Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cut

The film crew that’s been shooting a TV pilot in my neighborhood has overstayed its welcome. This isn’t the first production team that’s ever set up shop on my street, but all of the others stuck around for hours or days – not weeks. I’m living in an occupied zone – will the shooting never end?

Earlier this month, there was an extensive(yet evasive) notice on my apartment building’s front door, courtesy of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting, announcing what was about to happen, and encouraging residents to remain patient and cooperative. Years ago, I interviewed for a publicity job within that office, which very likely would have entailed the drafting of comparable memos - I came that close to being part of the problem.

It’s possible that they’re shooting some of their scenes in the middle of the night, while I’m tucked in my bed, dreaming about living in the woods. But from what I’ve witnessed, the occupiers’ favorite times to intensively shoot are during weekday rush hours. When you’re already running late for something important and your mind is elsewhere, there are few scenarios that will catch you more off guard than having a snotty production assistant glide out toward you from nowhere to curtly send you off on an alternative, more roundabout route. One of my neighbors just told me that there’ve been times in the past week when she wasn’t even given the option of an alternative route – she was imperiously instructed to stand in place and wait for a segment to conclude. When the crews aren’t around, they’ll leave their lines of plastic orange cones along the side streets, to remind us that they’ll be back.

As of about 3 years ago, whenever I watch a TV show or a movie that flashes to an outdoor scene that takes place in a densely-populated urban setting, I instantly wonder how many innocent civilian lives were temporarily disrupted by the process. And it’s such an obnoxious temporary disruption. By way of comparison, there’ve been construction crews that have worked in my neighborhood for long periods of time and, in spite of the noise, they were never any trouble. Those crew members were friendly and hardworking, as they performed a service that eventually produced materially beneficial results. But the people of the mainstream entertainment industry consider themselves part of a singularly elite class – their presence is our privilege. We give them our patient cooperation and they give us . . . yet another network-TV police drama (that I predict will be canceled within 14 months of its debut).

2 comments:

  1. Ever any celebrity sightings? That might be the only perk! That and being paid to be an extra, which I guess is not being offered. Living in the woods has its drawbacks, too. The little bridge over the river (a football field-length away from our house) was deemed to have been compromised by the river's flooding several years ago, and we had to drive the long way around to go anywhere for several months, leaving us feeling the way you do about production crews. But who do we get angry at? Mother Nature? Probably a similar feeling of powerlessness...

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  2. Definitely a big annoyance! I guess that's how all the lower Manhattanites felt during all the Sex and the City tapings!

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