BHA Throws Cold Water on Film Shoots As City Declares Part of North Brooklyn Heights A “Hot Spot”

The BHA is claiming partial victory as the NYC Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting has declared Brooklyn Heights from Clark to Cranberry streets between Columbia Heights and Henry a “hot zone,” declaring a “partial moratorium” on production in that portion of the neighborhood.

Here’s the BHA’s full dispatch sent earlier this week:

We are pleased to report, albeit with cautious optimism, that the NYC Film Office has granted the BHA’s request for a break from the excessive film shoots that had a lot of Brooklyn Heights residents complaining during the past several months. Our caution relates to the fact that at this time only a portion of the Heights was to be designated off limits.

We asked the Film Office to designate all of Brooklyn Heights as a “Hot Zone”. During the past two months, neighbors living in the north Heights were the most vocal about the inconveniences from seemingly non-stop restrictions on parking under threat of towing, idling truck fumes, porto-potties and uncollected garbage. There were too many TV shows and commercials to be listed here, plus the arrival of “The Cobbler”, a feature film that camped inside Plymouth Church, with production trucks idling day and night under residents windows.

In a recent email sent to Councilman Steve Levin’s office, the Film Office wrote: “We just designated a chunk of the Heights as off limits: Clark Street to Cranberry Street between Columbia Heights and Henry Street…for a few months.” They added a caveat. “A couple of shoots will have to be grandfathered in as they have already gone to contract but as December winds down after the New Year it should be extremely quiet in that area.”

So far so good, dare we say it, so we hope that all quarters of Brooklyn Heights will benefit from this quiet break from filming. And we thank City Councilman Steve Levin who supported the BHA’s request to designate the Heights as a “Hot Spot”.

Several notable films including The Age of Innocence, Burn After Reading, Moonstruck, Prizzi’s Honor and The Sentinel were all filmed here. In 2010, the BHA celebrated these films as part of its centennial celebration.

When the Coen Brothers shot Burn After Reading here in 2007, the BHA received a $10,000 donation from the production company as a “thank you”.

That said, the BHA has been a tenacious watchdog of film shoots in the area and in 2008 serviced its members with a checklist for keeping tabs on productions on their doorstep.

So what do you think? Film shoots good? Film shoots bad?

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  • Fritz

    The BHA is dead to me! Film shoots are a feature of the neighborhood, add life and change to the streets, improve the visibility of the area. The BHA is against everything anyway, not surprisingly they have taken away my candy. Disrupting parking is a good thing, not a bad thing. I want more shoots, not less.

  • Sam

    Are you from Crown Heights? You clearly don’t live in an affected area. The amount of film shoots in BH has been insane. Try having to move a car 5 times in a week for a full month or deal with flood lights and idling trucks day and night, or having 22 year old PA’s telling you to walk to another block when a scene is being shot right outside where you live. You might understand better if you simply stopped to think in a basic rational way.

  • some cheese with that whine?

    who owns a car in the heights anyway?!

  • Heights Observer

    The recent shoot of “The Cobbler” was a perfect example of the disdain that these production companies have for this area and its residents. They parked their production trucks on Orange Street from 5AM until 11PM with loud smelly generators running the entire time right near people’s windows. Loud talking, foul language all day long by loutish workers who contribute nothing to the local economy because their food is catered by out-siders. To top it off, when they finally departed, they left about ten bags of garbage along the entire length of Orange Street as a souvenir for everyone in the neighborhood. Why would any same person want more of these shoots in the area?

  • Arch Stanton

    Fritz, you sound like a Hollywood tool.

    Why do we need to “improve the visibility of the area”? It is already considered one of the best neighborhoods in the country? The film shoots detract from the quality of life by annoying and inconveniencing the residence or the area.

    How is disrupting parking a “good thing”, why do you wish such aggravation on your neighbors?

  • Jeff

    Well done BHA!

    My complaint with film shoots is the last minute notices about parking. I understand the production has a crisis and needs to shoot more scenes. But that crisis does not entitle them to tow cars forcing owners to search for their car in city pounds and pay $ hundreds in fines. If a movie needs to clear a street, tow the cars to a parking garage for free. Right now, they stick a sign on a tree 5 minutes before the deadline.

    Film companies take away from our “street life” as Fritz calls it. Our street life is people strolling, kids playing, dog walking, etc. It’s a community.

    I second the question of what is the tangible benefit of visibility?

  • AnnofOrange

    Thank you. This comment is on target. BHA was very helpful in addressing the garbage issue as was Sara of the Mayor’s Office of Film. There is a sense of entitlement among the film crews that is an insult to those who live on the affected blocks. And they have little regard for law and safety, having parked a relocated SUV on Willow St at the corner of Orange in a “No Standing – Fire Zone” that sat there for days.

  • Michael Rock

    Why so binary? It’s not a yes/no question. Rather than trying to stop production in the neighborhood, I think the BHA should work with the Film Office to establish stronger guidelines on how many, how often and on the behavior of the crews when they do. We live in a crowded place with a lot going on. The goal is to manage discomfort, you will never eliminate it. And if you did, you would also eliminate a lot of the excitement and fun of living in New York.

  • ltap917

    Brooklyn Heights does not need film crews to “improve the visibility of the area”.

  • ltap917


  • DIBS

    They are all union. What do you expect?

  • DIBS

    Sour grapes over not being able to afford a car no doubt.

  • Sydney

    Is there a way of knowing when a street will be deemed illegal to park on because of a film shoot? I always check in here, but sometimes miss the notices. My car is often parked quite a distance from my home so I don’t walk by every day to check if a notice has been put up… thanks

  • Martin L Schneider

    The shallow thinking of some of our neighbors is amazing. Besotted by the false affection of movie productions, they seem to feel those trucks, the garbage in the streets and detritus left on our lamp posts, the disruption of life for the residents is worth the phony sense of fame a ‘movie’ gives. Not to the vast majority, for sure.

  • Fritz

    Hey Sam, I used to live in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, then in Detroit for 31 years below 8 mile road. I’m now in the Heights, in the effected area, they film next door to me repeatedly. I view filming as an amenity, not a nuisance, I’d be happy to walk around the block in the hopes of seeing my block in the movie.

  • Fritz

    Hey Dibs: I sold my car when I moved here. Glad to be rid of it. If the neighbors are aggravated, I’m aggravated by losing the shooting.

  • Fritz

    Dog walking means your dog pissing on our street? Assuming your dog’s feces are picked up?

  • Fritz

    Regarding towing, the NYC office says “Vehicles that are not moved by the times stated
    on the signs are relocated to the nearest available legal parking spot
    on the street. Any costs incurred by this program are paid for by the
    production. For your convenience, the production company keeps a log
    listing the locations of any relocated vehicle. Additionally, a copy of
    this log is furnished to your local precinct. If you require further
    assistance locating your vehicle, contact the Office of Film, Theatre
    and Broadcasting at 212-489-6710.” For every spot lost, there’s a spot found.

  • Fritz

    No vote was taken. Complainers just got their way.

  • grewuphere

    Unless they lose the list. When at my parents I’ve had my car relocated several times in the past few years, twice now the precinct wasn’t updated with where my car ended up and the production company didn’t know. One of those times I found it myself. The other it was pouring and, credit to the NYPD, the cops who had been idling on the block and who had radioed to the precinct to find out where my car might be took pity on umbrella-less me and drove me to the general area it should have been (moved from Cadman to near Farragut Housing) and then cruised around for 15-20mins with me to find the car.

  • Arch Stanton


  • Dumboreader

    I live in Dumbo, but I read this blog as well because I am in Brooklyn Heights often. I feel like there are much more shoots in Dumbo than BH. But that said I do agree that they are disruptive. I had two productions film in my building, which is a row house and they had to run the cables through my ground floor apartment, which was very annoying and not worth the compensation. Furthermore, during one production they tried to change the amount of money to less, but in the end the agreed to the original amount promised.

  • Heights Observer

    The firefighters and the police who protect us are also union- so what! Let’s keep Republican talking points out of this discussion.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Just recently I came across a film crew that was setting up their trucks along Court Street near Schermerhorn Street during the weekday PM rush hour (during the Holiday season!) which included backing a tandem trailer into a parking spot. Who approved these hours during the PM rush hour? They make no sense. Someone has to put the reigns on these guys before there is a problem as this looked like an accident waiting to happen. .

  • MonroeOrange

    and we should expect nothing less from you, than to make ignorant comments.