There is no shortage of frustration over Too $hort’s Freaky Tales filming in Oakland, where business owners say film crews blocking their storefronts have cost them tens of thousands of dollars — and they were not given much notice that all this would be happening.
Hoodline had a great feel-good story early this month over the news that Oakland rapper Too $hort was getting a street named after him, in a stretch next to his alma mater Fremont High school. And now we learn that apparently it’s related to a movie shoot for a film for which Too $hort is the executive producer called Freaky Tales, named for his 1987 track of the same name.
Normani & Dominique Thorne on the set of Freaky Tales | Set in 1987 🎬 pic.twitter.com/RwzE4nZr1G— James (@jam3swin) December 13, 2022
The film did indeed shoot in Oakland last week, and is set in 1987 Oakland. Check out those vintage late 1980s threads! Per the film’s IMDB description, “Four interconnected stories set in 1987 Oakland, CA will tell about the love of music, movies, people, places and memories beyond our knowable universe.” In addition to Dominique Thorne (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), the film stars The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal and Ben Mendelson (Rogue One).
"Hollywood ran roughshod all over Oakland, and Oakland allowed it." Big-name stars. Famous directors. Some merchants say the "Freaky Tales" movie being filmed in @Oakland - named after the iconic song by rapper @TooShort - is an unwelcome spectacle. https://t.co/VaXKFo8jnE pic.twitter.com/qApIW0lgOw— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) December 14, 2022
But KTVU reports that Oakland business owners are up in arms over how they were given little notice of the film shoot’s disruptions, and how the large technical crews have blocked their storefronts. "This love letter of a film to Oakland is going to destroy Uptown and revert it back, and it’s going to be a lose-lose-lose situation," Make Westing bar owner Glenn Kaplan told KTVU. "They didn’t help Oakland at all. They helped Hollywood, and Hollywood ran roughshod all over Oakland, and Oakland allowed it."
"They blocked off the area, so there’s no parking, our regulars who live in the neighborhood were furious because 1980s film cars were sitting here," he added. "They tried to put port-a-potties in front of our bar, they tried to move our neighbor’s parklet that was rat-infested in front of our bar."
Freaky Tales movie (loosely inspired by Too Short’s music) filming now in Oakland- and apparently we’ve got Tom Hanks on set in a Colonial Donuts shirt!— Sean O'Shea (@EastBayBias) November 16, 2022
H/T @FeelmoreAdult IG https://t.co/RZfZ8Wazd5 pic.twitter.com/uZufJx75LW
And while the adult shop Feelmore may have seem pleased in the (since deleted) Instagram post screenshotted above, the shoot ended up being bad for their business. “You’re circling for parking and now you see these big trucks taking up two or three, four times the parking space" owner Nenna Joiner told KTVU. "We need to have more coordination with the small businesses as well as the city of Oakland and also the film crew.”
Freaky Tales shooting in Oakland. Gotta love a movie based on a Digital Underground tune. pic.twitter.com/ZdDcFfhvmc— delaney (@DirectedByKW) December 8, 2022
And while this may be great exposure for the Grand Lake Theater, who put 1980s movie names on their marquee for the shoot, other businesses argue that the film shoot has been a negative financial hit to them. "People who work in the area, they only get 30 minutes for lunch, or 15 minutes for a break,” Mama T’s restaurant owner Teena Johnson told KGO after a previous November shoot for the film. “So, when they come out and turn this corner and see all this, they wonder if we are even open. So, yes I am losing business."
At that time, City of Oakland communications director Karen Boyd told KGO "The (movie's) location manager and her team of scouts have been engaged in a robust communication plan with the affected businesses along the street closures. This has included face-to-face communication and flyer distribution in the area."
That communication may not have been as “robust” as it ought to have been. And maybe this can be corrected going forward. KGO reported in November that “The movie continues to film in Oakland and other parts of the East Bay through January.”
TOO $HORT WAY📍— PHSMSB_OFFICIAL (@PHSMSB_official) December 11, 2022
It was an honor to perform our arrangement of Too $hort classics for him! To close out the event… no explanation needed if you’re from the bay #iykyk
Thank you $hort for inviting us to be part of your celebration! You are a Bay Area legend! pic.twitter.com/8CyCinvauf
In the long run, this will probably be fantastic exposure for Oakland, but it’s clearly been a financial burden for several small businesses. And Oakland clearly has some work to do vis a vis a film commission or similar that handles these shoots. KTVU adds that some area residents did receive fliers "with a number to call with any concerns or complaints." But, "That number goes straight to a voice mail."
Image: sadofilms via Twitter.