Article in The Albuquerque Tribune: Movie filming to close Central

Christian Dimery is happy to have the street outside his antique shop closed down today, even though it might mean fewer customers.

After all, the industry doing the closing also does great business with Morningside Antiques at 4001 Central Ave. N.E.

From 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. today, Central Avenue between Washington Street and Carlisle Boulevard will be closed – except to Rapid Ride bus service – for the production of “Three Wise Guys,” a Christmas comedy starring Tom Arnold, Katey Sagal and Judd Nelson.

Dimery, co-owner of Morningside Antiques, said inconvenience from the closure will be minimal – his shop closes at 5 p.m. – and is a small price to pay for keeping the film industry in New Mexico thriving.

“I’m so happy to have the movie industry really taking off here,” he said. “The business we do with the movies would make it worth losing two hours of parking outside my store.”

He said he often rents out antiques to film productions for a weekly rate equal to 10 percent to 20 percent of the item’s sale price. Such brushes with fame have a peripheral benefit: Dimery said an item’s appearance in a film powerfully piques a customers’ interest.

On other occasions, Dimery sells the antiques to the production crew or to Hollywood stars dropping in while on a break from their movie sets.

One of his most recent customers was Martin Sheen, who was in the city to work on “Bordertown,” a film about a reporter investigating the killings of women in Juarez.

Thousands of dollars in revenue have accumulated from movie productions over his store’s 18 years of business.

“For them (Three Wise Guys) to close me down for two hours, no sweat,” he said. “I’m so happy to have them in town.”

Joe Luehring, manager of the city’s construction services division within the department of municipal development, echoes that sentiment.

Luehring’s office handles applications to shut down a street from film production companies.

He acknowledges that not everybody accepts street closures cheerfully, but he thinks the inconvenience brings more benefits than costs.

“These companies will bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars a day in business,” he said. “We feel it’s a pretty good return on our investment to be able to even close a road like Central.

“We are trying to as best we can accommodate the movie industry.”

No request for a closure from a film production is routine, Luehring said. Each one has unique requirements that get heavily scrutinized by numerous city agencies, including the police department, the fire department, the environmental health department and the transit department.

“We definitely deny them (permits) and we definitely change them,” he said.

The request to close Central Avenue for “Three Wise Guys” underwent several changes, one major one to assure the city’s Rapid Ride buses could use the street during filming.

Alan Swain, the location manager for “Three Wise Guys,” has worked in the film business for 20 years.

He said regulatory scrutiny from city agencies is routine and valuable because it ensures the safety of the public and the film crews.

“We want to do everything correctly,” he said. “There’s enormous liability for not doing things correctly.”

“Three Wise Guys” has a budget of $4.6 million, Swain estimated, and said the production would spend locally about $100,000 on gasoline alone.

“This is all about economic impact,” he said. “This about bringing money into the state.”

“Three Wise Guys” is one of three productions under way in the state, according to Ann Lerner, director of the Albuquerque film office.

Together the three productions employ about 300 crew members, many of them locals, she said.

“It may be a little inconvenient to have a detour for a couple of hours on Central,” Lerner said, “but it’s worth it.”

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