Lull Thy Neighbor?Production Alliance Wants Kinder, Gentler Shoots in 'Hoods

The New York Production Alliance is looking at positive ways to lessen disturbances film crews might cause when shooting in city neighborhoods.

Morty Dubin, chair of the alliance and a veteran New York advertising film producer, told Back Stage on Friday that, when film crews go into neighborhoods for on-location scenes, there's obviously going to be some intrusion. The question is, how do we minimize it?

The alliance consists of 60 members who are the cream of New York's film and TV production industry, ranging from film studios to the actors unions. The group formed two years ago to encourage nurturing and growth of the city's film industry. That means involvement in everything from the education of young people interested in careers, to working with government and the public in securing New York as a production mecca providing jobs and adding significantly to the tax base.

Another thing: The NYPA's members are businesses and unions whose management, employees and members mostly live in New York City neighborhoods. They're aware as both professionals and residents of on-location shooting's benefits and detriments.

So when a city council subcommittee recently reported to the mayor's office that it had received a number of complaints from neighborhoods about film shoots, Dubin and the NYPA decided to take action.

The alliance's board met last Thursday "primarily to discuss positive steps," Dubin explained. "We immediately set up study groups because we wanted to act instead of react, and to work as a team in cooperation with the city council, the mayor's office and the industry as a whole."

When Dubin refers to the alliance's "study groups," he means it as in "quick study." He said that the groups would report back to the alliance's board in February.

"This is on the fast track," Dubin confided. "It behooves us to work interactively and in a friendly way with the neighborhoods."

Perhaps no industry group is more aware of the value of New York City's neighborhoods to film production and therefore to the city's economy. Over a year ago, the alliance recommended that the city conduct a study on media's economic impact. City Hall responded: a cooperative effort of the mayor's film office, the comptroller, and the city investment fund. The governor's film and TV office also got involved.

The result: a Boston Consulting Group study which showed that the city's combined film, TV, commercials, and Internet activity generates as much as $10 billion a year and 170,000 jobs.

To keep those successful figures growing, Dubin and the alliance know it takes a community effort.

"We want to cooperate with Pat Scott and her office in ameliorating the situation as best we can," Dubin said of the on-location issue. Scott is director of the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting.