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Q+A with freelance film scout Nick Carr

15 Mar

Recently we’ve been loving ScoutingNY, a blog by Nick Carr, 27, that takes a unique, up-close look at the intricacies, designs, buildings and other locations in NYC that go ignored as we’re on our way to work or popping out for a coffee. Carr joins us today for a Q&A, and talks about some of the craziest places you’ve never seen in New York City.

Nick Carr

You’re a location scout for movies. How does one land a gig like that?
Weird series of events. I started my career by working as an assistant to an indie producer, the only film job I could find out of college. I was making $100/week and barely getting by. The movie I was working on ran out of money (obviously not due to my salary), and I was unemployed…but not for long! Someone from the indie flick went on to War of the Worlds, and when he heard of a job opening in the locations department, gave me a call. I had to start at the bottom, but it only took a few jobs to get into scouting.

What must-see, lesser-known locations would you recommend to a newcomer to the city?
Anything I write about on my Web site! There’s a beach house literally on the roof of an apartment building at First Street and First Avenue. There’s a river below Fifth Ave that still flows to this day, and you can see it flowing in a fountain in the lobby of 2 Fifth Avenue. You can also check out a full location-by-location write-up on movies such as Ghostbusters and Taxi Driver on my site.

How long does it usually take to scout out the filming locations, and what all goes into that?
Anywhere from a day to weeks, all depending on the location. Much of what we do is based on experience, buildings or neighborhoods we know are film-friendly. When we run out of initial ideas, we simply go door to door knocking. We keep submitting options to the director until he chooses one, and I’ve seen that number get as high as 200-300 for a single location.

What do you enjoy most/least about your job?
I enjoy having a different workplace each week during shooting, and the freedom to roam the city pretty much at will. The long hours and freezing winter weather can be tiring, however.

Do you mostly work on movies, or commercials and TV shows as well?

Nearly always movies. It’s consistent work over a several month period for decent pay. TV is completely insane — for an episode of Law & Order, for example, you have a week or two to scout for an episode being filmed the third week. The pluses are that it’s a very reliable gig lasting up to nine months, and you even get benefits. Commercials pay a lot for the short period you’re employed, but obviously don’t last very long. So you’re always on the lookout for another gig.

Have you come upon a New York location in a film that continues to stump you?

Never been stumped, but I have been disappointed. It’s easy to get an idea of a location in your head you believe HAS to exist somewhere in the city, only to be disappointed when you find out the reality doesn’t match your imagination. Many of the most expensive penthouse apartments I’ve ever been have turned out to be…well, a bit smaller than I expected. Alleys in New York are often less dank and disgusting than movies would have you believe.

What locations used in a film have you found that you are especially proud of?

I did some of the rooftops on Spider-man 3, but none that you would say “Oh yeah! I remember that one out of the 50 in the movie!”

With a little help from Etsy

1 Mar

Lately we’ve been reading many stories about people turning to their crafty sides to add spending money to their income during the recession.

Buying gifts on has been great fun for me, especially when they’re made by a local crafter — which is how I found the talented Caroline Wolfe, who has graciously agreed to tell us about her wares — and, as a bonus, spill about her favorite spots over the decade she’s lived in Brooklyn!

Caroline Wolfe Papocchia

What advice would you give someone looking to earn extra income by launching a creative venture on Etsy?
Realize that starting and maintaining an Etsy shop requires work and commitment. Pricing will likely be your greatest challenge. Be honest with yourself about the cost of your materials and shipping, and — most importantly — the value of your time and talent. Remember, you are saving so much by selling it yourself and selling it online.

How have you promoted yourself?
Most of my promotion has been word-of-mouth; I was also featured in an Etsy e-mail blast that brought a lot of attention to my Cities plates. I have had some press on design blogs, and in a couple of magazines, for which I am very grateful. Next year I plan to participate in some craft fairs.

Do you have a day job? What are your goals for your Etsy side business?
I am an event planner and designer; I also write about the industry for a handful online publications, and I work part-time at a school that teaches a course on wedding and event planning. I would like to expand the offerings at my Etsy shop. I am planing to include other crafts, and I am also planning big changes on the types of glassware and styles on offer.

Look, it's Iowa! Caroline's "Cities" plates were a hit for holiday.

As you mentioned, your Cities plates have been a big hit. If you were to make six of your own plates for your favorite cities, what would those be?
Great question! New York (of course); Chicago, IL; Portland, OR; London; Wellfleet, MA; and Washington, DC.

You’ve lived in Brooklyn since 2000. What neighborhood are you in, how has it changed in the past decade and what are you favorite spots?
Since 2008, [my husband and I] have lived in Greenwood Heights. Favorite places? Definitely the cemetery. It is historic and so beautiful. Other favorite spots include Sidecar, Buttermilk Bar, Korzo restaurant, Monk Vintage Shop, Eagle Provisions, Adam’s Wines (amazing place), Tacos Xochimilco and Rossmans.

In Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens: Frankie’s Spuntino, D’Amico coffee roasters, Winn Discount for basics (although it has gotten pricier), Stinky Cheeses (totally irresistible), Alma Restaurant, Pizzazz (for baby and kid gifts), Downtown Bar & Grill (for burgers), Seoul Custom Tailor, and BookCourt.

What can you recall about moving to NYC back then?
I have never felt so liberated as I did as a 21-year-old in this city, and as I continue to feel living here. There is so much energy and so much to do. The trick is to get your bearings and establish a basic routine (this is where I get my groceries, this is where I do my laundry, this is my favorite restaurant or bar, this is how I get to and from work), a consistent path that you can jump off and back on whenever you need or want to.

When I first arrived I wanted to experience everything I could. I went out a lot and managed to accrue a bit of debt. Living outside of my means was my biggest error — and luckily behind me.

Visit Caroline on Etsy hereMention NewNewYorkers when you order four or more plates and get a 10% dicsount!

James Cameron Talks ‘Avatar’ at PACE University

18 Feb

Last night I attended James Cameron‘s taping of “Inside the Actors Studio” at Pace University downtown, and it was one of those nights that made me appreciate just how unique a typical Wednesday night can become when you live in New York City.

Just $15 to hear the great James Cameron? Yes, please.

That we even snagged seats to this was a small miracle, given the fact that “Avatar” is still the No. 1 movie and has become the highest-grossing film of all time, followed by Cameron’s “Titanic.” I had about two minutes to decide to purchase the tickets (discounted through Goldstar*), as by then the floor seats had already sold out. Arriving at the downtown lecture hall, I saw a massive standby line.

I’ve watched “Actors Studio” for years, and seeing James Lipton be all James Lipton-y in person was a real treat. Cameron was interesting, articulate and gave several entertaining anecdotes about the production of some of his most successful ventures, complete with the requisite clips and applause.

James and James during the portion of the interview that featured Stephen Lang (front row with hand extended).

It was a nice surprise to see Stephen Lang (“He likes to be called Slang,” Cameron deadpanned) in the front row, who played Colonel Miles Quaritch in “Avatar.” Two years on, he was considerably less bulked-up, but the master’s students in the Pace acting school applauded when he sat down, instantly recognizing him.

Three hours later, the 4/5/6 took us home as we remarked upon how great it is to be able to see something like this on any given evening here in our great city.

Though taping are irregular and only occasionally are tickets made available to the public, keep checking back here for schedule and ticket info, and follow them on Twitter here.

I highly encourage you to check out Goldstar, by the way, and I’ll be posting more about them soon — they’re a WONDERFUL source for discount tickets to some very unique experiences!