Three films at one time

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By The Staff

A hot-dog stand was set up in the middle of the Plaza on Monday morning, but the vendor was picky about his customers.

That’s because the stand was part of a scene in the movie “Not Forgotten.”

Over the last several days, Las Vegas has been the site for the filming of three movies — “Not Forgotten,” “Brothers” and “Beer For My Horses.”

As usual, some residents talk about the economic benefits to Las Vegas of the filming, while others note the hassles in traffic and detours.

Martha Martinez, chairwoman of the Las Vegas Film Commission, acknowledges that most of the film crews have out-of-town caterers. But she said businesses and residences where filming takes places are compensated.

“I’ve never seen figures on economic impact,” she said.

Rick Rubio of The Music Album, which is on the Plaza, said he was unhappy with how the film companies were handling their operations.

In particular, Rubio objected to how the many crew members were taking up valuable parking spots in the Plaza, giving little space for customers. Previous movies, he said, have brought in crews by bus so as to prevent that problem.

Rubio also said notices about filming were posted on businesses, while previous movie crews have met with merchants personally in a spirit of cooperation. “There’s very little personal touch now,” he said.

During filming, the public has been out of the loop when it comes to advance information about locations and what streets were being blocked off. Businesses around filming locations have had notices taped to their doors, but the media have not been notified at all.

KFUN radio owner Joseph Baca alluded to that fact on Monday’s “Over The Back Fence” program.

“No one seems to know who the members of the film commission are; it must be a secret society,” Baca said on the air.

In a later interview, Baca said, “The only information we ever got about any movie companies coming to town didn’t come from the film commission — we sought the information. When the Coen Brothers were filming the movie “No Country for Old Men” last year and turned the overpass into a Mexican crossing, we made contact with the public relations person. He came to the station two or three times and even sent us courtesy photographs of the filming.

Baca said when Hollywood comes to town, his station is flooded with calls from people looking for information. He said some people understand, but others get angry not knowing when roads are going to be blocked or what areas are affected.

“We can just tell callers that whoever’s responsible is not giving us that information,” Baca said.

Martinez, however, said it’s not standard practice in the industry to give public notice other than to residents and businesses directly affected.

“Most films don’t do public notices,” she said. “They don’t want to be disturbed or bombarded (with spectators).”

She added it’s the Police Department’s prerogative to notify the public when there are street blockages.

The production company is supposed to give notifications to surrounding businesses and residences, Martinez said. One company recently sent out four such notices, with revisions each time for scheduling changes, she said. Movie scheduling is based on actors’ needs mostly, but sometimes, the weather plays a role, she said.

As for Baca’s statements, Martinez said, “Maybe he should get the information first. He’s free to call me or call the city.”

Elmer Martinez, the city’s community development director, said it was by chance that all three movies were filming this weekend in Las Vegas. He said the three had originally been scheduled at different times. He credited a number of local officials for doing a good job at coordination.

“I do know there are inconveniences,” he said.

He added that the benefit has been economic development, noting that hotels he called were booked.

Rubio of The Music Album said the police seem to change when filming is happening.

“The cops change their attitudes when they’re working for Hollywood,” he said.

This go-round, with three movies rolling film at the same time, traffic was a concern for Las Vegas police in charge of traffic control. Even though filmmaking in the Meadow City is pass for some, the commotion of the process brings out the lookie-lous, and rubbernecking can lead to some sticky situations.

However, in one incident Sunday evening, a hapless driver who was trying to make his way around Plaza Park was harshly reprimanded by an officer. Cars were blocked from entering the park area from Moreno Street, and another patrol car prevented motorists from driving around the park. It was dark and no other vehicles were in sight as the car attempted a right turn from National leading to South Pacific — the usual route. A police officer yelled at the driver to stop and warned the person to follow instructions.

Deputy Police Chief Christian Montao said the film activity is causing many people to lose concentration on their driving, so officers must make sure drivers are focusing on safety. He said officers often don’t have the ability to issue citations while directing traffic, but they will give brief admonitions.

The movie companies are compensating the Police Department for officers who are directing traffic around filming, police said.

“Our attitude doesn’t change when Hollywood comes in. Our officers have to have a heightened sense of safety,” Montao said.

“Not Forgotten,” starring Paz Vega and Simon Baker, is expected to end filming in the Plaza today.

“Beer for My Horses,” starring Toby Keith, notified businesses that it would end its local filming Monday.

“Brothers,” starring Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal, left during the weekend.