Do you happen to know how many movies have been filmed in New York? Before you start consulting your trusted search engine – this probably is a number impossible to figure out. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, 115 movies and 113 TV series were filmed in New York State in 2011 alone. Considering those staggering numbers, it’s a thin line to boredom when Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Batman, and the local CSI team dash through the same Manhattan streets following their respective mission. On the upside, there hardly is a higher chance to bump into actors in the streets or witness the actual filming.

Set of "White Collar" On the set of the TV show “White Collar”

Now, what is an effective way to spot a movie set? First of all, keep an eye out for lamp poles. A day or two before filming, notices will be put up to inform the neighborhood. On the actual filming day the trailers, equipment, and catering tents of course give away what’s going on. If it’s an indoor shooting, there rarely is a chance to see actors and crew at work while for outdoor scenes it is mostly allowed to watch from a distance. If you stay long enough after the wrap-up, you might even be lucky enough to get a photo with your on-screen hero.

Filming Notice Filming notice, Photo via Dumbo NYC

Set of "White Collar"
My friend Claudia got a snap with White Collar’s Tim DeKay near her Inwood home.

If you missed out on the action, there are plenty of previous filming locations to visit. For those who are short on time and prefer a quick look at the locations, a bus tour around Manhattan is the easiest way to go. On Location Tours offers different routes either by borough or by TV show – including the well-known “Sex and the City” tour. Each of their round-trips takes about 3 hours and is constantly updated with new locations. Alternatively, countless websites listing the city’s movie locations invite the more experienced New York visitors to go explore the famous facades on their own. Aside from the most famous locations – namely top tourist attractions like Times Square, Central Park, and Wall Street – there is a lot to discover off the beaten path. The most comprehensive website in this regard perhaps is On the Set of New York. Not only do they list where to find a movie location but also offer additional screenshots to refresh your memory.

Sex and the City location
A location from the “Sex and the City” movie: Buddakan (75 9th Avenue & West 16th Street)

Ghostbusters Ghostbusters! (North Moore Street)

And since nothing is impossible in New York: Why not make it on the screen yourself? Many popular TV shows are filmed in the city and offer the opportunity to join the audience for free. The waiting lists for tickets sometimes is long, especially for the top shows, so it’s best to write in for them far in advance. Take a look at the NYC official website for addresses and schedules for New York based TV shows.

Good Afternoon America In the studio of ABC’s “Good Afternoon America”

Cordula Schaefer Cordula Schaefer is a photography enthusiast who loves to venture out to explore new places and hardly ever leaves the house without a camera. A New Yorker at heart, she is especially fond of city trips and has a soft spot for beautiful beachscapes. She currently bases herself in Berlin and keeps the visual documents of her travels at Cordugram.