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Lights, Camera...Cut! Brooklyn Heights Residents Want Filming to Stop

By Janet Upadhye | December 6, 2012 7:35am

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Some Brooklyn Heights residents have had it with the constant filming in their quaint cobblestoned neighborhood.

During October and November, at least 14 productions — including "Delivery Man," "Smash", "Law & Order: SVU," "Golden Boy," "Zero Hour," and "Person of Interest" — were filmed in the area.

“Our streets are overrun with cranes, film crews, trailers, tents and large trucks,” said Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association. “At times it is hard for residents to leave their homes, enter local businesses, park or simply walk down the street.”

This week, the film "Winter’s Tale" is shooting at six locations throughout Brooklyn Heights. The large-scale production’s cast includes Will Smith, Russell Crowe, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Connelly.

But neighbors are more concerned with problems associated with the 19th-century set, flying white horses and fake snow, than the star-studded cast.

“Imagine every single thing that looks like the 21st century being removed from your block,” Stanton said. “Add snow blankets, and a horse with its double, and it’s a lot for our small streets to take.”

However, others are proud that their neighborhood generates such buzz and find Hollywood actors on their streets exciting.

“Colin Farrell was riding up and down the street outside my apartment on a white horse last week. Now that’s not something you see every day,” wrote one anonymous blogger. “No real inconvenience to me and the crew even scrubbed clean some graffiti on the fence across the way.”

Still, local Councilman Steve Levin and a group of community members are determined to save their neighborhood from the glittery jaws of the film industry.

Levin recently issued a statement asking the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting to issue a temporary moratorium on filming in Brooklyn Heights. 

“I understand and respect the fact that the movie and television industry provides revenue for the city and employs a number of New Yorkers," Levin said in a statement. "But residents of a single neighborhood, especially one that is primarily residential like Brooklyn Heights, should not have to bear the burden of on-street filming on an almost daily basis.”

Brooklyn Heights pet store owner Andrea Demetropoulos circulated a petition to ask the mayor’s office for a reprieve from the constant filming. She currently has more than 40 signatures.

Demetropoulos’ small business has suffered from the constant shoots. During filming for the Coen Brothers' 2008 movie "Burn After Reading" starring Brad Pitt, customers were not allowed to walk in her shop.

“I would care less about Brad Pitt,” she said. “I do, however, care about my customers.”

Demetropoulos, along with Stanton and a group of residents, recently sat down with members of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting to voice their concerns.

“We did not find a resolution,” Demetropoulos said. “But we did get more clarity on how the industry works.”

Demetropoulos said she does respect the fact that the film industry is a vital part of the city’s economy.

The local production industry is made up of 130,000 New Yorkers and brings $7.1 billion to the city’s economy each year, according to Marybeth Ihle, spokeswoman for the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment.

“The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment is working with the community and elected officials to address their concerns about filming in Brooklyn Heights," she explained.

"We always communicate with and take into account community feedback so that New York City can remain film friendly.”