Movie Filming on Monument Square More Than What Some Bargained For

When television filming crews showed up on Monument Square and Pleasant Street last week and this Monday, it seemed like a magical affair with fake snow and massive amounts of equipment and television personalities.

However, for some in that part of the Town, the luster wore off quickly – particularly when filming began at 4 a.m. on a school day and diesel engine fumes allegedly showered the neighborhood most of the day.

Johanna Hynes of Monument Square said the excitement of the filming quickly wore off for her, particularly when things became disruptive and she was unable to get answers from anyone on site.

“For a moment it seemed magical –  set designers, Hollywood stars, and a manufactured winter wonderland right outside our windows and doors,” she wrote (see full letter elsewhere in this edition). “Disney Plus had chosen Charlestown to produce its tween stream, ‘Godmothered’ and it felt flattering – our neighborhood for the third time in less than a decade would be seen on the big screen by viewers around the globe. However, day by day too many of us that live on High and Pleasant streets, as well as Monument Square, became disillusioned due to the tremendous disruption the production was wreaking on our lives.”

She said over the three days of filming, they had to deal with constant fumes from diesel generators, heavy equipment, cranes, bright lights well into the night, and noisy crewmembers starting up their day as early as 4 a.m.

She said she was also concerned about what chemicals were used when they mixed up the fake snow that was blown about the neighborhood for the filming. She said not being able to get a detailed answer was troubling.

“Charlestown, we need to ensure that we are better protected when the city/state allows the entertainment industry to set up their filming operations outside our front doors,” she wrote. “As residents of Boston, we have no opportunity to voice opposition when the industry decides our neighborhood street offers a desired shot. The first time we are made aware of these operations is when flyers are posted on our doors and no-parking signs are erected on our streets often only several days in advance of the film crew’s arrival.”

Movie filming disruptions have become a staple of neighborhood angst in Charlestown and all over the city of late. More and more film crews choose locations like Charlestown, the South End and Dorchester to stage their productions. When it happens, many times residents and businesses are left out of the planning for that – which has elicited complaints from every corner of Boston, particularly in the summer months.

The Mayor’s Office said they flyered the neighborhood about the Disney-Plus filming back in December, and also had a sidewalk meeting with the production company. They also flyered the neighborhood prior to filming as well.

They said production companies approach the City routinely to film, and are directed to the Film Committee. They have to request permission to film on a residential street, and they are required to work with the Office of Neighborhood Services (ONS) to get the word out.

If parking is impacted, they are to offer replacement parking spot-by-spot within a reasonable distance from the area. They are also expected to produce a phone number that residents can call at any time during filming to try to resolve issues that arise.

When meeting with City officials, Film crews bring in their desired schedule and both the City and the film crew work to identify a schedule that balances the requirements of the movie with the quality of life of the business owners and residents of the area. 

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