Doesn't Like Film Crews Tying Up Streets

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 1, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Yes, I know that most people are pleased (often dazzled) when film crews set up camp in Austin. They think it's glamorous, and admittedly it's an environmentally clean (if ethically repugnant) industry.
    But what about the real cost? Every time I see one of those caravans of white trucks, frankly, I dread it.
    Why? They buy permits that allow them to disrupt all of our normal activities, as if the everyday functioning of the city does not matter. As if our streets could bear any more obstructions, the film crews can (and frequently do) shut down several lanes of a major thoroughfare during rush hour. Then they've got armies of flacks (mainly local production assistants anxious to impress someone from Hollywood) and off-duty cops running around telling you where you cannot go, even if you've been driving that particular route for years.
    Traffic accidents and other fluke occurrences are bad enough, but those things are announced on news updates and moved off as soon as possible - whereas these film crews come in and take over for days (sometimes weeks) at a time.
    In the past, movie people and the cops hired to guard their sets have prevented me from getting to the polls to vote, they have made me take an alternate route to the hospital when I was driving someone to the emergency room, and they've also caused me to be late to work on numerous occasions. Why the hell do their permits not stipulate that they set up and shoot scenes Downtown and on major traffic arteries sometime like Sunday mornings? Is it just too much to ask that they schedule their work so as to minimize the negative impact on the rest of us?
    I don't buy the mentality that these people are royalty and we're lucky to have them coming to Austin. In my experience, that Hollywood crowd has tended toward some of the most ill-mannered, imperious, and arrogant people I have ever met. I can't say much more for the glassy-eyed locals standing around gawking like tourists hoping to get a glimpse of somebody they saw on some gossip show, either.
Tom Horn
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