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NYC film industry opposes proposed disclosure bill on location shoots

A crew films in New York City.

A crew films in New York City. Photo Credit: iStock

Moviemakers and the de Blasio administration gave thumbs down Wednesday to a City Council bill meant to let the public know more about the productions that take over their neighborhoods.

The legislation, sponsored by Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn), would require the city to post monthly reports of information such as where a film shoot occurred, how long the filming lasted, whether the public lost on-street parking and, if so, how much.

Under the current system, there is no central place for the public to find such information, meaning critics must rely on anecdotes when complaining their neighborhoods are overburdened by productions.

A more controversial provision of the legislation seeks more from the industry such as how many people the industry employs, their salaries, and other demographic information about workers like age, race, sex and borough of residence.

"It's very small-minded. No offense. But it's really about local people's parking concerns," Stuart Match Suna, president of Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, said in testimony at the end of the nearly three-hour-long hearing.

Officials from the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment said the disclosure requirements were particularly onerous by requiring producers to disclosure information they consider proprietary, like their costs of doing business. Such red tape, the officials said, could encourage makers of television shows, movies and commercials to go elsewhere.

Cynthia López, the office's commissioner, said the administration does not support the legislation as written.

"My concern with the bill is ... in terms of the amount of information that it is requesting, how it could send a message ... that New York City is no longer film-friendly," López said.

Supporters of the bill want a tool to show when neighborhoods are chosen for film shoots, reflecting a common complaint that some locations favored by filmmakers face far more frequent such disruption than others. Advocates also say the data disclosure would help show how beneficial the industry is or isn't to the city.

"Let 'em go to Toronto if they're not going to hire our people and be part of our inclusive opportunity agenda," said Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn).

The future of the bill, which is before the council's Committee on Technology, is uncertain. As written, it lacks support of committee's chairman, Councilman James Vacca (D-Bronx).

"I think it needs revisions," Vacca said. "While I want to make sure local neighborhoods are not overly burdened, I also want to make sure that we assist an industry that produces tax revenue for the city and assists small businesses surrounding their shoots."

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