After ‘Fast & Furious’ protests, commercial filming disturbs neighbors

Weeks after protesters rallied against the set of the latest ‘Fast & Furious’ movie in Angelino Heights, a commercial shoot for Rockstar Energy Drink caught some locals by surprise on Thursday, reigniting concerns that the on-screen stunts result in street takeovers and other dangerous driving. to their community.

The shoot featured a sports car bearing the Rockstar logo parked outside Bob’s Market, which became famous as the location of a liquor store owned by the family of star character Vin Diesel in the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise. “.

Movie fans, locals say, flocked to Angelino Heights to run through the streets, do burnouts and donuts, and stop for selfies outside Bob’s Market. On August 26, the filming of the franchise’s 10th installment, “Fast X,” drew a crowd of protesters, who argued that the films glorified street racing and illegal takeovers, fueling a dangerous trend not only in their neighborhood, but wherever the films resonated. with young drivers.

Thursday’s commercial shoot has been approved for filming from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 1234 Bellevue Ave., the address of Bob’s Market, according to a notice provided to The Times by FilmLA.

“This permit specifically prohibits donuts, burnouts or street racing,” said Paul Audley, spokesman for the nonprofit, which serves as the city’s official film office. “There has been general support in the neighborhood for the filming and applications are carefully reviewed prior to city approval.”

Although the productions did not directly involve racing on city streets, Michele McKinnon said Thursday’s ad was another example of a dangerous pattern. The “Fast & Furious” franchise in particular, she said, drew a crowd of runners.

Protesters hold a press conference behind a depiction of a street racing victim during the filming of “Fast X” August 26 in Angelino Heights.

(Wesley Lapointe/Los Angeles Times)

“It definitely made this residential street an iconic place to do street errands and take pictures in front of Bob’s Market and then do burnouts around the corner,” McKinnon said. “It happens several times a week. Every weekend it happens here. We have been calling the police for many years. They don’t show up.

Meetings with FilmLA and with city council members did not yield solutions, she said.

McKinnon said the decision to approve an ad involving a race car three weeks after residents called out such productions was in bad taste.

“We locals said they were abusing this neighborhood,” she said.

Some neighbors have been pushing for streets to be redesigned to discourage street racing.

Claire Simonich, who lives across Bellevue from Bob’s Market, said a small triangle-shaped park across the street could be expanded to narrow lanes and encourage slower driving.

The city installed plastic bollards, but they didn’t have much effect, she said.

“Expand the park at least to the bollards and see if there are any structural changes to the road,” said Simonich, who moved to Angelino Heights in 2018. “A road diet would reduce that.”

Tad Yenawine, a neighborhood resident since 1997, told The Times that speed bumps installed by one of his neighbors helped calm the situation.

He was not aware of any deaths caused by street racing or takeovers in Angelino Heights, but said drivers engaging in dangerous behavior crashed into neighbors’ cars.

More restrictions should be placed on film crews on location rather than in the studio, he said, adding that officials do not give enough attention or consideration to residents’ concerns when approving plans. filming requests.

“The real problem is that film companies get whatever they want,” Yenawine said.

Audley, the spokesperson for FilmLA, said the nonprofit processes applications, obtains city department approvals for requests such as road closures, and forwards requests for final approval by the police department. from Los Angeles.

If the LAPD signs off, FilmLA issues the permit to the production, he said.

A police spokesperson said a detective was unavailable Thursday to discuss residents’ concerns. Statistics on the number of street takeovers, runs and other cases of illegal driving reported to the LAPD in recent months were not available.

For McKinnon and other residents, the search for answers continues amid growing concerns.

“It’s only a matter of time before someone is killed here, and we can’t get help,” she said.

Regarding Thursday’s commercial production, McKinnon said she later found out that the stunt driving would be filmed in a separate location.

A representative for PepsiCo, which owns Rockstar, could not be reached for comment.

Los Angeles Times

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