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Amityville proposes new code to regulate movie shoots

The Amityville Board of Trustees gave approval in

The Amityville Board of Trustees gave approval in November for the independent film "Christmas vs. The Walters" to shoot near the downtown gazebo, but the costs were too expensive for the production company. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Amityville officials will hold a public hearing next week on proposed new laws to regulate filming, just a month after a production company asked to shoot a movie in the village.

Amityville already has a permitting process for professional filming, charging $1,000 per day plus any additional costs incurred by the village. Mayor Dennis Siry said filming requests have been increasing.

"We don’t actually have anything that lays out the ground rules," Siry said. "We just want to make sure we’re covering everything."

The new Filming and Photography code is needed to "minimize the adverse impact" on businesses and residents while creating a framework for "allowing such activities in such a way as to showcase the village and encourage spinoff benefits," according to the law.

Among the stipulations: adequate insurance; 72-hour written notice of the filming schedule to all residents within 300 feet of the site; parking restrictions for cast, crew and equipment; and reimbursement of the cost of police and public works services. The new code also gives the village the right to suspend or revoke a film permit.

Siry said he doesn’t believe the new laws will drive filmmakers away.

"Actually, we’d like to promote people coming here to film because it’s a beautiful village," he said. "It would be nice to have a movie come out, and say it’s a big movie, and there’s Amityville Village."

In November, the village received what Siry said was its most high-profile filming request. Lexi Carlson, a location manager for "Christmas vs. The Walters," an independent film starring Dean Winters and Chris Elliott, asked about filming near the downtown gazebo on Dec. 20 from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.

An associate producer for the film who spoke during an hourlong discussion at a Nov. 23 board meeting said that in a desire to protect child actors, they wanted to shut down vehicle traffic on Park Avenue and part of Broadway. The request did not sit well with some trustees and local business owner Dina Rosenberg, who expressed concern about the impact on holiday shopping for struggling merchants.

"It seems like a hard ask for 2020," she said.

The board of trustees gave approval, but the village submitted an estimated bill of $8,000 to $10,000 to cover police and worker overtime, too much for the film’s limited budget, Siry said. It’s not clear whether the scene was shot elsewhere on Long Island. Carlson did not respond to requests for comment.

The movie did shoot on Dec. 14 in Heckscher Park in Huntington Town. Town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo said no roads had to be closed and the town charged about $650 for application and permit fees.

Siry said the village looked at Southampton’s filming code for guidance on its new laws, since the Hamptons is regularly featured on screen. He said he thinks Amityville could one day become just as popular.

"We have the history, we have the architecture here that lends to that kind of artistry," Siry said. "I think it would be a good thing for us."

The public hearing is Jan. 11 at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom.

ON SET FROM LONG ISLAND

Several notable movies have filmed in Nassau and Suffolk counties:

“Citizen Kane”: Oheka Castle in Huntington

“The Godfather”: Mitchel Field in Uniondale, Falaise mansion in Sands Point

“Annie Hall”: Amagansett, Southampton

“Love Story”: Old Westbury Gardens

“Goodfellas”: Atlantic Beach

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”: Montauk

Pollock”: Springs, East Hampton

“Something’s Gotta Give”: Southampton, Water Mill

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