Everyone knows this line from the classic Jay-Z song “Empire State of Mind”: “Concrete jungle where dreams are made of.” In New York City alone, there is an abundance of film and television shoots wherever you walk. Some are independent movies with small budgets and relatively unknown casts, while others could be for the top television show on CBS. If you know what to look for, you would be surprised to find how much filming actually goes on. Here are some tips for when you want to see an actual shoot happen in our beautiful city.
If you are looking for a specific shoot, the first the thing you should do is to simply go on Google and do some research. Although it seems almost trivial and unnecessary, chances are that someone posted on some random website that he or she saw film trailers set up outside of where the production is filming. There are so many websites that could tell you where the latest shoot is. One that I found to be fairly accurate is www.onlocationvacations.com. Updated on a consistent basis, the website has different links that will tell you where things are filming. There is even a Google calendar that will tell you exactly what is going on in whatever city you are in (for our purposes, look at the calendar for Brooklyn, Queens or Manhattan) and the location of where the trailers will be. Since it’s always updated, you can see what shows or movies are filming and whether someone famous, like Leonardo DiCaprio or Denzel Washington, is only a few blocks away from you.
Another good place to look for filming locations is social media. If there is something filming near you, like CBS’s Law and Order: SVU or The Good Wife, there is always a good chance that someone probably posted on various social media platforms that they saw something going on. This is a good indication of where something is, because if the post is fairly recent, there is a possibility that the production is still there and you can watch it from wherever the production crew tells you to stand so that you don’t end up in the shot (I personally would want to be in the shot, but that’s my personal thing).
Besides for the outdoor shoots, there are also television shows that have regular tapings that the public has a chance to sit in on. NBC gives people the opportunity to be a part of the audience of television shows such as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers. ABC does the same thing, with the public having the chance to watch morning/afternoon talk shows like The View, Live with Kelly and Michael and The Chew, just to name a few. I’ve had the opportunity to attend some these tapings and it’s always a delight to be on the set that you see on television every day. It’s so cool to me to see how small the set actually is and how everything is so perfectly coordinated. As someone who is obsessed with production, this fascinates me and I absolutely love it.
Honestly, the best thing about finding production shoots is stumbling upon signs for them without knowing about it beforehand. I recently found myself watching the filming of the upcoming CBS television series Braindead when I noticed a group of people dressed to the nines in tuxedos and ball gowns. Since we live in Midtown Manhattan, there’s always something going on and I’m always surprised when I find out that my favorite television show is filming right near our dorms. Usually you will see signs posted near the location where filming is happening and there’s always a chance to see your favorite actors filming a scene. I love to talk to the production crew and see from them what is going on. Each person in the crew always has an interesting story and they are always willing to talk about it if you give them the time. You can find out inside information from them about the production, which makes the whole situation even cooler.
The next time you find signs for a production, don’t just walk by and not give it the time of day. Stop, look around and see what’s going on. You are a lucky person and the majority of people don’t have the chance to see something film “live in living color.” Who knows? Maybe one of your favorite actors will let you take a picture with them and make the experience worthwhile.