internet. I thought that restriction was unnecessary and unneighborly. After all, they are using my block for filming. They may have even woken me up this morning when they set up. The least they could do was let me take a picture. Besides, what kind of “DL?!” The no-parking signs for the movie are all over the nabe, and the news of the filming is in major mags and on blogs! What could my little photo add?! While I was quite tolerant before, this has left me with a bit of a bad taste. And, yeah, I have noticed a lot of filming in the past few weeks and thought the nabe should specifically benefit financially for being part of so many productions. At the very least, give all residents free tickets to all films shot here!