'Freaky Tales' movie shoot irking some Oakland merchants

Big-name stars, famous directors, and a Bay Area rapper.

A movie being filmed in Oakland promises to raise the city's profile, but not everyone is happy: some merchants say this glitzy production is an unwelcome spectacle. 

"They didn’t help Oakland at all. They helped Hollywood, and Hollywood ran roughshod all over 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 movie has shut down streets and cost him business, with no advance warning. This, after merchants are being challenged by the coronavirus and smash-and-grabs.

"We got no notifications, zero update, no compensation," he said, adding that filming has gone beyond posted times.

"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," he said.

Well-known Bay Area rapper Too $hort is executive producing the movie "Freaky Tales," inspired by his iconic song. The movie is set in 1987 Oakland.

"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," Kaplan said.

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

But Kaplan is super-annoyed.

"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," he said,

Supporters say the movie is good for Oakland. This past weekend, Mayor Libby Schaaf was on hand as the city renamed part of Foothill Boulevard after Too $hort.

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

"So they cost us $30,000 at a time when we have no capital and cannot afford any loss like that," Kaplan said.

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

"How about patronizing the business, spending some money, since I’m here, I got employees I got to pay, and you don’t spend any money with me on this multi-million dollar film?" Johnson said.

Nenna Joiner, another business owner said, "You’re circling for parking and now you see these big trucks taking up two or three, four times the parking space."

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

SEE ALSO: Oakland may rename street for Too Short

Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife, who represents part of downtown, told KTVU, "While I eagerly welcome the film industry to Oakland, the communication about street closures and related activity must be clearly communicated from the city administration to our businesses. Many of them are still experiencing the challenges of surviving in the city post-COVID, and any interruption can create serious harm."

She added, "I’ve raised this issue with the city administrator, who has agreed to make appropriate changes so we don’t have these issues in the future.

Some residents say they have gotten fliers with a number to call with any concerns or complaints. That number goes straight to a voice mail.