As spring has progressed, I have made an exciting, insightful, and terrifying discovery; I live in a place popular for film shoots. It all started two months ago, when a film code named “Iron Side” was scheduled to be shot in my very own apartment building. Another movie had a shoot in my neighborhood later, called Animal Rescue, which apparently has Tom Hardy and other stars, and there have been shoots by Adidas. All in all, there’s been a film or photo shoot here for something very well known in my neighborhood — literally using the road in front of my apartment building and the surrounding streets — every week for over a month.
Having so much filming originally seemed like it would be amazing; who doesn’t want to live near the center of Hollywood action? Iron Side ended up being the phrase that the Spider Man 2 team was using so it wasn’t so well known where they were. But there have been issues, especially for myself and my roommates, people who live on the top floor of the building that apparently is the must-film location of the summer!
Spider Man 2 caused the first problems as soon as they began filming, because they filmed on my roof (AKA my ceiling). They started at about 6:30 AM and had no qualms with being as loud as they pleased. They slowly packed more and more stuff into my hall until they literally blocked my door that afternoon, because they had no idea anyone even lived there, and my friend had to tell them politely to make a path.
A few weeks later, I got home in the afternoon and decided to take a nap, only to discover that another, smaller movie was filming on my roof, this time with a chainsaw. Needless to say, my only solace was slamming pot lids together to irritate them (I’m so mature).
This last Saturday, Spider Man 2 returned to filming. The good news is they were not on my roof this time; the bad news is they were blocking off the street in front of my building since it’s apparently so photogenic, and they had taken all the parking spaces in a three block radius. When I made my way down the street towards my apartment that morning, a woman in a green coat with a radio asked me to move out of the road. I simply walked out of the road but didn’t acknowledge her, clearly a bit perturbed, but my boyfriend looked her squarely in the face and said that people lived here and she was disturbing them. She said nothing.
We left again a bit later for a walk around the park near my home, and when we returned they were still filming. As we approached my building the same woman was there, and, this time, with a little less enthusiasm, she told us that we couldn’t use the street. Again, I said nothing, and this time my boyfriend said less but made her aware, again, that she and the crew were an unwanted presence.
Throughout the day I watched them below me, and while I tried to remain passive I couldn’t help but let a bit of derision enter my voice whenever I thought of them. These people had come here, without my permission, without asking me, for their own personal gain; envy and hostility were pretty well warranted. When rain started pouring so much that a flash flood alert came up on my phone, and the film crew below scattered to the safety of their tents, I will admit I reveled in their misfortune a bit.
Later that day, I left for yoga and parted with my boyfriend. After I got back from yoga, I encountered a man blocking my street, because, much to my chagrin, filming had resumed when the rain subsided. He tried to stop me feebly, but I cut his, “We’re filming this way” short with a terse “I live here.” As I progressed, that same woman I had seen twice before was there again, guarding the street south of mine. As I passed she feebly asked, “Are you going to 135?” and I ignored her, not making a sound, my face a mask of ice.
It wasn’t until I got inside that my feeling of triumph was replaced by shame; her voice hadn’t had any edge to it, or confidence, it was the voice of someone who was defeated. The truth of, for every person like me — walking by without acknowledging her — there were probably people who verbally berated her for merely doing her job. She was just as innocent and irritated as I was. It wasn’t even the filmmaker’s who necessarily caused this; places like DUMBO offer incentives for people to film there because it makes them more exciting and can help local businesses. The people who own my building probably also got paid directly to have films shot here, and just chose not to inform their tenants or give them any breaks in rent despite making money off our inconvenience.
After hearing the dejection in that woman’s voice, a post that was meant to merely be a cathartic rant has become something I’m much more proud of; it’s a story of remembering that people are people. We aren’t all callous, and when we cause each other grief we generally do care. Those people who make the movies you love — or love to hate — aren’t above you, they’re just as susceptible to be put in bad situations as you are. The proof is in front of my home on a weekly basis. The problem is the people who don’t deal with this personally, who don’t see the people they inconvenience. In the end, lots of people end of being frustrated by an industry that, for all its apparent glamor, is slow, tedious, and trifling.
Despite all this, I think I could’ve forgiven them if I had been offered some ice cream, though.