Levin – Stop Filming in Brooklyn Heights!

This dispatch just in from our man in the NYC Council, Steve Levin in response to the crazy amount of filming recently in Brooklyn Heights (we’re looking at you, Delivery Man):

Council Member Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn Heights) called on the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting to place the entirety of Brooklyn Heights on the City’s “hot spot” list, which would result in a moratorium on filming in the neighborhood and provide much-needed respite for a community that has seen more than its fair share of on-street filming.

Brooklyn Heights has been overrun with movies, television shows and commercials in recent months. In October and November alone, the community played host to at least fourteen different productions, including at least three major motion pictures. Last Wednesday, two films, Delivery Man and Winter’s Tale, were granted filming permits on the same day and were allowed to hold up to eight blocks of parking and shut down arteries such as Henry Street to traffic in the small, residential neighborhood. Winter’s Tale is scheduled to film more scenes in Brooklyn Heights next week.

“I understand and respect the fact that the movie and television industry provides revenue for the city and employs a number of New Yorkers, but residents of a single neighborhood, especially one that is primarily residential, like Brooklyn Heights, should not have to bear the burden of on-street filming on an almost daily basis,” said Council Member Levin. “The people who live in this community should be able to freely walk down the sidewalk, park on the street, and bring their children to the local playground without constantly dodging film crews.”

Brooklyn Heights, which is known for its historic brownstones, tree-lined streets, and views of Manhattan, is a top choice for location scouts and is even used as a stand-in for Boston and other cities.

“The moment one film shoot wraps, the next production is already out scouting locations in Brooklyn Heights,” Council Member Levin continued. “The situation is so bad that films are literally competing for space—one production recently posted ‘no parking’ signs before they received their permits, only to find out another production was scheduled to film on those blocks on the same day. We need to find a reasonable balance between the needs of residents and the needs of the industry. Until we can come to a resolution, however, the City ought to prohibit filming in Brooklyn Heights.”

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  • Hortense

    I miss the old Brooklyn Heights when State street had crack houses and we never saw a single tourist. I wish we could return the gritty new york of the 70’s or the homeless scourge of the 80s. How dare Hollywood recognize that this neighborhood is a gorgeous tree lined oasis. It sucks that their presence will raise the profile of the neighborhood and further make it more attractive for people to live in. That’s going to further raise my property value and guess what I’ll probably have to pay more taxes.

    I suggest we tear down some more trees (that you nor’easter) and dismantle the preservation council so some ugly out of place buildings can replace those historic brownstones. That way Hollywood will never want to come here.

    Oh and judging from the car situation let’s bulding some more parking lots.

  • Ginny

    A reasonable amount of filming is ok (I used to be in the industry), but lately, it’s been really over the top. There should be some sort of cap on the length and frequencies of filming permitted in the neighborhood. I don’t agree with a total ban because I get a kick out of seeing my neighborhood in the movies!

  • Patti O’Kane

    Frankly I don’t share the majority of responders concerns about the film making here in the Heights. Periodic blocked streets & sidewalks seem of little consequence given the state our city is in. The film industry generates money for the city (and local venders) at a time when funds will be shuttled around to pay for the ravages of Hurricane Sandy. It’s unlikely that we will see reimbursment from FEMA or the state matching the magnitude of need or request so any income we take in will help cushion the terrible days ahead. We have city hospitals to reopen, city housing projects to repair & social service agencies (a shelter around 14th St. was closed during the Hurricane due to flooding). Communities like Coney Island & Rockaways still need much help. I don’t think people realize the extent of longer range damage impact this city has to contend with since they don’t personally experience it & can turn the TV set off. We all have to make some sacrifices to rebuild our city; ours seem insignificant. This neighborhood, because we were lucky enough to not have so many overhead power lines to come crashing down, has to relinguish some of these less than admirable concerns of traffic and inconvenience for the greater good of the city. We also have to be kinder in our sense of disagreement with each other….

  • richardjay

    They say they’ll be filming until midnight (!). They’ll offer “duvateen material” to black out windows in the neighborhood affected by their lights. Thanks.

  • Tom G

    First of all let’s get past the myth that film crews are, as one of them once told me, good for local business. They don’t spend a dime with local businesses. They bring everything with them, most obviously food in all those catering trucks. But they also bring every piece of hardware, every screw, and every roll of tape with them. There’s a good reason for this, location shooting is very costly (notice all those lighting guys hanging around doing nothing till the call comes for their 30 minutes of work for the day). They can’t be looking for a hardware store when something is missing.
    That being said, I really enjoy movies that are shot on location, and that’s the price I ( we) pay.
    As for locals who own cars and never use them except to look for another free parking space, I have absolutely no sympathy.
    But Steven Levin is right, fewer shoots would be better.

  • Mr. Crusty

    The film crews may not necessarily be a boon to local businesses as Tom G states but that doesn’t mean they don’t bring a huge positive economic impact to the region. All those lighting guys you mentioned are New Yorkers and would be without jobs without the film/TV industry. Below are some stats regarding the industry in NY:

    Economic Impact of the Industry

    The motion picture and television industry is responsible for 91,608 direct jobs and $8.2 billion in wages in New York, including both production and distribution-related jobs. Nearly 49,000 of the jobs are production-related.

    2011: During the course of 2011, 115 movies and 113 TV series filmed in the state. Movies include Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Bourne Legacy, Rock of Ages, Imogene, Gods Behaving Badly, The English Teacher, and The Dictator. TV series include Damages, The Good Wife, Saturday Night Live, Blue Bloods, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Person of Interest.

    2010: During the course of 2010, 118 movies and 124 TV series filmed in the state. Movies include Limitless, Men in Black III, Haywire, Man on a Ledge, Our Idiot Brother, Tower Heist and The Smurfs. TV series include Nurse Jackie, Bored to Death, 30 Rock, The Daily Show, Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order: SVU, and Royal Pains.


    I think the benefits far outweigh the minor inconvenience to some residents.

  • Wiley E.

    Bloomie reads.

  • Nicole Horsford

    Thank you Councilman Levin clearly his comments started a heated debate amongst Heighters… that being said I am of the mindset “everything in moderation”.

    The movie-industry wanting to use the neighborhood is both a compliment and an annoyance. We live in beautifully preserved relic of Brooklyn that we are all very proud of and are mindful to take care of…with keeping a neighborhood so authentic there is a profit making industry that wants to use it because it is far less expensive to shoot in an established area then having to build a set. And sure there are a litany of inconveniences separate from the parking issue that come to mind; traffic concerns, litter and the introduction of transient workers and a large crew are all bothersome. One time during filming of “Girls” or a commercial I was asked to wait to exit my building because I would mess up the shot.

    As a life-long New Yorker who has lived elsewhere, there is no where like home and others want to take advantage of this amazing neighborhood also but I think moderation is the way to go and the movie industry should give back to the community in some way shape or form. We all know they pay the city of New York a pretty penny for their permits to shoot.

    And what’s with all of the name calling – just because you are writing in a forum doesn’t mean if you don’t agree you become childish…get it together.

  • north heights res

    Arch Stanton and others: on the day before Thanksgiving, two police officers were stationed in the middle of Henry St. at the corner of Remsen, directing traffic down Remsen and forbidding pedestrians from walking down the street. It wasn’t a PA requesting: it was a directive from law enforcement.

  • Judy Stanton

    First of all, I am surprised nobody has noticed or commented on the cat in Steve’s photo. It has a very cute face with obvious personality! Secondly, the BHB commenters used the “ban” word. Not Levin. Levin is representing a widely felt experience when he calls for a “fair balance” between neighborhood Q of L and playing host to one TV series after another, separated only by one feature film after another. There DOES need to be a complete respite followed by more moderation in the sceduling. Thirdly, films do not pay to park in the City’s streets. There is a small permit fee paid to the City’s Film Office (few hundred$) while the State provides generous tax incentives to attract filming to NY. Lastly, I do not own a car but can understand when others do. Just as the film industry may be good for the City, so are the residents and merchants who put down roots in the community and pay taxes.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlsiLOnWCoI Arch Stanton

    north heights res, Yes the police do have that authority but not the film crew. That must have been a special consideration as normally there is no police escort on film shoots.

  • Teddy

    Moderation is the key here. Two, maybe three productions a month, not more.

  • carol

    1) Attractive, historic or cool neighborhoods have way too much filming. There should be ways to prevent neighborhoods from becoming overburdened by film crews…which leads me to the next item…

    2) I think that most film crews are decent hardworking people however the attitude of the Mayors Office on Filming has trickled down to the people on the ground: Filming is important to NYC, it brings jobs and anyone can get a permit to film within 24 hours. This arrogance translates to behavior that assumes that the background (i.e. the neighborhood and the residents)
    are not important to the mission of filming. When crews are rude or leave garbage behind, or hold a parking space for an in and out director, they are simply reflecting the philosophy of the city administration and forgetting the lessons their mothers taught them about politeness and respect for others.
    Bloomberg Countdown: 13 months to go. I am actually counting the days, not the months.

  • Wiley E.

    Go Carol, go. You too Judy. Thanks for your postings.

  • David on Middagh

    To a point of Judy’s–and I speak with gravity, somberness, and complete seriousness of purrpuss–this actual pic of the seemingly (I stress *seemingly*) shameless cat-gladhander Stephen Levin has been doggedly trotted out for years (evidence: entry from 2010: I think this was the first: http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/18218 ), as if to purrpetuate the notion that our elected City Council representative is a cat-person, maybe a dog-person, possibly a passable true pawed-person–he may be; I can’t see inside him–when all (and I emphasize *all*) that can be infurred here is that, like any politician or vetted puplicked servant, he made the best pawssible use of a spawntaneous photo ahhpurrtunity.

    (Furrgive me, all. I thought there was a dearth–nay, a lack–nay, a pawcity of humor here.)

  • Mr. Crusty

    @David of Middagh “(Furrgive me, all. I thought there was a dearth–nay, a lack–nay, a pawcity of humor here.)”

    Which your post unfortunately did little to alleviate.

  • David on Middagh

    I just wanted to get the phrase “shameless cat-glandhander” into the language.

  • David on Middagh

    Oops. Not “gland” handler. No, no.

  • LindaBernstein

    As both a resident of Brooklyn Heights, and a “film worker” I know that most of the money that is being spent on wages for film crew is NOT being spent in NYC. Reason, most film crew does not, and cannot afford to live in the city, and reside in New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut.
    Money is definitely paid to NY suppliers, but even many of them have left the city.
    Why not make it easier for all.
    1) OVERSIGHT: Have much more care in permitting. Many times lots of streets are posted for no parking, but they are NOT USED.
    Somehow at the mayors office, the let the film companies do
    whatever they want.
    Also the times are always wrong, they forbid parking from the night before, but no trucks come until after 7 am. So people could use those spots for overnight parking.
    2) PLEASE BE NICER TO THE LOCALS, Often the crew is rude to people on the street who are just trying to live their lives. The crews could use a little help learning respect.
    3.) Provide parking spaces for the people who are being asked not to park in the neighborhood. ie Parking lot or garage, or area they could rent for that purpose close by.
    4. And finally..not everyday or everyweek…

  • Fritz

    I posted before, but not strongly enough. I’d rather more filming, not less. I’d rather filming every week. There’s no definition of “moderation”.

  • Andrew Porter

    All these comments are leaving me catatonic. On several levels…

  • Wiley E.

    Cat-a-tonic. Where is Bee-Bop hiding?

  • Rolf Carle

    It would be interesting to see what the Mayor’s office of Film reply was to Levin’s “call”.