How Not To Be A Jerk While Filming

Listen, I get it. Your movie is going to be the greatest story ever told. Sure, it’s the same old trope of star-crossed lovers, or missed opportunities, or whatever you happen to have fallen asleep watching on TCM the night before you got your “brilliant idea,” but your’s os told in a completely new way. It just HAS to get made, whether you can pull together the budget to shoot it properly or not.

I also understand that filming on the big lots is really expensive, so if you want to be able to pay the catering bill you have to film somewhere else. Your cousin (or grandparents, or distant relative’s friend) has a great house in a great location that they are willing to rent to you for dirt cheap, so you are all set to roll. You pull the permits with the city and then put out tiny notices on the neighbors fences that you are going to invade their space in three days.

Here’s where it becomes annoying. You put out your little cones announcing to everyone that they now have to park down the street. You harass the UPS driver- who frequents the cul-de-sac so often he knows the names of all the dogs- with, “We’re filming here, you can’t go through right now.” You decide to film outside in the morning and tell the neighboring kids that they can’t play in their own yard because we need to, “Keep the noise level down.” (And you have the audacity to come up to those who are already sick of your crap and ask to piggyback off their Wifi connection because the house you are filming in doesn’t have one.) You take up every available parking space in the street from before 7 to after 10 every day, making those of us who actually live here and are trying to get things done have to park around the corner.

These are the behaviors you want to avoid, unless you particularly desire the hatred of those surrounding your filming location. If you want to film in a noiseless environment without paying for a space on a lot, go film in the country. If you really want to film in a suburban neighborhood, pay the neighbors, too. It doesn’t even have to be half as much as the place you are renting, just something to say, “Pardon the inconvenience.” Heck, when my friend turned 30, she gave all the neighbors a bottle of wine and said, “We are having my birthday party on this date. Please don’t call the cops with a noise complaint.” Just something to acknowledge you are being a pain in the ass, but also that you know you are and you feel bad about it. Even having someone personally come up and talk to the neighbors beforehand would be better than walking up every time you had yet another request. I would be more likely to encourage the kids into the backyard if I was asked nicely instead of flat out told, “Um, we are filming over here. Keep the noise down.” Especially after you have pissed the whole neighborhood off for the past week.

In conclusion (or, in Internet lingo, tl;dr): To avoid being a humongous jerk while you are filming your “masterpiece”, be kind to the neighbors. Otherwise, they will end up laughing maniacally thinking, “Serves you right,” every time a giant airplane or helicopter flies overhead and inevitably messes up your take. What, you didn’t know you were filming in a flight zone?

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