Saturday, July 2, 2011

Paramount Pictures is in my Side Yard (And I Don't Think I Like It)

"Our eyes'll adjust, thank god for the Moon / maybe it's not the Moon at all, I hear that Spike Lee's shooting down the street / Bah humbug ... Bah Humbug" -- Light My Candle from the musical Rent (Mimi and Roger)

It's funny. Growing up in Southern California, home to Hollywood and all that jazz, some people assume that, well, Southern California = Hollywood, and therefore being from SoCal, I must be used to film making. That is not the case*.

No, instead, I'm subjected to the invasive hell of film making in my home in Cleveland Heights. For those who haven't heard, two movies are being shot in Cleveland this summer -- The Avengers (based on the comic book series, we "won" this production after the state of Michigan pulled tax incentives), and Fun Size (I'm still not entirely sure what this one is, but it's Halloween related, and something along the lines of sibling-looses-younger sibling).

I knew Fun Size was shooting in the Coventry Road Business District (aka Coventry Village) because my girlfriend works in one of the retail establishments and was visited by the filmmakers to give warning. What I didn't know was the Fun Size would be shooting at Boulevard Elementary School, my next door neighbor.

That "warning" came when I was woken at about 5:30 AM Thursday by the sound of a fleet of semis rolling into the parking lot next door, then sitting there idling for well over an hour. I am not a morning person. You do not get on my good side by waking me up before 7, much less before 6. (Here's my Twitter status update from when I had attained sufficient consciousness to successfully log on). After a day at the office -- wherein I was generally grumpy -- I came home and I thought it would be alright.

Then they fired up the generators, started trucks idling, and added a pinch of amazingly loud air conditioning running not long after I got home. Right next to my living room and master bedroom windows. (Literally if I opened my living room window and stuck a broom stick out, I could hit one of them). Ok. I can tolerate this for a few hours.

After my violin lesson, I met up with my GF and we hung out for a little while (but not as long as we otherwise might have because I was exhausted after having been woken up at five-freaking-thirty AM.) I go to drive her home and I find a mini-traffic jam, with a Cleveland Heights Police cruiser preventing traffic from entering my neighborhood. Fantastic. Before leaving, I roll down my window and ask the officer what the best way to get back is after I drop her off. "Just tell me when you get back". OK.

After dropping her off, I drive back. The officer gestures to try to get me to take the detour. I wait, roll down my window. "Excuse me, sir!" he comes over and I tell him where I live. He seems irritated, but tells me to wait while he clears out cars, then tells me to hurry. Not having ready access to the public streets around my own home is not doing anything to endear the filmmakers to me. But I make it home.

The generators, engines, and air conditioners are still going at full tilt. I'm tired, grumpy, and irritated. I'd probably be tired, grumpy, and irritated in any event, but the lack of notification from anyone that, hey, by the way we're going to be closing streets, making a ton of noise, and shining lights into your windows on these dates would have at least left me less p---ed off.

For those who don't know there's a common law right to quiet enjoyment: Essentially, as a property owner or tenant, I have the right to occupy my house free from the interference excessive noise, vibration, light, odor, etc. from surrounding properties... and Paramount's operations are most certainly interfering with my right to quiet enjoyment. Cleveland Heights also classifies disturbing noise as Disorderly Conduct**

After making it up to my 3rd floor master bedroom, I found that the noise was even more obnoxious than in my 2nd floor living room. I don't even get undressed. I go out side, corner the first person I see with a walkie talkie and ask for the location manager. He comes over, and we have a discussion. It is now 10:30 PM. I want to go to sleep.

I find out that shooting will be going on for another "5 or 6 hours" after which point they should shut the trailers down, until shooting resumes tomorrow night. Lovely. I have to say that the gentleman I've been speaking with is understanding, pleasant, apologetic, and generally nice -- which forestalled my initial instinct to just call CHPD (or walk over to one of the dozens of officers in the area) and ask that someone be cited for the noise violation. I had mentally prepared myself for an extensive argument, and that turned out not to be necessary.

I go up stairs and take a few Excedrin PM. It still takes me forever to fall asleep, and I don't sleep well. I wake up the next morning a bit groggy (Excedrin PM always does that to me) and make it into the office. After I get home from work, I meet with the contact to sign some paperwork so a check request can be generated. I'm not really thrilled by the offer, but I think all things considered it's a nice gesture from them (and less stress than trying to get an injunction, temporary restraining order or anything of of that sort).

Again last night they fired up the noise makers. I met my GF and a few of her friends for dinner, but made the decision to walk instead of drive to avoid that stress again. I make my way up to bed. The noise is at least as bad as last night. I take two more Excedrin PM. This morning I'm again a bit groggy, and wind up spending most of the day in bed enjoying the quiet. They aren't filming this weekend, they move to Coventry for Tuesday and Wednesday, and will be back at the school Friday. I just hope that they have a little more courtesy moving the trailers than doing it before 7AM


(Top picture is a view of the trailer village that popped up, from my one of my master bedroom windows; bottom picture is a shot of one of the trucks as seen from my side yard)
*- Although my now-deceased step-grandmother's home in Long Beach was used from time-to-time for location shooting (An episode of CBS's Criminal Minds was shot there) and just around the corner from the Ferris Bueller's Day Off house -- I was not involved in any of these.

**- Also included in the definition of Disorderly Conduct "The following acts, among others, are declared to be loud, disturbing and unreasonable noises in violation of this chapter, but such enumerations shall not be deemed to be exclusive, namely [...] (6) Heavy equipment. The use of heavy [...] equipment in close proximity to residential dwellings during the hours of 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m." (Chapter 509.03(b), Codified Ordinances of the City of Cleveland Heights)

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