Don't cry for the crew of Girls—everyone involved already has a new job

Viewers hooked on Hannah and her group of self-involved 20-something friends might be sad that Lena Dunham's HBO series Girls is ending. But when the show’s final-season premiere aired on Feb. 12, most of the crew members who had worked on it for the...

Don't cry for the crew of Girls—everyone involved already has a new job

Viewers hooked on Hannah and her group of self-involved 20-something friends might be sad that Lena Dunham's HBO series Girls is ending. But when the show’s final-season premiere aired on Feb. 12, most of the crew members who had worked on it for the past six years were likely too busy to notice.

Girls, which will air its last episode on April 16, wrapped filming at the end of September. Within days the 125-person crew of set decorators, location scouts, costumers and other artisans had already taken on new jobs.

Even the soundstage where Girls filmed at Silvercup Studios was quickly booked up by its next tenant, Divorce, an HBO show starring Sarah Jessica Parker.

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Crew members from Girls say the job market in their industry today is nothing like it was back in 2010, when the show’s pilot was shot. The combination of the state’s tax credit and the influx of new players in television production such as Netflix and Hulu has created a workers’ market for below-the-line jobs. The number of pilots shooting in New York this spring hasn’t been released yet, but based on what insiders are seeing so far, they say it could set a record.

“Anybody who is not working now is not working by choice,” said Ilene S. Landress, the show’s executive producer, referring to the roughly 130,000 unionized crew members working on local productions. And they aren’t the only city workers benefiting from the filming boom.

Girls was a boon for many neighborhood businesses. Throughout its six years the production spent more than $38 million at more than 2,000 local vendors, such as Mutual Hardware, Tribeca Office Supply and LIC Market, according to HBO. On-location shoots made destinations out of nearby Brooklyn establishments like Speedy Romeo and Café Grumpy, where fans now come to take pictures.

“We tried to find locations that felt real to the characters,” said production designer Matt Munn. “That could be done only in New York.”

Viewers hooked on Hannah and her group of self-involved 20-something friends might be sad that Lena Dunham's HBO series Girls is ending. But when the show’s final-season premiere aired on Feb. 12, most of the crew members who had worked on it for the past six years were likely too busy to notice.

Girls, which will air its last episode on April 16, wrapped filming at the end of September. Within days the 125-person crew of set decorators, location scouts, costumers and other artisans had already taken on new jobs.

Even the soundstage where Girls filmed at Silvercup Studios was quickly booked up by its next tenant, Divorce, an HBO show starring Sarah Jessica Parker.

Crew members from Girls say the job market in their industry today is nothing like it was back in 2010, when the show’s pilot was shot. The combination of the state’s tax credit and the influx of new players in television production such as Netflix and Hulu has created a workers’ market for below-the-line jobs. The number of pilots shooting in New York this spring hasn’t been released yet, but based on what insiders are seeing so far, they say it could set a record.

“Anybody who is not working now is not working by choice,” said Ilene S. Landress, the show’s executive producer, referring to the roughly 130,000 unionized crew members working on local productions. And they aren’t the only city workers benefiting from the filming boom.

Girls was a boon for many neighborhood businesses. Throughout its six years the production spent more than $38 million at more than 2,000 local vendors, such as Mutual Hardware, Tribeca Office Supply and LIC Market, according to HBO. On-location shoots made destinations out of nearby Brooklyn establishments like Speedy Romeo and Café Grumpy, where fans now come to take pictures.

“We tried to find locations that felt real to the characters,” said production designer Matt Munn. “That could be done only in New York.”

A version of this article appears in the February 27, 2017, print issue of Crain's New York Business as "Demand performance".

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