Re: On the Media and Community Gardens
A second vote of support for the notion that as community gardens we
have to be aware of and protect ourselves against abuse in the name
of the media.
Every type of incident Adam mentioned is very familiar with our
garden (6th Street & Avenue B Garden, NYC) and we have enacted very
strict rules regarding any filming in the garden. Once you enact
these rules most film producers, TV people, fashion photographers and
whatnot are usually very willing to abide by them. Those who object
would probably be trouble makers anyway.
Here are some of our rules:
1) Every non-news production must make a monetary contribution to the
garden. A major movie or TV show must pay going rates for location
rentals. Smaller productions we make a case by case assessment. The
money must be paid upfront!
2) Every production has to have location insurance! This is really
3) Producers must sign an agreement promising to replace anything
damaged by the production. Aside from the guarantee you get, this
agreement usually makes the production people really careful and very
little damage happens.
4) We include money to pay garden members to supervise the production
while it's in the garden. Films are a commercial production and we
don't expect garden members to volunteer their time for it. The
garden sets the rate and gets the money up front. These garden
supervisors should be prepared to lay down the law and, if needed,
call the police if a film crew abuses the garden. The garden member
can donate their salary to the garden if they choose and frequently
We don't make these requests if it's a news or documentary production
that will provide positive publicity for the garden and community
gardening in general. They are, however, expected to behave
themselves and have location insurance.
Before we had the rules all sorts of trouble happened. In addition to
the things Adam mentioned which I assume happened in his garden; a
music video crew had the rock band they were filming smash our garden
furniture around. We didn't know this happened until I saw the video
on MTV a year later. An independent production staged a nude scene in
the middle of the day. Nude people are OK but not in a public garden.
After we set the rules a few years ago, things are much better. We
had major studio film production last October with lights, cables,
big cameras and sound equipment all night long and it was a positive
experience. The garden made some needed money, a couple of garden
members made some extra money and nearly zero damage occurred. The
year before a TV sitcom came to the garden for some location footage
outside the garden and actually hired some garden members as extras.
We've had a number of independent and student films and all have been
fine. This year one small crew stayed longer then they should have
and they got away without paying extra but that was an exception.
We don't expect a copy of the finished production as we know that
even major actors in films have a hard time getting a copy.
Yes, media people frequently act under the delusion that they are
gifts from heaven, but when you set reasonable rules a beneficial
experience can be had by all.
6th Street & Avenue B Garden,
New York City
On Dec 3, 2005, at 10:47 PM, Adam36055@aol.com wrote:
Like many Americans, you mention the world, "film, TV, documentary,
everyone decides that it's wonderful to let the folks in so we can
all get our
Andy Warhol, " ten minutes of fame." If you get story control, and
the story, and get the right to do so, up front, it works, but if
making the money, and you don't get a film credit, copy of the
documentary to show
your own funders and no up-front agreement to include a credit or
acknowledgment of the volunteer organizations they're filming, then
you get screwed.
I don't like to see community gardeners get screwed, or have their
All of this has really happened in gardens I've been involved with
It ain't nice when the "nice," film crew wants to...
1) Shoot a TV commercial using your garden as the back drop for a
fertilizer that you wouldn't use, and didn't tell you about it
"thought it was OK, it's a garden isn't it?"
2) Have decided to use your garden for an alfresco sex flick and
tell you at the last moment. And want you to open up your garden at
3) Feel they have the right to trash your garden with heavy cables
bearing tripods. "It will grow back, won't it?"
4) Shoot their film and never send you a complimentary video copy
5) Send in an arrogant NYC Film School crew that lights up dope
your garden rules) because they "need to get loose," and feel they
can pee on
your roses because "it won't hurt anything."
6) Schedule a shoot during the work week, for which community
off of work to show up for, and the production company says, about
later, if ever, that "the client decided to shoot somewhere else -
being there, but we couldn't help it."
And in all honesty, if I ever see a Japanese film crew wanting to
shoot in a
NYC community garden who promises to send a copy of the finished
video to the
filmed garden and doesn't leave jack except a few pieces of origami, a
business card and trampled on flowers - it will be too soon.
As they say, you can't make this manure up.
Now gardens that I've been involved with have had lots of garden
documentaries, PBS filming, and I and other gardeners given
countless press interviews
and tours to greening folks - and it can be very positive.
" PBS Wild Kingdom" was really classy, as was "A Lot in Common,".
from the Garden," was a really good book, with a contract from
Rodale, and a
number of scholarly and non-scholarly documentarians have been both
respectful of gardeners and gardeners's time.
But there are lots of hustlers out there who waste volunteer community
gardeners's time. And you disappoint your volunteers a few times,
and you end up
with fewer volunteers.
So I think good think to do, I think, is to ask professional
who ain't community gardeners up front to join the American Community
Gardening Association for the lousy $25 it will cost them, and at
the very least let
us know who the heck they are.
I mean, it is the right thing to do. Media is a business, and like any
business they should be asked to ante up and identify themselves
for any other
segment of our society that they respected, at all.
And between you and me, $25 - the price of a few pizzas and beers on a
volunteer day isn't too much to ask of any business person or any
garden that wants
to use the priceless resources of the American Community Gardening
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