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Industry Star of the Month

Joseph Ellis, NYPD

Joseph Ellis There are many behind-the-scenes players on any film or tv project, but Joseph L. Ellis III is a pro whose critical presence is felt by production crews, motorists and pedestrians alike. As the Traffic Manager for the Traffic Intelligence Unit (TIU) of the NYPD, Mr. Ellis deploys traffic agents for special film, television and commercial scenes that work on location, and solves gridlock problems before they start. "I like the challenge of working with production companies, because they come up with outrageous, creative requests," he says.

Whether Changing Lanes is shooting on the FDR or Spiderman is spinning his web in Times Square, he keeps the tangles out of traffic - and New York City in the big picture. "We���ll handle scenes as whimsical as sheep running down the street in the Times Square area for a David Letterman stunt, to shots on the Brooklyn Bridge for films like Stay," says Ellis. In addition to managing traffic for film and television shoots, he supervises other TIU activities which include patrolling highways to monitor authorized tow companies, enforcing motor carrier trucks or construction compliance, and providing agents for emergency response, among other things.

A veteran of the department since January 1985, Ellis saves time for production companies by streamlining his services, and his procedure is simple. After the Mayor���s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting (MOFTB) vets the company request, a meeting is arranged between the production, TIU, MOFTB and the NYPD Movie/TV Unit to assess the film/television project needs and collect information about the time, location and other specifications of the shoot. Based on this meeting, Ellis determines necessary resources and once all parties agree to the plan��� the production company provides him with a formal letter of intent which reiterates the scene requirements and provisions for traffic agents that were discussed.

If necessary, he will arrange a tech scout to visit the site, make further suggestions and execute a plan involving the least disruption to vehicular and pedestrian traffic ��� and he always reviews the camera angle to ensure that traffic agents are placed outside the sight lines.

The majority of shoots are small and requests can be handled over the phone with a 48-hour turnaround. Letterman���s sheep stunt fell into this category. "Animals and cars don���t mix," said Mr. Ellis, "so my job was to create separate spaces for people, cars and animals."

Larger productions, such as the feature film Stay on the Brooklyn Bridge, involve several months of planning. Tech scouts are essential under such circumstances, and an "adequate information system" with variable message signs for motorists and media notification are usually implemented. Ellis will liaise with the City and State Departments of Transportation in these cases. Following up to make subtle adjustments as needed, is standard procedure for all productions.

Ellis' unit also handles a service for production companies that minimizes the impact of production parking in neighborhoods, and saves money for the company. The "VTU" Program, which services not only film productions but all major events throughout New York City, is an asset to all City residents. Prior to the inception of this service, productions were forced to hold parking spaces for long periods and allocate extra manpower for this purpose.

While balancing the interests of production companies and the needs of residents and motorists keeps him on his toes, at the end of the day he enjoys the satisfaction of seeing it all work, and providing a service for the City. And, he adds, he always gets to see a private rehearsal before the final take. Many thanks to our Agency Star of the Month Joseph L. Ellis III, for keeping parking issues to a minimum, traffic flowing - and the City on center stage.

Industry Star


Margarita Acevedo, Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting
John Battista, Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting
Tom Reidy, Madison Square Park
Steven Holtzman, Canal Creatures Productions

2012
Jennifer Lenihan, Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting
Lynne Meadow, Manhattan Theatre Club
Thomas O'Donnell, Local 817
Katy Finch, Brooklyn Workforce Innovations
Meredith Conti, Grand Central Terminal


2011
Gino Lucci, Picture Cars East
Habibah Ali-Love, OFTB
McCord Fitzsimmons, Former OFTB Intern
Lis Pearson, New York Public Library
Veronica Miles, EcoSet
Lisa Rubin, Hudson River Park Trust
Mari Jo Winkler, PGA Green
Michael Super, Coney Island, Parks and Recreational Manager
Caroline Stephenson, NYC Economic Development Corporation
Lisa Lucas, Tribeca Film Institute


2010
Harriet Taub, Material for the Arts
David Moy, OFTB
Fred Cerullo, Grand Central Partnership
Marge Feinberg, DOE
Nate Grove, Marinas
Frank Gribbon, FDNY
Jeffrey Sangrund, Brooklyn Bridge Park
Javonne Parker, Staten Island Ferry
Justin Green, Build It Green! NYC
Tom Ross, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent"
Eric Peterson, Randall's Island
Connie Fitzgerald, Department of Environmental Protection


2009
Joey Violante, Technicolor
Stephanie Argamaso, OFTB
Vito Turso, DSNY
Elizabeth Rapuano, Governor's Island
Estelle Cooper, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Alvah Holmes, Former MOFTB Intern
Dana Kuznetzkoff, Line Producer
Eva Radke, Film Biz Recycling
Karen Meyerhoff, Guggenheim
Meredith Rothstein, Roseland Ballroom
Charlotte St. Martin, The Broadway League


2008
The Artists Company
Celina Sze, OFTB
Sharon Jensen, The Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts
Terence Gray, New York Television Festival
Sam Levy, Summer Play Festival
Wes French, General Services Administration
Tom Maiorano, Brooklyn Navy Yard
Joan Cooney, South Street Seaport
Jeannine Marotta, Staten Island Economic Development Corporation
Brooke Smy, Tishman Speyer
Elliott Kerman, Tax Credit Accountant


2007
Matthew Kania, Assistant Location Manager
Lieutenant Joe Lassen, Movie/TV Unit
In Memoriam - Nancy Littlefield
Ivory Henderson-Robb, Department of Transportation
Jack Powers, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Robin Forst, Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center
Kitty Preston, CUNY Locations
Liz Carollo, Greenmarket
Donna Masly, Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation
Sean Jones, New York City Department of Corrections
Sheila Greene, NYCHA


2006
Ralph Musolino, Parks and Recreation
Rick Cotton, NBC Universal
Joe Fontao, Location Manager
Gretchen McGowan, HDNet Films/Open City Films
Tim Tompkins, Times Square Alliance
Erika Feldman, Theatre Row
Vin Lenza, Staten Island Development Corporation
Tristan Assent, "Made in NY" PA
Denise Motta, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Terry Lawler, New York Women in Film and Television
Monty Ross, 40 Acres and a Mule


2005
Pat White, Local 764
Michelle Byrd, Independent Feature Project
Matt Miller, AICP
Kyle McCarthy, MTA Metro-North
Jeannette Pinero, Department of Correction
Bambi Brook, Dawn Animal Agency
Andy Nagy, NYCHA
Juan Rosario, HPD
James J. Claffey, Jr., IATSE Local One
Mac Brown, Producer
Cheryl Hodge, VTU
Llewellyn Wells, Executive Producer
Lawrence Major, Parks and Recreation


2004
Ken Konfong, Economic Development Corporation
Whoopi Goldberg, Actress/Producer
Caroline Baron, FilmAid International
Thomas O'Donnell Sr., Local 817
Drew Jiritano, Special Effects Coordinator
Carla Rajj, Location Manager
Al Cerullo, Film Pilot
James Lauer, FDNY
Dan Mercado, Parks and Recreation
Rebecca Seale, DCAS
Alberteen Anderson, MTA
Joseph Ellis, NYPD
Peter Basich, DOT
Richie Silverman, NYPD