2007-02-01 / News

Council ponders benefits of making movies in Jamestown

By Dotti Farrington

Town Councilman Julio DiGiando last week said that the prospect last year of moviemakers coming to town seemed like a "milk and honey" action, but the town now knows it was not such a good deal.

He made the comment after Bill Hamel of Pemberton Avenue described in a lengthy letter and then spoke at the Jan. 22 council meeting about the "real life quality" of movie crews in the neighborhood being "obnoxious." Hamel referred to actions by the Disney crew making the "Dan in Real Life," a feature film. Hamel said the Disney crew "had no consideration and made empty promises" about making improvements in response to neighbors' requests and complaints.

Hamel said he not only got disrespect from the Disney people, but also did not receive help from the town administration. He reported he was forced by local police to give up his legal street parking space at all hours to the Disney vehicles. Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said in an interview that the police incident was investigated, probable inappropriate action was found and directives were issued to prevent any repeat of such police action.

While the Disney workers were in town for about three months, there were few public reports of inconveniences. After the crews left in late December, several reports were made publicly and to the council about the ways residents "suffered" while the moviemakers operated.

Complaints came from residents of West Reach Drive, where some filming took place, as well as the Pemberton area, used as a base camp for the movie- makers, and the nearby school, which was also used as a movie set.

Some residents said they were not seeking to block moviemaking, but they wanted to encourage better treatment for those affected by the movie locations.

Hamel said his goal of reporting the problems was "to make sure it doesn't happen again. The impacts are too great." He said there are already rumors circulating that another movie undertaking was being considered to start in March, with the Portuguese American Citizens' Club negotiating for a $25,000 fee to provide a base camp for the filmmakers. Other rumors circulating were that the fee to PAC was nearly twice that amount.

The town received a $5,000 donation from Disney for hosting the movie crew, as well as fees for services and a flat rate for water used, according to the town administrator.

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