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Filming in New York City

Filming in New York City — Terry Gilliam, Sidney Lumet, and others find shooting a movie in Manhattan can be pretty tricky

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When Woody Allen (or any other director) wants to make a movie in New York City, first he has to check with the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, the only place in town to get a permit for shooting. Formed in 1965 by then mayor and movie junkie John Lindsay, the MOFTB was the first one- stop permit office in the country. Since then, similar departments have sprung up in other major cities, including L.A. and Chicago.

According to MOFTB director Jaynne Keyes, the office has negotiated some tricky requests from filmmakers. Terry Gilliam asked the city to stop traffic so that a 2,000-pound Percheron horse could gallop through the streets for The Fisher King. For Home Alone 2 last Christmas, the MOFTB kept the Rockefeller Center tree up a few extra days. And recently, plans for the local Pulaski Day Parade were changed so as not to interrupt the car-chase scenes in Sidney Lumet’s upcoming Close to Eden.

Keyes’ office takes pride in its can-do spirit. ”I sort of explain us as the MASH unit of city government,” she says. Still, a few proprieties have to be observed. ”I mean, you can’t have people running nude down the streets of New York,” Keyes says. ”That’s against the law.”