Chinatown Fights Back Against Proliferation of ‘Disrespectful’ Film Shoots

Posted on: September 30th, 2019 at 5:07 am by

The frequency of film shoots and the negative impacts on local residents is receiving renewed attention in the halls of City Council.

Chinatown and the Lower East Side, in particular, are popular neighborhoods for productions due to that (rapidly disappearing) old New York feel. Have been for years, and are often a major interruption for residents. For instance, dumping literal tons of dirt across Orchard and Broome Streets to recreate 1800s New York for The Knick; or constructing a mock Little Italy on the same exact block last year for the Netflix-Martin Scorsese mob flick, The Irishman. Some filming even poses a danger, such as the Nicholas Cage feature ten years ago, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, during which pyrotechnics and confetti caused flooding and ceiling collapse in at least one Eldridge Street apartment.

Filming The Knick, Nov. 2013

And of course, lest we forget arguments with power-tripping production assistants who won’t let people pass.

Amidst this backdrop, the New York City Council’s Committees on Technology and Small Business Services held a contentious hearing last Thursday on the film industry’s impact. Citing the disproportionately high number of film shoots in Lower Manhattan, Councilwoman Margaret Chin grilled officials from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME)—including new Commissioner Anne del Castillo—about the lack of City oversight of the film industry.

The committee also reviewed a suite of bills aimed at combating the onslaught of filming in residential neighborhoods.

  • Intro 1495: Creates a local community and media bill of rights
  • Intro 0158: Mandates that the permit application fees for filming on City property are high enough to cover the costs to the City of reviewing and processing the application
  • Intro 0937: Requires production companies to provide advanced 72-hour notice when shooting will disrupt traffic
  • Intro 1515: Establishes task force to study the impacts and benefits of the film industry
  • Intro 1700: Requires those applying for a film, television production or photography permit to file their application no less than 14 days prior to the date of shooting
  • Intro 1722: Requires certain applicants for film and television production permits to pay a $800 fee to cover the costs to the City of providing the permit

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