A large lighting structure crowds an eastbound lane.
Parked trucks line the street for two blocks.
It’s a 16-hour day of filming for a made-for-TV movie is taking place on Merton Street, with actor Phylicia Rashad from The Cosby Show as a cast member.
According to residents, this is just business as usual on Merton.
Barb Cooper has lived here for six years and said nobody seems to mind the film crews, who in mid-September, were busy using a vacant building at 130 Merton Street for the fourth time this year.
“They’re never any bother,” she said. “It doesn’t impact us at all. You’d hardly know people live here. You never see people come or go”
A large part of the reason why Merton residents aren’t bothered by the film crews is the good working relationship the city’s film board has with residents, says Peter Finestone, film commissioner for the City of Toronto.
“The industry is very grateful for the cooperation from residents and businesses wherever they go,” he said. “It’s fantastic, people are really accommodating. There are 25,000 people who make their living (in film). And by neighbours helping, film shoots happen and those people continue to get work.”
While Cooper said film crews seem commonplace to many people living on Merton, it’s not nearly the busiest filming area. On average, Toronto issues about 5,000 permits annually.
“There are lots of streets in the city that never get used — there are literally thousands of them,” Finesetone said. “(Four times) is more than lots of places, but it’s not as extreme as some … Merton would be in the ‘average use’ category. It’s not heavily used and it’s not infrequently used.”
The street does possess a wide range of opportunity, which Finestone says could be a reason for attracting the attention. He noted the many condominiums, as well as other businesses, plus the beltway to the south of the street and the nearby Mount Pleasant Cemetery, which all serve as backdrops for filming.
“There are some different looks,” he said. “It’s not always clear just because a truck is parked somewhere what is being filmed. There’s flexibility on a street like Merton for some different looks and different opportunities.”
Once known as ‘condo alley’, Cooper says it’s ‘a very mixed street’, and it’s likely that film crews come often because the north side is all businesses, while the south is all condominiums. She said another reason people don’t have a problem with the film trucks parked along the two-lane street, is that they don’t interfere with traffic.
“It’s pretty much a thoroughfare because a lot of traffic comes down here … (But) there’s not a problem with parking — there’s a municipal lot outside and there’s an inside one,” she said.
“It’s also not as if there are a whole bunch of houses and people are complaining.”
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