Movie Sets in New York
People first became interested in movie sets during the Marilyn Monroe era, and often crowds would gather to watch a scene play out, take after take until the director was satisfied. During the filming of ‘The Seven Year Itch’, hoards of reporters, photographers and onlookers alike surrounded the townhouse on East 61st Street and what is now the most famous subway grate on Lexington Avenue, all eager to catch a glimpse of the actress. It was much the same in the early 1960s when Audrey Hepburn was filming in front of the Tiffany’s store on Fifth Avenue. In fact, very little has changed in the past 60 years. Film crews continue to shutdown streets and avenues for long periods of time whilst the paparazzi grab the opportunity to take money-making stills and New Yorkers attempt to find alternative routes to and from work.
For many years though, New York was considered far too expensive and logistically difficult to serve as a film location, and that was main reason Los Angeles hosted so many quintessentially New York shows, including "Seinfeld" and "NYPD Blue." On studio back-lots in Hollywood, a "New York street" was a common feature. It has only been recently that the Big Apple has begun to upstaged Tinsel Town for film location shoots, TV shows and premieres. Entertainment industry experts pointed to New York's incentives as the biggest reason for the state's growing film and TV production business and much of the credit for revitalizing New York's entertainment industry goes to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his film commissioner, Katherine Oliver.
To make the city film-friendly, it provided free police assistance to crews and discounts to filmmakers using local vendors, and worked with a Brooklyn non-profit group to train low-income New Yorkers as production assistants. Several new soundstages have now sprouted up across the state of New York. In Staten Island, work is underway to convert a former state prison into a 100,000-square-foot production complex. On Long Island, former aerospace hangars has been converted to soundstages and at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, Steiner Studios has constructed 10 soundstages in the last decade. The 26-acre complex, which is home to "Boardwalk Empire" and other shows, also recently partnered with the city and Carnegie Mellon University to house a media technology program. All the activity has resulted in some grumbling from notoriously impatient New Yorkers who are increasingly forced to share streets and sidewalks with film crews.
Social media now plays a big part in prompting interest and providing the whereabouts of a movie set. One website in particular that has been leading the way in announcing on-street film productions is ‘On Location Vacation’. Created by Christine Bord, OLV as it is also known has been posting daily production sightings since 2006. “I started OLV as a Grad School project, and now it’s my full time job,” explained Christine. Mainly focusing on US cities such as California, Illinois, New Mexico, North Carolina and New York, the website provides a daily list of film and television project titles, a brief inventory of starring actors and the street location where the filming is suspected to be taking place. This information is also sent out to email subscribers and posted on Twitter. “The information posted in my daily filming locations all comes from tips from readers across the country.” Christine adds, “It is not lost on me how extremely lucky I am to have so many people contributing to the site each day. But, I also know it has little to do with me and more to do with this amazing community of fans who are happy to help each other figure out where their favourite stars are filming. I always say I'm just the messenger!”
Since the Smart Phone replaced the digital camera, there has been a significant increase of selfie-style images being posted on Instagram within seconds of the photograph being taken, which helps to provides an immediate verification that a film production is taking place. Whilst another helpful source is the Mayor’s Office in New York, who will often attach ‘No Parking Notices’ to lamp posts in advance of a production company’s arrival, giving details of the film title and the period of time expected to be in that area.
This year, New York has seen several big budget movies descend on its streets with Megan Fox re-establishing her role as April O’Neil in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel sub-titled ‘Half Shell’, which has been filming in Times Square and the bar at the corner of 7th and Avenue B. George Clooney was spotted a few months ago in Wall Street shooting the thriller, ‘Money Monster’ which is directed by Jodie Foster, and the romantic comedy, ‘How to Be Single’ starring Alison Brie, Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson has been shooting for the past few months in SoHo, the Financial District and Central Park.
OLV is updated daily with new content, on-going film locations and on set photographs.
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