Shooting movies and television in New Castle and North Castle might be sparse, but the right to film in these suburban towns is strict.
Before residents hear “lights, camera, action!” in North Castle and New Castle, even big shot producers, directors and actors need to abide by town codes and receive the town’s blessing. Just like the average local Joe, people in show business need to respect local ordinances.
While there isn’t necessarily a large influx of camera crews coming to either New Castle or North Castle, the Westchester County Tourism and Film Office said there is a certain appeal to both towns.
What makes these towns a draw, Caputo said, is they can pass for almost anywhere. Suburban street, small-town centers and lush parks are always in demand.
“And both North Castle and New Castle have that and more,” Caputo said.
And while some residents might bemoan the occasional road closure or traffic delay due to filming, Caputo said most people in the vicinity of filming find it to be an exciting prospect that scenes from the big screen are being shot in their town.
“It makes the news and the social media rounds – so it is exciting. Also we are very fortunate that most producers and location managers are very sensitive to neighbors’ concerns,” Caputo said. “The last thing they want to do is to burn bridges and make it more difficult to film in the future, so they’re transparent about what they’re doing and when, and are willing to make adjustments and accommodations for neighbors – both residents and businesses – whenever possible.”
More Films Being Shot in the 914
Overall, there has been an uptick in film requests throughout the county, Caputo said. That trend is due to more productions being based in and around New York City and the reputation Westchester has earned as a convenient and “film friendly” location.
Film friendly doesn’t mean free rein, with municipalities requiring film companies completing an application that needs approval from town boards.
Filming in North Castle
North Castle town clerk Alison Simon, whose office handles filming requests, said in her four-year tenure, there are only 3-5 filming requests consistently each year. It can be a mixture from movies and television shows to shooting or even still photographing of commercials.
Most recently, the CBS television show FBI, created by Dick Wolf and Craig Turk that stars Missy Peregrym, Zeeko Zaki and Jeremy Sisto, filmed in town.
Last year the Showtime series Escape At Dannemora, which is based on the upstate New York prison break where a married female prison guard helped two male inmates who she was having sexual relations with escape from Clinton Correctional Facility. That limited series starred Oscar winners Benicio del Toro and Patricia Arquette and Golden Globe nominee Paul Dano with Emmy winner Ben Stiller directing. The filming in town took place near the reservoir.
“By the time the application gets to the town board, it’s usually pretty well vetted,” Simon said.
Still, there are times residents aren’t happy with the filming if it’s occurring in their neighborhood. There is one Bedford residence in a quiet area that is a hot bed for film projects, which has a few bothered neighbors, Simon said.
Mostly though, strict parameters ensure residents won’t face much acrimony as a result of some filming.
“We work with the applicants and the neighbors to make sure that they’re all aware of what’s happening and make sure the applicant doesn’t start filming too early or stay too late so they will disturb neighbors as little as possible,” Simon said.
Filming in New Castle
In New Castle, the filming application is submitted to the Office of Town Administrator, which then sends it to the police department for a thorough review. Chief James Carroll said the department focuses on how the filming could affect traffic safety and flow and whether or not officers need to be hired and roads need to be shut down during filming.
During Carroll’s tenure with the department, he can’t recall a time where filming would be too intrusive that it would’ve been denied by the town board. Carroll said a few years ago there was a massive filming project that even rented out the Whippoorwill Country Club for staff and crew to stay between shoots. Most filming is done on private properties with equipment and trucks stationed on side roads. Officers are used to direct traffic, Carroll said.
The biggest celebrity that Carroll can recall coming to town is Jessica Chastain when she was shooting A Most Violent Year, which is a crime drama film from 2014.
Carroll estimates there are only a couple times a year filming is done in New Castle and typically, residents are more curious than annoyed when filming is done nearby. The town requires applicants to send a note letting neighbors in a 250-foot radius of the shoot know five days prior when the filming will take place so there are no surprises.
And even if a resident or two might be displeased, as Carroll said filming in town is “not on a regular basis.”
So the next time you spot a film crew or their van in the castles, know that they have been vetted thoroughly by your town board and if you are lucky, you may even spot a star or two.