Editorial: Greenport shouldn’t make things hard for Hollywood

Allison Williams films a scene for HBO’s “Girls” outside Claudio’s in Greenport in June 2013. (Credit: Claire Leaden)
Allison Williams films a scene for HBO’s “Girls” outside Claudio’s in Greenport in June 2013. (Credit: Claire Leaden)

The Greenport Village Board is set to take up proposed legislation that would require companies looking to film in the village to pony up a $500 fee in order to apply for a filming permit.

Under the proposal, companies wouldn’t get that money back — even if their permit is denied.

Here’s some advice for the Greenport board before moving forward: Remember where you came from.

It wasn’t long ago that a downtrodden village called Greenport was desperately trying to restore itself to health and, ultimately, become a tourism mecca by the sea. It’s never come closer to that goal than now, and the attention of film and television producers is testament to that turnaround. With the continued attention of production companies, things will only be getting better for Greenport. You can’t buy the type of publicity an HBO series like “Girls,” which filmed in Greenport in 2013, offers the village.

One reason given for the proposal is so that the mayor has more control over the use of public roadways and can give officials more advance warning. That seems somewhat reasonable, but the $500 fee appears to be nothing more than a shakedown. What, exactly, would the film crews be getting in return for that money? It’s not as if the village is providing police protection or paying other village workers overtime to accommodate the visitors. Such a move would simply leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. And producers talk.

There’s plenty of other places to film. So scrap the fee and scrap the nonsensical 30-day advance notice. (Again, advance notice for what?)

Greenport should instead be rolling out the red carpet — and relish the thought of continuing to see itself on screen. Fifteen years ago, village officials might have considered offering incentives for film companies to use their streets and harbor as a backdrop.

Greenport’s potential as a premier tourist destination is still not fully realized; let’s not take our eyes off the prize.