Help! My Apartment Building Is a Movie Set

Q: Tenants at my New Paltz, N.Y., rental building were recently informed by our landlord that a production crew would be filming scenes for a major motion-picture on the property for four days later this month. No one asked us, yet we are being asked for our “understanding” and “cooperation,” which includes moving our vehicles from assigned parking spaces. During the busiest day, 70 people will be on site from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., a violation of the local noise ordinance. Inconvenience aside, it sounds like a potential health hazard during the pandemic. Is this legal? What can be done?

A: You are not going to be able to stop your landlord from renting out the common areas of the building for a movie shoot — a standard lease doesn’t give you that power. You could try to get a rent abatement from your landlord for the days that you are inconvenienced, but you might have more success taking your concerns directly to the production team.

The film crew needs your buy-in to get the work done. Not only could you call the New Paltz police dispatcher and report a noise violation, you could also refuse to move your car.

“The bottom line is happy neighbors are going to result in a happy shoot,” said Nick Carr, a location manager. If the producers “don’t reach out to anyone, then your film crew is going to have to be shutting down because the neighbor decides it’s time for his trumpet lesson.”

So, ask to speak with the location manager. Are you worried about late-night disruptions? If this is a major movie production, it has the money to put you up in a hotel for a few nights. Do you need to get to your car? Someone should arrange for you to have access to it.

“If the question is, ‘Should I be entitled to money for the irritation?’ Well, there are plenty of film shoots that might pay a few hundred bucks” to tenants directly impacted by the shoot, Mr. Carr said. Some productions have been known to give inconvenienced tenants gift cards to local restaurants.

You’re right to be concerned about Covid-19. Ask the location manager to explain the production’s safety protocol, as strict rules should be in place to protect the crew and the community. Production teams “take it very seriously, because not only their life, but their livelihood is depending on them being cautious and careful,” said Andrea Reisfeld, a location agent. “Nobody wants the industry shut down and nobody wants their freelance work taken away from them. And they don’t want to get sick.”

So, be a squeaky wheel. You’re entitled to know what’s happening and have your concerns taken seriously.

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