A discussion over Boston's policy regarding notification about film crews coming to Charlestown streets got somewhat heated Tuesday night, as Charlestown Neighborhood Council member Bill Galvin told a city representative he felt 72 hours notice was not enough.
Galvin had requested in December that someone from the city come in to talk with the council after receiving what he felt was late notice about a production crew coming to Charlestown to do pick-up shots for Donnie Wahlberg’s new reality show, “Boston’s Finest.”
Patricia Papa, film director with the city’s Film Bureau, spoke at the CNC meeting on Jan. 8, saying Boston was one of the strictest cities in the country in which to film.
“Film companies are used to rolling into New York and L.A. and getting whatever they want. That’s not what happens here,” Papa said.
Boston requires crews to provide at least 72 hours notice if they intend to take over a street or occupy parking areas. And Papa said she tries to get crews to provide replacement parking for the duration of the filming, rather than just paying mitigation for the use of the site.
The city also doesn’t allow cameras in public places, such as night clubs and bars. A company wanting to shoot at Warren Tavern, for example, would have to shut down the place and make it a film location—making it impossible to film a show like “Jersey Shore” in Boston.
A&E’s new show, “Southie Rules,” follows one family from South Boston and works around city regulations, Papa said. Another proposal in South Boston, along the lines of “The Real Housewives of Orange County," was shot down because it would put cameras in public places around the city.
Galvin said he felt officials often know in advance when a project is coming to Boston, and he felt someone in the mayor’s office or elsewhere could do a better job of notifying affected neighborhoods.
“We’ll see it in the paper. We know they’re coming to Boston, or into Charlestown. We know they’re scouting sites. But the community doesn’t know about it without two to three days’ notice,” Galvin said.
Papa said that film crews work quickly, making changes suddenly and with little notice. A production team might scout areas they never actually film in or suddenly decide to come into an area they hadn’t planned to use.
“The problem with film is, it’s art,” she said.
Galvin worried in particular about residents who might leave their vehicle parked legally on the street for several days while they went out of town for a business trip, during which time a film crew might suddenly need to clear the street of all cars for a shoot.
Papa noted that, by city law, residents are supposed to check on their vehicles every 48 hours.
District 1 City Councillor Sal LaMattina, who was in attendance for the council’s first meeting of the year, said if a company was doing a major production in the area, they often would hold an abutter’s meeting to let residents know about it in advance.
The discussion involved a lot of back and forth, with no resolution reached.
In the end, Charlestown Neighborhood Council chairman Tom Cunha requested that the Basic Services Committee, of which Galvin is chairman, set up a meeting to discuss the issues further and get more information about exactly what kind of notice is required for major and minor productions.
What do you think? Should film crews be required to notify a community more than 72 hours before they plan to use public ways for filming? Should the city or the company make more of an effort to let residents know about production activity in their neighborhood?