SOMERS, N.Y. – Somers residents may get to see actor Ben Kingsley around town working on a new film if the Town Board and the movie company can agree on the town's fees.
Producers of the Kingsley film “A Birder’s Guide to Everything” want to shoot some scenes in Somers later this month, and they have asked the Town Board to waive the $500 fee. On the recommendation of Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy, the board voted Thursday not to waive the fee but to apply it to costs incurred by the town in the making of the film.
“This is a small film, funded by grant money,” location manager Kara Janeczko said at Thursday’s meeting. “When you consider the film world, it’s a very small crew, about 50 people. But we’d be filling our trucks with gas and we have to find restaurants to feed these people each night, so it would bring a small influx of business to the town.”
“It’s a heartwarming film,” she added. “There isn’t anything you’d object to being associated with. We discussed going to Staten Island, but we were charmed by the town of Somers and we really hope to find a home for the film here.”
According to The New York Times, “Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston will co-star. The rough schedule would involve five days of shooting, usually between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Locations would include Somers High School, the banks of the Muscoot River or another nearby river, and Route 100 between Routes 35 and 118.
“On Route 100 we’d work one day on the side of the road, so we wouldn’t impede traffic. On the second day, the crew is on a large, moving truck. Ordinarily we have a police officer in the lead vehicle,” Janeczko said.
Councilman Tom Garrity remarked, “Obviously the fees are there for a reason. If we waive them and it ends up costing us money, it means our taxpayers are subsidizing your film.”
“I do appreciate what you’re doing,” he continued. "But several days with 50 people means our police are going to be doing far more than just one day. When people find out Ben Kingsley is here, people will be coming from all over.”
Police Chief Mike Driscoll said, “The first thing is, I don’t have the resources to add duty cops. Routes 118 and 35 are very, very busy. For safety reasons, you’d definitely need one cop there.”
Councilman Rick Morrissey said, “I’m torn between waiving the $500 and seeing 50 people here for five days spending money on food and pumping up with gas.”
Garrity responded, “Keep in mind, they’re not necessarily going to eat in Somers. They could go down 100 or go into Katonah.”
Murphy initially said: “The fee is only $500. That’s less than $100 a day. It’s pretty reasonable. You’re offering us a bit of economic incentive and we’d like to encourage it. Maybe there’s a way to compromise.”
She continued: “I would move that we don’t waive the fee, but that the fee be applied toward any legitimate town expenses and anything above that would be billed at the appropriate rate.” The motion was passed.
If agreement is reached with the filmmakers, shooting would begin about July 23 and continue until Aug. 2 or 3.