South Williamsburg is no longer a Hollywood backlot.
That’s the message sent by city officials this week when they gave the neighborhood a three-month reprieve from film and television shoots — a re-write sought by a handful of residents who say that production crews have turned their community into a soundstage.
The city told film crews to “Take five” because the neighborhood bounded by Kent and Bedford avenues, and South Second and South Eighth streets has hosted a large number of recent shoots, including “Gossip Girl,” “The Unusuals,” and “Law and Order.”
The neighborhood also played a major role in last year’s action film, “American Gangster.”
“Based upon those factors, we will temporarily restrict filming in certain areas that have been significantly impacted,” said Marybeth Ilhe, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting.
Indeed, it’s hardly the first time that film crews have gotten bad reviews in Brooklyn — and it isn’t the first time that the city has issued a movie-making moratorium. Two years ago, Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO were temporarily deemed no-film zones.
Several projects that had already begun filming in the neighborhood will be allowed to finish over the next few weeks, Ilhe added.
Some residents of South Williamsburg, which is a popular locale for film shoots thanks to its gritty urban look and proximity to Manhattan, are pleased with the decision.
“I’m not against movies, but they can make things inconvenient,” said community activist Isaac Abraham, who is one of six candidates vying for the seat currently held by Councilman David Yassky (D-Williamsburg), who is running for Comptroller. “If they take a week or so, it’s not a problem, but when these things have been going on month after month for years, it’s annoying.”
At the end of the day, it wasn’t the lights, the cameras or the action that turned South Williamsburgers against the film shoots — it was the parking.
“There’s no parking here already, then they come here and occupy these spots for weeks and weeks with their trailers,” said Leo Moskowitz, who lives on Kent Avenue. “They are taking over our lives for just a little bit of money.”
Parking spaces seem to be the spark that ignites the fire of South Williamsburg residents, many of whom are still irate about a pair of long-planned bike lanes that replaced parking spaces along Kent Avenue last year.
But deeming South Williamsburg off-limits to filming — or adding it to the “hot list,” as insiders call it — could actually come at a cost to the neighborhood.
“A lot of people tend to be a little bit over territorial, but what they don’t realize is that if they can deal with just a little bit of trouble, it will do their neighborhood and the city a whole lot of good,” said location scout Richard Hobbs, who claims that film crews can be a boon for local businesses.
“There are always going to be sensitive areas in the city, but the good thing is that this a big city,” Hobbs added.
“If Williamsburg is on the hot list right now, you go somewhere else.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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