Friday, May 15, 2009

New York City, filming hot spot

There have been SO many films shoots taking place recently. I suppose that many projects have been waiting for slightly warmer weather to start shooting, but on my block alone, West 15th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue, there have been three film shoots in the past month. First, there was the "Untitled Nora Ephron Project," which was shooting in Chelsea Market. According to a crew member I asked, the film is set in LA. Fancy that.

Next, there was The Baster, which stars Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston. For that shoot, I actually had to wade through some paparazzi on the way back from the supermarket. Kind of exciting, I suppose. I have no idea where they’re filming, though, since it seems my block is more of a parking lot for star trailers than an actual shooting location. I saw The Baster a couple days later on my way home from work, shooting deeper in the West Village, so I’m sure at least a couple of recognizable locations will be in the works.

Earlier this week, I saw some kind of production that was like “Obsession” or some kind of lustful, packed noun. They were setting up the camera (in the rain  ) when I left for work so I felt kind of bad.

Then yesterday and today I saw Twelve shooting. On Sunday night, walking home from the F train, I saw The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. They were shooting a car chase scene on 14th St, and even though it was 11pm the whole area was lit up with film lights, there were TWO cranes (i.e. very expensive). I walked home alone 15th st, and saw all the cars they must have been using (or were about to use) for shooting. There were some sick Ferraris, Mercedes, and a bunch of taxis. It was pretty cool, and a lot of people were taking camera phone pictures. Last week a car chase in Times Square went awry and injured a couple people, so I'm glad that they weren't filming anything when I was walking by.

On my walk to work over the past month, I’ve also seen police officers towing cars for an upcoming shoot of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (which, like The Baster, I saw a few days later parked in a different location) and “Ugly Betty.”

I can’t quite figure out why I’ve been seeing so many more productions lately. I definitely think that there are more than usual on my own block than last year, since that is something I certainly would have noticed. But I’m sure my tendency to walk instead of take the subway now that I don’t have a monthly pass, as well as my walk to work, has added to the amount of productions I see in action. Since I’m involved in film myself, I love to see all the shoots going.

New York City’s prominence in movies and television, as well as books, is part of the reason I moved here. I liken the experience of moving to NYC, and experiencing all the places I had seen in the movies, to drinking alcohol for the first time, where I was like, “so THIS is what drinking is like!” and proceeded to try to figure out how Hemingway and Fitzgerald could write drunk, which at the time, especially, seemed absolutely bonkers to me. One part I had never picked up in all the references to drinking was that it felt good. It didn’t just make you slur your words and stumble and say stupid things and ease tension, it felt good. In a specific way that you could only understand after being drunk yourself. Similarly, living in NYC is like the movies in some ways, but also so utterly different, that the only way to really understand is to go there and live there yourself.

I still get a pleasure seeing areas I know on film. I rewind my DVR or movie to pinpoint the location exactly, and press freeze to see if I can make out the cross streets. Reality shows, in particular, seem to love the Meatpacking district, which is right around the corner from me. “The City,” “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” and “Stylista” have all used locations just blocks from me. This is what I love about New York City, knowing that I am living on a “set.” Knowing that where I live has been documented and glamorized, whether it's fact or fiction, makes everything so much more awe-inspiring.

Living in New York City is, more accurately, a mix of awe and practicality. Most days I'm dashing by the beautiful buildings and cafes, but every once in awhile I look up, like a tourist, and see everything in a different light. I can walk around with a little spring in my step, and a small smirk of superiority, when I see the Sex and the City bus tour parked around the corner outside of Buddakan, or when I watch Made of Honor, and Patrick Dempsey drives up to the Starbucks on my way to work. And parks. What is he, crazy? Has the movie abandoned all claim to realism? (unfortunate answers: yes, and yes). I love living in a place that's simultaneously a fantasy and a reality, a cultural zeitgeist, and a place that everyone seems to want to make her own.

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