Brooklyn Heights

Film crews flood Brooklyn Heights once again, and local merchants say business is hurting

May 10, 2018 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Film crews and their trucks are filling the narrow streets of Brooklyn Heights once again. Eagle photo by Will Hasty

It’s not your imagination — film crews and their paraphernalia are filling the narrow streets of Brooklyn Heights once again.

Since the beginning of 2018, there have been 157 daily shooting permits issued for ZIP code 11201, according to the city — up from the previous heavy production period in 2015, when there were 130 permits issued.

Back then, following complaints from fed-up Heights locals, the city clamped down on filming from January 2016 through April 2017 in the part of Brooklyn Heights from Pierrepont Street to Atlantic Avenue, between Hicks and Court streets.

The issue divided the neighborhood, with some locals complaining of limited parking and congestion, while others profited from renting their homes as sets.

The frustration is building again.

“First of all, they bring their own foods. The guys working here, they’re not eating on Montague Street, that’s number one,” said George Chamoun, owner of Monty Q’s pizza at 158 Montague St. “Plus, the customers pull up, there’s no place to park.”

Chamoun added that deliveries take far longer because his drivers “have to park down by Smith Street.”

“The filming here is very exciting for Brooklyn Heights I’m sure,” added Michael McCabe, executive chef at the Brooklyn Heights Wine Bar and Kitchen at 50 Henry St. “People come out to see the stars. Unfortunately, it has a slight negative effect on our business. You have all the sets, the lighting and they close down the streets.”

A spokesperson for the city’s media office, pointed out that this year’s 157 permits were issued to a wide variety of projects, ranging from still photography, web series and student projects to television pilots. Many of these permits represent “very small, low-impact projects,” the spokesperson said.

“Also, please note that one ‘shoot’ or show can require multiple permits, for each day of shooting,” the spokesperson added.

The city also said that production has gone up citywide in recent years, especially of episodic TV series. Episodic TV series generate longer term, steadier jobs that other kinds of productions.

“We do know that the number of pilots in the city was up sharply this year,” the spokesperson said.

The city monitors and identify areas that may need a “temporary respite” from filming, as Brooklyn Heights enjoyed in 2016, the spokesperson said.

“We are always willing to put blocks on moratorium if there are many complaints,” the spokesperson added. “Note that of the more than one million complaints to 3-1-1, fewer than 100 of them are complaints about filming activity due to the fact that our office is very responsive when communities demand a break.”