CATSKILL – Filming of the suspense thriller “Shirley” in and around Wildwing Park has produced a few frayed nerves in the neighborhood.
Residents expressed concern Monday about a lack of information from public officials about a four-week detour in Jefferson Heights as shooting entered its second week.
The film, a fictitious tale based on the life of famed writer Shirley Jackson, author of “The Haunting of Hill House” and “The Lottery,” began production in Jefferson Heights last week.
The film stars Elisabeth Moss, whose credits include the TV series “Mad Men” and “The West Wing,” and most recently Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Her co-star is Michael Stuhlbarg of the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire” and the Academy Award-winning “The Shape of Water.”
Some residents say the filming has become an inconvenience on weekdays. No shooting has been scheduled for the weekends.
Jefferson Heights resident Maynard S. Peloke is concerned about the traffic in and around the residential community and what he calls the lack of government oversight about the detour, he said.
“When they stop traffic, it can go on for hours,” said Peloke, who lives down the street from where the movie is being made. “You have to use this detour through a residential neighborhood. It can be hundreds of cars in an hour. There are children that play in the street. It’s an accident waiting to happen.”
Filming is being done at the historic federal-style house at 210 Jefferson Heights. The home was built by Capt. Joseph Allen, who lived there with his wife and nine children in the 1800s. Filming is expected to last until Aug. 24. To minimize noise, traffic is limited and detoured through Jefferson Heights between South Jefferson Avenue and Wildwing Park. Route 23A is opened periodically when filming stops.
The production’s location manager delivered notices door-to-door to each resident who might be affected by the filming, said Alex Sherman, a production assistant to the film’s producer Allison Carter. The notices listed a phone number and contact information for the location manager.
As of Monday, the company had not received any complaints from residents about the filming, Sherman said.
Crew officials are working with Greene County sheriff’s deputies to open the barricades every time filming breaks, Sherman said.
The production crew is excited to be in Catskill, Sherman said. The crew has frequented local spots, including Hi-Lo Cafe at 365 Main St. in the village and Pomodoro’s Italian Eatery at 90 Catskill Commons, she said.
Traffic is heaviest on Thursday and Friday nights, Peloke said, and filming can sometimes start at 7:30 a.m. and run later than 7:30 p.m. Police lights at the detour on Jefferson Heights through his bedroom window at 9:30 p.m. Sherman said Monday she would look into the issue.
But Peloke said the fliers from the production company were sent after shooting began. One of Peloke’s biggest concerns is that there was no information about the filming from public officials, he said.
“There is no public or governmental accountability,” Peloke said. “Nobody from the county or the town of Catskill contacted homeowners in this immediate vicinity with the news of this movie and of what to expect or to answer questions. There should be total transparency when you tie a governmental entity to private investment, but they are leaving everyone in the dark,” he added.
Peloke said he wanted to know how much the county was receiving funds to pay for officers and how much overtime they were accumulating.
Calls to Catskill Town Supervisor Doreen Davis and Greene County Legislator Matt Luvera, who lives in the town of Catskill, were not immediately returned late Monday.
Production crews were at the Allen house on Monday. The sidewalks were open but the street was closed to vehicular traffic. Greene County sheriff’s deputies directed traffic and periodically opened the road.
Jefferson Heights Wine and Liquor at 209 Jefferson Heights has lost business because of the detours, owner Sam Thakur said.
“It is impacting business because they are stopping traffic right here in front of the business and diverting traffic another way,” Thakur said. “It’s summer. We usually get a lot of walk-ins. But if you cannot cross the road, how can we expect them to come in.”
Lifelong Jefferson Heights resident Arthur Seeley was attempting to hold a garage sale outside his home on Monday afternoon, but few people stopped by. He lives inside the area where traffic is being detoured.
“I know they are doing the movie and all that but it is an inconvenience to the people that live here,” Seeley said.