12.23.97

Making Cherry

A Real Life Ongoing Soap Opera and Instruction Manual About the Making of a Movie Called "Cherry"


Locations:
Holiday Hiatus
Principals:
Office: Becky
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Location... Location... Location...

It's not always who you are. It could be where you are.

"…so, we had Mickey Rourke and the money, and then on the day we’re to start preproduction I get a call: No Mickey Rourke. Well, that was that."

The man is standing in the window at Leila’s Muffin Shop, a converted shoe store somewhere on the back streets of Hoboken NJ. He is sharply dressed and well-groomed, and though his voice is soaked with a Jersey accent he is clearly educated and smart. He’s talking to Eddy in a way that evinces a certain authority, and Eddy treats him with respect.

They are negotiating, it seems, and the man is letting Eddy know that he knows what Eddy’s job is, which means that he is sympathetic with Eddy’s problems, but has problems of his own. This is clearly a man who wants to be a movie producer. But he also has something to say about Cherry.

His name, it turns out, is Lieutenant Tony Falco, and he is the officer from the Hoboken Police Department who works with film productions that shoot in town. Cherry has three locations in Hoboken, so by default the Lieutenant is an important part of the making of the movie.

This is not the first time these men have met. They've worked together in the past, and the Cherry location team has been conferring with him for months. Which doesn't mean this meeting is easy.

The issues are many: Eddy suggests the production will park its trucks, unload the gear, then park elsewhere, to make the parking situation for those in the neighborhood easier, but Falco says it’s better to leave the trucks on the street. That way, when the production does need the spots the police won’t have to tow the locals’ cars.

What parking spots does the production need? Joe and Phil review all the various shots at the location. Although the story takes place in modern times the movie needs to control the cars immediately outside the muffin shop windows, otherwise someone with a red car might take their car away between takes, spoiling the continuity.

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Phil says: "During the day it’s red cars. At night, it’s white cars. We are looking out the window here and I just don’t want to see any white cars parked down there. It isn't that they don't look nice. It's just that they’re impossible to light."

Which means tying up a few more parking spots during the night shoots.

There are other spots that have to be clear so the crane can move freely. That means one night and one day on the side street. On another night that means clearing the main street.

And the stop sign! Shortly after the Lieutenant and his assistant drive off Phil says: "This stop sign has to go. It’s in the way." It is on the street corner right in front of the muffin shop.

"I don't think it looks bad," someone says, but Phil isn't looking at the sign. It's the way its pole will block his dolly and crane moves that is the problem. Dealing with traffic isn't an issue either. All agree that a portable stop sign will be used to stop traffic.

But the location manager, Joe, looks concerned: "In New York, he says, we’d just cut the sign off at the bottom and then when we were done we’d bolt the top and the bottom together. Good as new, though an inch shorter. That would work here, but it may not be allowed. This is Hoboken. I'll have to ask."

The difference is the size of the city, the number of productions shot here and the sophistication of the city’s apparatus for dealing with filmmakers. The New York City Mayor’s Office for Film and Television was set up in the 1970s to help filmmakers working in the city. It was presumed then that the more films shooting in the city, the better for the city. More jobs, more taxes, more everything. And that has proven true, seemingly everyone agrees.

Since then the Mayor’s Office has grown, and the number of productions shooting in NY has skyrocketed. There are now firmly entrenched procedures for dealing with almost every production situation, from closing down streets to cutting off stop signs to arranging for parking permits. Which doesn’t always mean that everything works smoothly, but usually ensures a maximum of communication between all the different departments that happen to be involved.

In Hoboken the Film Commission office is one man, who works with the Police Liaison, sort of, to encourage films to shoot in this one mile square city on the west bank of the Hudson River. Many films, especially low budget films, have been shot in Hoboken, which has a rich architectural feeling and is the home to a broad swath of the metropolitan area’s bohemian-types. The city is also, generally, receptive to the films and does all it can to make productions feel comfortable, for all the same reasons New York City does.

But, as Joe Sevey pointed out, they just aren’t as coordinated about it, at least not yet: "A film I was working on, we had permission to park the trucks up and down the block. Which was fine, and the cops left them alone. But then the street cleaners came one day and saw the trucks blocking the street and they started writing tickets, and even though we told them we had permits they said, ‘Hey, we don’t know that.’ It’s no big deal, we didn't have to pay, but that wouldn’t happen in NY."

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  Peter Kreutzer

 

Wednesday
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(c) 1997 Peter M. Kreutzer