Filming began Wednesday, June 19 at 96 Perry Ave. on the independent feature film “God’s Pocket” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Filming began Wednesday, June 19 at 96 Perry Ave. on the independent feature film “God’s Pocket” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman.

There was a question about whether or not the filming of some indoor scenes for the upcoming independent feature film "God's Pocket" starring Philip Seymour Hoffman would actually take place over six days in Port Chester. Location Manager Michele Baker appeared before the Port Chester Board of Trustees Monday night to plead the case of Pocket Picture Productions, LLC.

Village Manager Chris Steers said there was a concern about parking the 10-12 vehicles needed for the production-some of them long-on Perry Avenue where the actual filming would take place. Noise and disruption to the congested residential neighborhood near Port Chester High School were the village's worries.

Baker said she had spoken to Port Chester School District Clerk Yvette Segal who told her that after graduation on June 21 there would be no problem using Port Chester High School property to park vehicles. However, the production companies (Park Pictures, Cooper's Town Productions and Shoestring Pictures) were set to start filming on Wednesday, June 19.

After thorough questioning, the board agreed that if the police chief and village manager could work out an arrangement that was agreeable to the neighbors, they could go ahead.

The company is paying the Village of Port Chester $630 for a filming permit plus $125 for each day filming will occur.

Trustee Sam Terenzi wanted to know how much the owner was getting paid for using the house for filming and the vacant lot next door for staging.

"He is getting paid a fee," said Baker flatly.

Filming will occur inside the vacant 3-bedroom house at 96 Perry Ave. where lifelong Port Chester resident Vera Davis lived until her death at age 94 on July 3, 2012. Currently owned by her nephews, it is on the market for $279,000 along with the 100'x105' lot next door which is listed separately for $175,000.

"It's a family's home," said Executive Producer Mark Cayman. "There is a lot of dialogue between the husband, wife and two sisters. There's nothing to take place on the street."

The outdoor scenes are being filmed in Yonkers.

According to Village Clerk Janusz Richards, approval was given for the filming.

"The traffic sergeant and

chief found other locations for them to park and since that was acceptable, they were able to go ahead," he said Tuesday night. "They talked to all the neighbors and they were receptive."

Filming began Wednesday and will continue on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, June 24-26 as well as July 17 and July 20 during the hours from 7 a. m. to 10 p. m. There is also a plan to use the municipal parking lot on Highland Street adjacent to Tandoori Taste of India for a few hours.

"God's Pocket," the film directorial debut of John Slattery ("Mad Men") and co-starring Richard Jenkins (HBO's "Six Feet Under"), Christina Hendricks ("Mad Men," "Firefly") and John

Turturro ("Do the Right Thing," "Miller's Crossing," "Transformers" series), is expected to be released sometime in 2014, although no date has yet been announced.

Slattery and Alex Metcalf adapted the Peter Dexter novel by the same name for the screen. It is set in the gritty, blue-collar neighborhood of God's Pocket in Philadelphia. According to imbd.com, the movie is about "Mikey's crazy stepson Leon" being "killed in a construction 'accident' and Mickey quickly tries to bury the bad news with the body. But when a local columnist comes sniffing around for the truth, things go from bad to worse. Mickey finds himself stuck in a life and death struggle between a body he can't bury, a wife he can't please and a debt he can't pay."

Neighbors excited

Early Wednesday evening two trucks-one long-and two vans plus additional equipment filled the street on both sides around 96 Perry Ave.

Neighbors who were milling around outside on the gorgeous summer day were excited about the idea of scenes from the movie being filmed on their street.

Janioson Tavares and Julia Vasquez, who both live at 77 Perry Ave., were just learning about the project.

"It's very emotional to have filming on Perry Avenue," said Vasquez in Spanish.

They didn't think there would be any problem with the activity that was going on but were surprised with how many people were involved.

Assistant Location Manager Matthew Fleischman acknowledged that a tall truck had knocked down a cable television wire which was hanging in the street. He said the cable company had been called to come repair it and everything was under control.

Another handful of large vehicles-including the food truck- were parked at the end of Perry Avenue on Neuton Avenue adjacent to the Port Chester High School field.

"This is the most excitement in my 50+ years, a positive shot in the arm," said next door neighbor Jerry Federici of 98 Perry Ave., a retired Port Chester school district administrator. "Why would I say no? It's a good thing."

Federici, who grew up in this house and moved back in after he got married in 1981, said he had a week's notice from movie location people because they would be installing some lights in his yard to shine into the house next door after dark.

Baker had come by the day before and talked to him for a half hour about the neighborhood.

He said upfront people had been there every morning around 7 on and off for the past week preparing the interior of the two-story house to look like 1982.

"They are quiet as church mice," he said. "They haven't been a distraction to anyone."

"Everybody has been wonderful and very cooperative," he said. He was impressed with their attention to detail. "It's a well-oiled machine," he said. "Everyone has their role to play."

"I've been trying to help them out because I'm the old man on the block," said Federici.

As he talked, Hoffman walked by on the sidewalk from Neuton Avenue toward the house, trying his best to blend in and not draw attention. Federici took note, saying Hoffman didn't look like he had expected him to.

"Philip Seymour Hoffman was walking in front of my house, a first for me!" he exclaimed.

When Hoffman walked by again about a half hour later heading toward Neuton, neighborhood resident Joe Vita Jr. ran after him with his dog Cooper in an effort to talk to the Academy Award-winning actor, but he didn't get much of a reaction.

Federici said his wife Kathy, a Port Chester Middle School phys ed teacher, had more luck interacting with the actors when she took their golden retriever over to Neuton Avenue where they were eating and hanging out.