Freaky Tales film shoot angers some Oakland merchants

Well-known stars, famous directors and a rapper from the Bay Area.

A movie set in Oakland promises to raise the city’s profile, but not everyone is happy: some dealers say this glitzy production is an unwelcome spectacle.

“They didn’t help Oakland at all. They helped Hollywood, and Hollywood trampled on all of Oakland, and Oakland allowed it,” said Glenn Kaplan, owner of Make Westing, a bar at 17th Street and Telegraph Avenue in downtown Oakland.

Kaplan says the film closed roads without warning and cost him business. This after traders were challenged by the coronavirus and smash-and-grabs.

“We have received no notifications, no update, no compensation,” he said, adding that filming had continued beyond published times.

“They tried to put port-a-potties in front of our bar, they tried to put our neighbor’s rat-infested parklet in front of our bar,” he said.

Popular Bay Area rapper Too $hort is executive producing the film “Freaky Tales,” which was inspired by his iconic song. The film is set in Oakland in 1987.

“They cordoned off the area, so there’s no parking. Our regulars who live in the neighborhood were angry because there were 1980s movie cars parked here,” Kaplan said.

It’s a star-studded affair that includes co-directing the superhero film Captain Marvel.

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But Kaplan is super annoyed.

“This love letter from a movie to Oakland is going to destroy Uptown and turn it back, and it’s going to be lose-lose-lose,” he said.

Supporters say the film is good for Oakland. Last weekend, Mayor Libby Schaaf was present when the city renamed part of Foothill Boulevard Too $hort.

All the glitz and glamour, a stark contrast to the empty downtown storefronts.

“So they’re costing us $30,000 at a time when we don’t have capital and can’t afford losses like that,” Kaplan said.

Teena Johnson owns Mama T’s restaurant downtown. She thought the film would bring her more business. But she says food was provided for those working on the film.

“How about patronizing the business, spending some money since I’m here, I have employees to pay, and you’re not spending money with me on this multi-million dollar film?” Johnson said.

Nenna Joiner, another business owner, said, “You circle to park and now you see these big trucks taking up two, three, four times the parking lot.”

Joiner said, “We need to have more coordination with the small businesses as well as the City of Oakland and also the film crew.”

SEE ALSO: Oakland may rename the street Too Short

Carroll Fife, an Oakland City Council member who represents a portion of downtown, told KTVU, “While I welcome the film industry in Oakland, communications regarding road closures and related activities must be clearly communicated by the city government to our businesses. Many of them still face the challenges of surviving in the post-COVID city, and any disruption can cause serious harm.”

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She added: “I raised this issue with the city manager who agreed to make appropriate changes so that we don’t have these issues in the future.

Some residents say they were given flyers with a number to call if they had any concerns or complaints. This number goes straight to a voicemail.

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