Forest Hills Becoming a Haven for Film, Television Shoots

By Nigel Chiwaya on November 20, 2012 8:57am 

QUEENS — Lights, camera...Ascan Avenue?

Forest Hills is known for its shopping and Tudor-style homes, but the neighborhood is also quietly  turning into a miniature Hollywood, becoming a hotbed for filming in recent months.

The leafy area has been the filming location for several films, television shows, commercials and student productions during the past few months, and those in the neighborhood are definitely aware of the trend.

"Definitely within the past year, it's picked up," said city Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, whose office is notified whenever a film shoot is going to take place in the neighborhood.

"We don't mind them doing this. It's very good economically."

According to the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting, 14 productions have received permits to film in Forest Hills since April. Two of the permits have gone to feature films, and six have gone to TV productions, including the hit shows "Boardwalk Empire," "Elementary" and "Blue Bloods." The rest went to student films, commercials and other productions.

The filming locations have been varied: the television show "Angry Nation" filmed along 68th Avenue and Fleet Street, while the film "Black Dog, Red Dog," starring Olivia Wilde and James Franco, shot at Russell Place in Forest Hills Gardens.

"Boardwalk Empire" filmed along Metropolitan Avenue, while "Blue Bloods," which has filmed in Forest Hills several times, taped scenes along Ascan Avenue. "Elementary" shot scenes on Austin Street between Yellowstone Boulevard and 69th Road.

Forest Park has been a particularly popular location, with eight shoots taking place within the park since April. One film that taped there was "Butterflies of Bill Baker," a thriller about a man with violent night terrors. The film shot in Forest Park because a crew member lived nearby.

"One of my crew members lives around the area," said Sania Jhankar, the film's director. "She was looking for similar woods for a couple of scenes, and she recommended that space. We explored a few places but once we saw the space, we said, 'This is good.'"

Michael Leggett, a film scout who has appeared as an extra on "Blue Bloods," explained that the area was chosen in part because of its residential look.

"Forest Hills has that nice suburban flavor to it," said Leggett, who currently produces "The Kong Show on Blip," an online vaudville sketch show. "It's also very convenient. It's easy to get to."

One production even took Forest Hill's suburban flavor and transported it back in time.

"Zero Hour," an upcoming ABC show that filmed in Forest Hills in September, transformed Station Square into early-20th century Germany, complete with a new facade for Jade, a Thai restaurant in the square.

Raymond Taylor, Jade's general manager, said that the production staff picked Station Square because it closely matched their vision.

"They chose it due to the authentic European look," said Taylor, 40, who has worked at Jade for two years. Taylor added that the production crew also made the restaurant its de-facto base of operations during filming.

Jade has welcomed the film work, as Taylor said the restuarant is on the city's list of production-friendly venues.

"It's a chaos to have filming, and not everyone can put up with it," he said. "But it's something we're comfortable with. It makes sense for us, and it makes sense for the community when it's done properly."

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