Lights, cameras, action

Sometimes I really wish I could do that thing where you put a couple of fingers in your mouth and blow, to emit an ear-piercing high-pitched whistle that brings pedestrians to a standstill and forces all cabs within a three mile radius to screech to a halt at the kerbside for you. Sadly, the only whistle I can muster is a jaunty version of Kanye West’s “Stronger”, the like of which provokes sneers from taxi drivers, and has that nice Mr West seeking emergency legal advice.

In the movies, of course, the “power whistle” is not a problem for any leading man. And given that I’m still at that stage of boyish wonder where all of New York is a stage, it somehow seems wrong that I can’t quite manage to hail a cab in the same style as, say, Kiefer Sutherland or Andy Garcia.

As a result, my usual “eager hand in the air” had to suffice as I made way uptown in a taxi from outside the office this evening. The five minute journey to Soon To Be Wife’s place of work did nothing to dispel the notion that New York is one giant movie set. In only thirty three blocks, we drove through two major productions, including one that took up an entire city block between 9th and 10th Avenues. I’ve no idea what they were filming, although I’ll be watching out for glistening white noodle bars in films from now on, given that they seemed to be building one from scratch.

With Sex & The City: The Movie, the second Incredible Hulk film and the new Joel & Ethan Coen flick “Burn After Reading” (starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand and John Malkovich) among dozens of movies shooting in the city, New York can lay claim to being more Hollywood than Hollywood itself.

As for TV shows, you can’t move without coming across sets for small screen productions such as “30 Rock” or “Talk To Me”. And don’t get me started on “Law & Order”. With spin offs including “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Law & Order: Trial By Jury” emerging every day, it’s a source of constant wonder to me that “Law & Order: Exiled In Brooklyn” isn’t filming in our kitchen even as I write.

The basic fact is that for all Ken Livingstone and Film London talk about supporting movie making in London, it’s all just chat compared to New York’s actions. Much of that is to do with tax breaks and funding, as well as the natural dominance of the American movie-making industry. But at the same time, you’ve got to admit that Londoners haven’t got the experience or patience to put up with the traffic and disruption necessary for everyday filming on a massive scale. It’s that kind of attitude that means London-based movies have to film at 4am if they want to close off a road. “28 Days Later” was probably an extras-heavy rom-com before the attitude of the London filming authorities required a complete rewrite.

Until London gets its act together, I’ll content myself with wandering around the streets looking for opportunities to get myself into the latest blockbuster. Talking of which, did I ever tell you about the time I appeared in Zoolander?

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