Ashley Psirogianes, 26 years old, works in fashion marketing and is a huge Sex and the City fan. "I watched it a lot during the lockdown," she said. "I watched all the old episodes again."
On a Tuesday morning in July, during a normal Starbucks coffee run, she was surprised, even excited, to meet the cast and crew who were doing the reboot. The team of hundreds of people took over Crosby Street between Prince and Spring.
No one was allowed on the street unless they lived there or had business that day. A crowd had gathered to catch a glimpse of Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, and Sarah Jessica Parker, and to speculate on what was going on on the scene (Miranda's hair is blonde! Isn't Charlotte wearing her wedding ring?)
"I just walked around the corner and there they were," said Ms. Psirogianes. "I saw her just before lunch."
As someone who lived a few blocks away, she was delighted to share such valuable information. "My group chats all exploded," she said. "A couple of my friends work in the area so everyone tried to go over to catch a glimpse of them."
But it also made her feel like SoHo and New York City in general were back in action. "It's really cool that they're doing this again," she said.
Well into the second year of the pandemic, the streets of New York City are full of film and television footage again. In 2019, the film and television industry supported about 185,000 jobs, $ 18.1 billion in wages and $ 81.6 billion in total economic output in the city, according to the Mayor's Office for Media and Entertainment. Last year, however, all film permits were suspended on March 21st and only resumed on July 1st. This year there were around 360 projects in April and May alone. In 2020, a total of 732 film and television projects were shot in the city, a significant decrease from the 2,214 projects in 2019. Even after the recent return of activities, the mayor's office does not expect this year's number to match 2019 levels.
For days, film teams conquer streets and corners of the city, crowding the squares with trailers and trucks and preventing cars from parking and pedestrians from walking. While some residents complain about the hustle and bustle or the lack of parking spaces, many others are happy about a short stay in a film set. Some lucky New Yorkers are asked to be extras or are paid by the production teams to do small, helpful tasks, like turning a certain light on or off in their apartment.
The pandemic has made shooting street life either a joy or a terrifying experience. Some people panic at the sight of large teams descending on their block. Others find it exhilarating to be part of this campaign after such a quiet year.
At the end of March, plays, concerts, and other performances were still banned in New York City. But Kate Walter, 72, a writer and retired college professor, loved the live entertainment right outside her door.
The cast and crew of the Amazon television series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", about a late 1950s Jewish housewife who becomes a stand-up comedian, shot the fourth season on the streets of the West Village where she lives.
They used the courtyard of Mrs. Walter's house in Bethune between Washington and West Streets for hair and makeup. For several days she watched actors getting in and out of caravans, women wrapped in pencil skirts and pearls, and men in vintage suits and fedoras. "It was so fun because they were all wearing those 50s outfits with masks," she said.
They were filming scenes in Abingdon Square, two blocks away, and the nearby streets were full of vintage cars and old city buses. “Everyone just hung out and raved about these old cars,” says Ms. Walter. "All the neighbors were there trying to catch a glimpse of what they were filming."
For Mrs. Walter, life in the middle of the action provided much-needed fun. "At that point things were still closed," she said. “That was free entertainment on the street. It made me feel like New York City was alive again and coming back. "
Some New Yorkers made some money from the experience.
"I'm one of the lucky ones," said Nicholas Platt-Hepworth, 35, who works in finance. He lives on Commerce Street, in a quiet, quaint corner of the West Village. That summer, his street was taken over by A Journal for Jordan, a film based on the memoirs of Dana Canedy, a former New York Times journalist, directed by Denzel Washington and starring Michael B. Jordan and Chante Adams starring. Then, almost immediately after they left, the team from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, who had been shooting outdoors all spring and summer, showed up to shoot in the same location.
Because the sets are so big and intrusive, the producers knock on his door before filming and introduce themselves. "Denzel's guy was so nice," said Mr. Platt-Hepworth. “We are still in contact. We're trying to meet up for coffee. ”He was given $ 1,000 for the movie and $ 500 for the TV show to keep the lights on in his apartment until 2am to help the camera crews, which are more at night Needed light for filming.
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It was exhilarating to live in the middle of the sets for a few days. He and his neighbors made cocktails to watch what was happening on the sidewalk. He met many of the actors, including Mr. Jordan. He also learned more than he wanted about how films are made. "The only thing it taught me is that I can never work in film," he said. “You spend hours filming a minute. Most of the time everyone stands around and waits. "
Even so, the activity becomes tiring and he is always ready for the crews to pack and go home. "Do I ever miss 300 people crowding my street?" He said. "Absolutely not." But he added, “At least I'm getting paid. Others have to deal with it and get nothing. "
While larger films draw viewers in, which might be good for local businesses, they also block entire streets and blocks of the city for hours or days. Companies operating in the security zone can suffer, said Chris McCormack, the chief concierge of the Crosby Street Hotel. Hotelstrasse was temporarily closed in July during the filming of “Sex and the City”.
"There are always guests wanting to know what's going on and it's a little exciting, but for most it's a fleeting trouble," he said. “Getting back to the hotel on your own can be difficult. They tell me it took their car an hour to get around the corner. "
Film and television recordings can often feel like they appeared out of nowhere. About two days before the date stated on a film crew's permit, signs will be posted on light poles and trees announcing that something is coming and parking will be restricted. Crew members collapse with cones to block the room as soon as a parked car drives out. Parking is often devoured for several blocks, most of it for trailers full of gear.
People who live in the neighborhood usually don't know exactly when filming will start or where it will take place, as production companies don't always use all of the time and space allotted in the permit. They're usually not sure until a security guard prevents them from walking down their street because of a live recording going on.
People looking for a celebrity sighting get frustrated at times. Often times, extras appear hours before the main stars. Even with the entire cast present, there is so much security and so much equipment and staff that you can't always see them. "You wait there and think you will see them, but it will be 20 minutes before you know," said Ms. Psirogianes. "You start to ask yourself: 'What am I waiting for?" "
For some New Yorkers, watching movies and film screenings on the street is part of their daily life. They were just as upset that no production trucks lined their streets during the pandemic as they saw their favorite bar or restaurant closed.
Zach Groth, 29, who works in wine and spirits marketing, saw Blacklist, an NBC drama about a criminal mastermind, filmed on his street near Cooper Square at least once a month before the pandemic. “When I walked to the N, Q, R train every morning, I always thought to myself that I was probably standing in the background,” he said. “I used to see the show not because I liked it, but because I was looking for myself. I'd rewind it all the time to make sure. ”He was so familiar with the crews' operations and where the refreshment stations were set up that he knew what they ate at each meal.
He'll never forget the day he saw the first trailer return. "Seeing filming go from 100 percent to zero overnight really made me feel the severity of the New York City shutdown," he said. “When it came back I thought we'd get through this. People will find a way to make this work. "
The pandemic has made other New Yorkers weary of the crowds, and film crews have had to find ways to appease nervous residents.
In April, "Only Murders in the Building," a Hulu crime series starring Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez, was filmed in the courtyard of an iconic apartment building on West 86th Street.
"On the first day, the crew and cast in the courtyard didn't wear masks, and I went ballistic," said Meryl Gordon, professor and biographer at New York University who has lived in the building since 1983. “I screamed so loud that I … turn it off for a moment. ”
The production crew came back and decided to appease the residents by involving them in the action. They offered to pay $ 465 to those who wanted to be extras for a day.
Rebecca Horn, 34, who works as a celebrity booker and moved in with her parents during the pandemic, accepted the offer. Unlike many of her older neighbors, she hadn't been bothered by the filming. "It definitely made it more interesting to be stuck in your apartment," she said. “After being alone for so long, it was nice to have so many people like photographers and the crew gathered around. I would watch them from my window or go outside and watch from the courtyard. "
When she was an extra – "I don't think I can tell you what it is because it'll give it away, but I'll say everyone in the cast was on my scene," she said – her parents invited theirs Brother and his a family out to dinner so they can all watch them from the window. She also made friends with another extra, a woman her age who also lives in the building, but whom she hadn't met before filming.
This city should be fun and exciting, ”she said. "Things like that are a big part of life in New York City."
Megan Broussard, 34, who lives on the 25th and Madison and works as a television producer, would agree.
A show called "Ghost" was filmed in early July, and blanket clearance forms were posted on their block stating that anyone who passed a certain point on the street could appear in a shot.
Every morning she took her dog to Madison Square Park, excited by the prospect that her everyday activities could be captured on film. "If I pick up my dog's poop, could I end up in the background of a romantic kissing scene?" She said. "Isn't that why we live in New York City?"
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