The Town of North Hempstead has seen a sharp rise in movie, television and commercial filming -- and revenue -- two years after officials dropped restrictive production rules.
North Hempstead has collected $40,326 in filming fees so far this year, nearing its $42,164 total for all of 2013, officials said.
Those figures are up from the $7,550 generated in 2011 and $18,868 in 2012, the year the town board eased several regulations, officials said. The old rules required producers to get permits for each day of filming, a measure former Supervisor Jon Kaiman had called "draconian."
North Hempstead has issued 34 film permits so far this year, officials said. That compares with 38 for all of 2013, 22 in 2012 and five in 2011.
Producers are particularly interested in filming at the town's prime North Shore locations that have waterfront views, mansions and manicured lawns.
"Royal Pains," broadcast on the USA Network, recently re-imagined Gerry Pond Park in Roslyn as a village green in the Hamptons. The show paid $12,600 in fees for several days of filming -- the largest fee paid, according to permit records.
"The green area is very pretty and cinematic," said Mike Fucci, a location manager for "Royal Pains."
A March shoot for the CBS series "Person of Interest" resulted in nearly $3,600 for the town, permit records show.
The increase in permits and the accompanying fees mirrors a trend in Nassau County, where film office director Debra Markowitz said production days were up to 791 in 2013 from 728 in 2012.
"North Hempstead has gorgeous parks, wonderful mansions, beautiful streets, some wonderful restaurants, and commerce areas that are very lovely," Markowitz said. "It's just a great area to film, very bucolic."
Maxine Moss, North Hempstead's film permit coordinator, said the town has developed a long list of producers and location scouts who often shift from project to project but keep the town on speed dial.
"They want it to be the Hamptons -- no problem, we have beautiful docks, beautiful parks," Moss said. "If you want a nice expensive house, we have those."
North Hempstead is close enough to Manhattan so that producers can keep costs down, said Debbie Regan, who owns a location agency.
By staying within 30 miles of Manhattan's Columbus Circle -- an area considered "local" -- productions can often avoid paying overtime costs for set workers.
Regan's job includes finding homeowners willing to rent their properties for film shoots.
"I think a lot of people like the possible celebrity thing, the cocktail party conversations," she said.
"The Affair," Showtime
"Person of Interest," CBS
"Royal Pains," USA
"The First 48," A&E
"The Leftovers," HBO
Source: Town film permit records