Friday, October 31, 2008

Movie Making: Being Annoyed

I have read about the disruptions movie making causes regular people. But until this afternoon, I had not had the pleasure. Here's the tale. Driving south on Girard Blvd. in Albuquerque, toward Lomas, I was about to pass Jefferson Middle School. I was late for a 4 p.m. meeting. This is a standard route, though I hadn't come that way for several days. The road is blocked and traffic is detoured. The sign says, "Special Event." A police officer directs traffic onto the detour route. It's Halloween, so I figure Jefferson has gotten really carried away on a school Halloween event. Because the streets on the detour route are two lane, it takes a while to work my way through the detour.
Coming back, I'm heading north on Girard and I see the street is still blocked at Jefferson. There are lights at Jefferson, big ones. They turn out to be part of the movie production. I got around Jefferson and decide to stop and complain to the principal, still thinking it is a Halloween event. Having attended Jefferson and having living in the neighborhood for decades, I know the location of the little passages between homes that allow access to the school yard. I find one and head across the football field. The area behind the school, next to the field, is full of trailers. There are lights. I'm thinking: This is a really big event, all the more annoying and inappropriate.
Then I come to a police tape and a sign says, "To Set." Aha, I think, it's a movie, which explains the trailers. Still, annoyed, I leave. As I get in my car, I decide to ask the police officer guarding Girard the name of the movie. So I go through another access alley, walk up Girard and ask the officer. He says the movie being filmed is "Spy Next Door" with Jackie Chan. The big lights are on just west of the entrance to Jefferson's old gym. A crowd fills the space between the lights and the gym.
When I report the mess to my wife, she says she had gotten caught in the same disruption earlier in the day and had forgotten to mention it.
The movie economic impact studies that I have seen do not consider the lost time imposed by movie set disruption. For my meeting it was about 20 minutes each for three people or about one man hour. Nor do they consider the sales lost by retailers in downtown Albuquerque. Nor do they consider the gas wasted on the detour. The tax subsidy makes the movie business a dubious business for New Mexico. Considering these additional costs won't help.

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