No question, Hyde Park is a picture-perfect, signature Tampa neighborhood. It is so appealing that film production crews have discovered the oak-lined cobblestone streets, architecturally significant houses and landscaped lawns as backdrops for television commercials.
That’s happening enough lately that some residents see it as an intrusion; the videographers with bright lights, the trucks with roaring generators, the caterers feeding production staff on manicured yards and swept sidewalks.
It’s so very un-Hyde-Park-like, said resident Larry Thornberry, who thinks production crews filming television commercials creates more than a distraction in the historic, upscale neighborhood, even though it only happens a couple of times a month, if that.
“Filming is an industrial use,” he said. “To film a commercial, you need dozens of people and you need, from looks of it, as many vehicles as they had for the D-Day invasion.
“They need lot of power, so one of the trucks usually contains a noisy generator,” he said. “Good luck if you’re in the house that that is parked in front of.”
There is clamor, congestion, and the streets in Hyde Park are narrow to begin with, he said. With production trucks parked on the street, “it’s hard for traffic to get through. Sometimes commercials require filming in the street and they close the street altogether.
“It’s a real imposition on the neighbors, almost an assault,” he said. “My fear is that if they are really successful, they will be filming two to three times a week down here.”
City spokeswoman Ali Glisson said permits are only required from the city if the production blocks the right of way or causes a major interruption for traffic. The permit is the same type required if a neighborhood wants to close a street for a block party, she said.
“As for shoots in the Old Hyde Park area,” she said, “there was one shoot last week over on Orleans which closed two blocks from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There was another shoot over on Magnolia a few weeks before.”
She said that if a right-of-way permit is issued, the production company is required to notify affected homeowners.
If it’s not a major interruption — such as when a shoot is roaming instead of in a fixed spot and a street does not need to be closed — the company works with Tampa police on traffic-safety issues, Glisson said.
Hyde Park’s ambiance is perfect for some commercials, said Ren Scott of Ren Scott Marketing, which uses the neighborhood as a backdrop for some television commercials.
“If you’re looking for a beautiful neighborhood, there’s not much better than Hyde Park,” he said. “There’s a wide range of homes to choose from, grand ones and more modest ones. But they’re all well-kept.”
Typically, a shoot in Hyde Park lasts only a day, he said, and his company tries to minimize the impact on the neighborhood.
“We’ve shot a dozen commercials in that area,” and try to accommodate those who live in the neighborhood, Scott said. He said larger companies might come in with lots of people and big trucks but his doesn’t. “They make a big deal out of it. We’re a smaller company.”
“There are certain things you try to be careful about,” he said. “I live in South Tampa and I don’t want somebody coming to take over my neighborhood.”
Commercials that Scott shoots in Hyde Park and South Tampa neighborhoods typically are for financial institutions offering home loans for houses like the ones in Hyde Park or health care-related companies depicting people with a good quality of life in nice homes with nice yards.
When larger production companies show up they have trucks and caterers and about 40 people, he said. His agency has two videographers, a sound technician, some staff and usually no more than 10 people, he said. “And we stay pretty much on the person’s property.
“When we shoot in Hyde Park, we usually shoot with a specific homeowner, depending on the look we’re trying for, or to get a certain feel,” Scott said. “When we’re in a large public place, like out in the street, we do apply for a permit to make sure we’re abiding by the law.”
Owners of homes where shoots take place are paid a fee for the day, he said.
“Hyde Park is a scenic place,” he said, “a really attractive neighborhood.”