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When And Where You Could Find Yourself On A Film Set
Lights, Camera, Action!

Many New Yorkers have experienced running into a film set, but for those that haven't, our newest data study will show you where to go to increase your odds of coming across your favorite actor/actress. Using 2012-2016 film permit data collected by the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting from the NYC Open Data, we were able to determine seasonal trends and neighborhoods that hosted the most filming for TV shows and feature films (aka movies). As we dug through the data we found a steady increase of about 15% over the years in permits filed for television filming. Feature film permits varied wildly, with a large dip in permits during 2014. This lines up with the dip in yearly box office totals that was seen in 2014 from Box Office Mojo.

How Film Permits Work

A production crew is required to apply for a film permit when using production equipment more than a hand-held camera or camera on tripod, requesting parking priviledges, and/or asserting exclusive use of City property, prop weapons, prop vehicles, actors in police uniform or stunts on set.

Permits are reviewed and processed 3 to 4 days before a shoot with the exception of shoots located in Times Square where permits have to be submitted at least 7 business days prior. Production crews are required to submit one permit per shoot date, regardless of the number of filming locations.

Seasonality Patterns

*Average number of film permits filed for TV shows each month of the year using film permit data from 2012 to 2016

Depending on the show and network, TV shows generally premiere around fall. TV shows that are picked up for 13 episodes begin their filming in July and usually complete filming before winter. Similarly, 22 episode TV shows (rarely picked up, but do happen) also begin filming around July but continue fiming well into springtime with a seasonal break during winter for the holiday season.

A quick glance at our graph shows that:


*Average number of film permits filed for feature films for each month of the year using film permit data from 2012 to 2016.

While movies aren't restricted to the same network production timelines as TV shows, directors do face pressure to complete filming before dump months in January and February (occasionally August and September) where there are lower commerical and critical expectations for new movie releases. As evidenced by the data, it's clear that there are slumps of film permits submitted for movie shoots in the dump months mentioned.

Top Zip Codes

Factors that impact the location of a film shoot include: price, the screenplay, neighborhood atmostphere, and foot traffic in the area. A quick glance at the map reveals that zip codes located in Lower Manhattan and along the East River in Brooklyn were highly desired locations for TV show producers to film at.

Fun Fact: Shows such as Boardwalk Empire and Girls were both filmed in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The longest running crime drama on TV, Law & Order is predominantly filmed at Foley Square and 1 Police Plaza located in the Civic Center area in lower Manhattan. Other popular shows include Sex and the City and White Collar.


The most desired zip codes to film movies are mainly found within Manhattan in the Financial District, Hell's Kitchen and Penn Station.

Fun Fact: Popular movies that were filmed in New York include The Wolf of Wall Street, The Amazing Spider-Man serires, The Big Short, etc.

List of Shows & Where They've Filmed:
In Conclusion...

Growing incentives in the form of up to $420 million annual rebates to the film industry and free police assistance from the state of New York have resulted in the growth of the state's growing TV & movie production business. So whether you're looking to bump into your favorite celebrity OR trying to avoid film crews, be sure to look forward to an abundance of film sets around the fall in lower Manhattan (particularly in the Financial District) or neighborhoods along the water such as Greenpoint, Brooklyn.


Resources Used:
"Film Permits 2012-2016", NYC Open Data, https://data.cityofnewyork.us/City-Government/Film-Permits/tg4x-b46p.
"Daily Filming Locations", OLV, http://www.onlocationvacations.com/

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