‘Affair’ to Continue in Beach Hampton

A Showtime production that angered residents to be back in late May.
Town officials have granted a permit for the makers of Showtime's "The Affair" to return to a neighborhood that grew tired of the production company's presence in 2013.

“The Affair,” a Showtime series for which a pilot was filmed here last fall, has been picked up for a season’s production — good news for its producers, but not so welcome for residents of Amagansett’s Beach Hampton neighborhood who were disturbed by truck noise and lights when nighttime taping took place at a Marine Boulevard house.

The show’s creators have returned to East Hampton Town officials for permission to film from May 27 through June 4 at various locations, including the Amagansett house, and the town board discussed the matter with them at a work session on Tuesday. Beach Hampton residents were there as well to voice their concerns.

“Last year’s film shoot in the Amagansett dunes was not a pleasant experience,” Diana Walker, a neighborhood resident, told the board.

“Friday night, shooting all night. Friday is when people come out,” said Rona Klopman, president of the Amagansett East neighborhood association.

Last year, she said, “multiple streets were blocked . . . so it’s very burdensome to the community, what they intend to do.”

Chris Goode, a producer, said that the show’s pilot established the Marine Boulevard house as the residence of a key character in “The Affair,” a drama that, according to Showtime, explores “the psychological effects of an affair between a married waitress at a Hamptons diner and a teacher who spends the summer at his in-laws’ estate on the island.” If not for that, he said, they would move the shoot to a house where disruption to the neighborhood could be minimized. Should the show be successful, he said, a new residence for the character could be established at the start of a second season.

Although according to town code, a filming permit is normally issued by the town clerk without board review, Carole Brennan, the clerk, sought board members’ approval because of controversy and complaints after the five-day shoot in Amagansett last year.

This year, the site would be used for just one night. In light of that, and of the precedent set by the permission granted in the fall, a board majority agreed Tuesday that the permit should be issued. Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc and Councilwoman Sylvia Overby suggested excluding the Beach Hampton house from the list of approved filming locations, or modifying the hours that the house could be used.

Perhaps, Ms. Overby said, the character’s residence could be altered between the pilot of the program and the inception of its regular episodes, instead of waiting for a subsequent season.

The drama was created by Sarah Treem, of “House of Cards,” the popular Netflix series starring Kevin Spacey, and Hagai Levi, whose credits include the program “In Treatment.” It stars Dominic West.

“Congratulations,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell told Mr. Goode. “I’m very happy that you’ve chosen our town to use,” he said. “My concern is going to center on the disruption to quiet residential neighborhoods.” “The devil’s in the details here,” he said. The supervisor grilled Mr. Goode and Andrew Poppoon, an assistant location manager, about just what would happen on May 30, when the Beach Hampton shoot is planned from noon to 1 or 2 a.m.

This time around, the crew has proposed using an alternate parking spot, perhaps at Atlantic Avenue beach, for its large equipment trucks and bringing only smaller trucks down the tight Beach Hampton streets. Neighbors’ driveways will also be rented for additional space.

Accommodating the film and television industry here has “economic value to the community,” Mr. Cantwell said. “I do get extremely sensitive, though, when people are inconvenienced to any significant degree.” “I’m going to expect you to live to the letter of your permit requirements,” the supervisor told the production company's representatives.

“Period. No exceptions.” And, he said, “If we issue permits for this, we’re not locking in to any future permits for you whatever.” Mr. Goode said that three episodes would be taped in June, and that additional production here is planned for July.

The show’s first season will comprise nine consecutive episodes, he said.

“In September, I want you to feel good that we followed the rules,” he told the board. “Where we need clarification is, what are the rules? Because we wouldn’t have gone to this neighborhood.. . .”

“One of the issues that’s come up,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said Tuesday, “is that the town doesn’t really have a set of rules with regard to what this kind of filming can bring.” Last year, a filming permit was issued to the crew of “The Affair” by the town clerk’s office, according to procedure, without discussion by the town board.

Bill Wilkinson, the former supervisor, however, was apprised of the proposal by Fred Overton, then the town clerk and now a councilman, who referred the film location manager to the supervisor.

Residents who complained to the town board about the impacts of the shoot last fall were criticized by Mr. Wilkinson, who called their complaints “capricious and silly,” and by former Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, who accused them of a political ploy against Republicans.

Mr. Van Scoyoc suggested last fall that the board discuss instituting a review process when film or television production permit applications call for extensive activity. East Hampton residents, he said then, should have a chance to weigh in on what they would tolerate.

On Tuesday, Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez offered to undertake a review of the town’s regulations and fees for film permits.

Ms. Klopman suggested that the town should significantly increase the daily fees charged for filming, which are now $250, and, she said, a fraction of those charged in other municipalities. “The fees should be proportional to the value of the shoot,” she said.

In one instance in South Carolina, she said, the fee is $1,500 a day, or 1 percent of the film company’s gross expenditures for the shoot, and filming is prohibited in certain neighborhoods.

All costs incurred by the town related to the taping, such as for police services, will be paid by the production company. For the film shoot last fall, the Showtime production paid the town a total of $30,100.

Additional taping this year will take place in Montauk at Deep Hollow Ranch, Turtle Cove, the train station, along Montauk Highway, and in the dock area, and at the Lobster Roll restaurant on Napeague.