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North Hempstead plan to ease filming rules

North Hempstead Town officials hope it'll be lights, camera and action for a new initiative to attract more Hollywood filming to town.

The town board plans to hold a public hearing Sept. 12 on a proposal to lift some of the restrictions on filming in the town's unincorporated areas.

Those restrictions include a ban on filming for more than three consecutive days and a requirement that producers get a separate permit for each day of filming.

"People would throw their hands up and say, 'You know what? It's too difficult to get a permit. I don't want to do it,' " said Town Clerk Leslie Gross, whose office handles film permits.

In addition to the potential change in restrictions, a new initiative in Gross' office headed up by a staff member, Maxine Moss, has begun to attract more filming to the town, Gross said.

"We've been calling her 'Maxine Scorsese,' " Gross said. "She really got into this."

Moss, for her part, said she's reaching out to production companies to let them know about North Hempstead. "It's word-of-mouth," Moss said. "It's a very small industry."

Recently, Italian Vogue did a shoot, as did the television show "Gossip Girl." The Food Network and Lifetime Network are planning shoots -- although their applications had to go before the town board for permission because each shoot was to exceed three days. Gross said the town has issued nine film permits since June, compared with about 13 for all of 2011.

"It's been a phenomenal success," said Moss, who also has helped to smooth the way for filmmakers by reaching out to other town departments, such as parks and public safety, that need to know about the shoots.

Gross said other restrictions that are intended to preserve residents' quality of life will remain in place.

"We don't want at 2 o'clock in the morning to have lights shining in somebody's window if they are shooting in a home," she said. "We still have some time restrictions."

The town also is looking into creating a website to highlight areas of the town -- such as the town dock, parks or cemeteries -- that might interest filmmakers.

"I think it's a matter of civic pride when you can say this movie that's just coming out was filmed here," Gross said. "It creates a kind of excitement."

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