Imagine if you will, a man with a
cigar in one hand and a cordless phone in the other, standing in a window much like the
ones you see here.
The windows of a small man
That was the scene on Monday night at about 10:30. Everyone agrees it was
an unfortunate situation, one marked by extraordinary frustration, you have to
assume on both sides.
That's because the makers of Cherry are doing their best
to make their movie without unduly inconveniencing their neighbors near Leila's Muffin
Shop. But there is one neighbor who appears to be intractable.
A few weeks ago I wrote a "Making
Cherry" story about the change of production schedule, about the extraordinary
circumstance of a low budget production adding eight extra shooting days. In the story I
discussed a few reasons for the changes, but the one that got the shortest shrift was
perhaps the most materially important. A movie that had four all-nighters scheduled was
suddenly told that all exterior production had to be shut down at 11 P.M., courtesy of a
Hoboken ordinance that had until that point had been waived for the production.
Sevey and Eddy, along with all the others usual involved in matters
such as this, scrambled. Meetings and phone calls flew. Favors were called, all the usual
crisis control elements were put in place. There were arguments and negotiating and I was
asked not to report on the details because nobody wanted to inflame the situation.
So I mentioned that there were location problems, but
didn't specify what they were.
As it turns out, the problems had far less to do with the
town of Hoboken than was at first thought. Because film productions spend money the town,
in principle, welcomes them (earlier this week a Paramount production, Rounders,
starring Matt Damon and the ill-starred Daniel Baldwin, was shooting down the street from Cherry's
Hoboken location for a couple of days) and every effort is made to ensure that a
production's time in the city is productive and happy.
But even the city's officials could not stifle the little
man and little woman who live next door to Leila's Muffin Shop.
If something happened to provoke their wrath, no one knows
what it was. Everyone on the crew was told, from the first location scouts, that these
people were sensitive about the production being near their house. In nearly a month of
production, I have not noticed crew members loitering on the sidewalk outside of their
In fact, just the opposite. There has been, it seems, a
hypersensitivity and respect for the neighbor's rights. And at night the crew has been
"You have never seen thirty working people be so
still," Terry said to me about the crew's behavior
Monday night. "It's as if they aren't there."
Bloomfield Avenue, Hoboken
Which isn't to say that you could miss the fact that a
movie was shooting on the street. There is big equipment, and big lights, and a couple of
cops directing (and stopping) traffic. It is inconvenient and can be a disruptive process.
Still, efforts can and have been made by the Cherry crew, above those
made by the production, to satisfy the local citizenry.
Monday night Phil had a
crane set up to shoot a scene in which Dottie and Darcy close up the muffin shop. As the
girls walk down the street following a comic bit, the camera raises up into the air so
that we can see Leila sitting in her living room (above the muffin shop) reading.
It's a pretty shot that begins with a big laugh (Aleksa and Heather
are very funny), and while it isn't terribly complicated, anytime you have a crane and a
full move like this, coupled with a couple of performances, you have to be better than
good. You have to be lucky.
Of course, it took a few takes and that's when the
The neighbor didn't heed the PA's request that he stop
because the camera was rolling. The little man strode past. Trailing a little ways behind
him was another man. It seems the two had worked out a routine.
The other man said, "How ya doing ____?" the
blank being a man's name.
"About as well as can be expected," _______
replied, "with these assholes here."
The take ruined, Jon called
out, "Hey, watch your language." And the neighbor flew off the handle.
There are various accounts of what happened next. While
they differ in some details, all are fundamentally the same when it comes down to the
1) The neighbor challenged Jon and called him an asshole.
2) Jon stepped forward angrily.
3) The neighbor threatened to punch Jon, even though he is
much shorter and smaller than Jon.
4) Eddy got between the two men and tried to stop Jon from
doing something stupid. He succeeded.
5) One of the cops on the location came over in response to
6) The neighbor asked the cop to do something.
7) Jon retreated to let the cop do his job.
8) The neighbor claimed Jon threatened him.
9) The cop said if the neighbor didn't calm down and stop
threatening Jon he was going to have to arrest him.
10) The neighbor went inside, appearing moments later in
the window with a cigar and the phone, poised to call the precinct house to shut down the
production at exactly 11 PM.
Everybody involved in the production says that this
reaction came without provocation, that the couple just don't like film productions in
In the negotiations that have been ongoing since the
beginning of location scouting, the production has offered the neighbor couple a goodly
sum of money and a room at the Plaza Hotel on any night they might be bothered by the
production. In a perverse way, you have to admire them for declining.
"They don't have a personal problem with us, they say
they have no problem with us," assistant locations manager Matt Schwartz said to me. "They just don't like film
But they are having a pronounced effect on the making of Cherry.
Still, Matt says he doesn't consider that to be much of a story: "He's just a
footnote on this production," he said, "like a snowstorm or rain."
But for a production that has been fortunate to have seen
one the driest and most temperate winters ever, the neighbor has been a pain.
"It's not like Jon called him an asshole," Terry
said. "He called Jon an asshole."
"Write the story," Jon said to me. "It's not
like we have anything to lose anymore. We've taken his best shot and we're going to finish
our movie and move on. We just wish he'd move on, too."
Which is in keeping with Sevey's comment: "It isn't
that this is unusual. You almost always have somebody upset with you when you're shooting
on location. But usually it's for one night. This guy might be the worst I've seen because
he's so unrelenting. He doesn't show any quit."