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Old May 28th, 2008, 03:57 PM   #1
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Do I need a permit?

When I'm filming out in public with my XL2, it always turns some heads. Sometimes those heads belong to security guards and policemen. I've been confronted many times by these people and they always say I need a permit to film out in public.

Is this true?

It seems like it'd be true if I was in a particular store or something, but out on the streets?
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Old May 28th, 2008, 04:04 PM   #2
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I always thought that you only needed a permit if you're using a tripod...but for handheld you didn't. BUT, in the post 9-11 world things are a bit different. I know in NY, you can get arrested if you're seen shooting (videotaping that is) any landmarks like bridges and such...so keep that in mind.

You can probably contact your local film office for clarification.
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Old May 28th, 2008, 04:12 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Mike Meyerson View Post
BUT, in the post 9-11 world things are a bit different. I know in NY, you can get arrested if you're seen shooting (videotaping that is) any landmarks like bridges and such...so keep that in mind.
A common misconception is that the laws and rights regarding photography have somehow changed after 9-11. They haven't. Below is a link to a document that I always recommend when these questions come up. How much or how little you decide to stand up for yourself in any given situation is up to you.

http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

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Old May 28th, 2008, 04:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dusty Johnson View Post
When I'm filming out in public with my XL2, it always turns some heads. Sometimes those heads belong to security guards and policemen. I've been confronted many times by these people and they always say I need a permit to film out in public.

Is this true?

It seems like it'd be true if I was in a particular store or something, but out on the streets?
Check your state or city. If you do need a permit, it's most likely a city ordinance. It's certainly not Federal. Typically, permits are required for filming on federal, state, county or city property. Some cities go as far as including streets and sidewalks as "city property". Often, these city ordinances are kept purposly vague, giving police officers broad discretion in enforcing the rules.
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Old May 28th, 2008, 04:21 PM   #5
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Uhh.. I guess Greg beat me to the punch!

Check out this handy little PDF file:

http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

I keep a copy of it folded up in my wallet just in case someone starts giving me trouble. Of course, this little thing isn't meant to be a one-stop solution to everything, but it does do a good job providing a nice little primer.

Last edited by Shawn McCalip; May 28th, 2008 at 04:22 PM. Reason: Greg got there first
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Old May 28th, 2008, 04:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Greg Boston View Post
A common misconception is that the laws and rights regarding photography have somehow changed after 9-11. They haven't. Below is a link to a document that I always recommend when these questions come up. How much or how little you decide to stand up for yourself in any given situation is up to you.

http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

-gb-
Whether the laws are different or not, I basically meant to just use some common sense when out in public. It's understandable for police to hassle you if you're shooting at a public place like say a bridge or city hall.
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Old May 28th, 2008, 09:57 PM   #7
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FYI - here's an Aussie site relevant to our laws

http://www.4020.net/words/photorights.php

interesting reading, especially the lack of a bill or rights for us
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Old May 29th, 2008, 01:22 PM   #8
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Your State

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dusty Johnson View Post
When I'm filming out in public with my XL2, it always turns some heads. Sometimes those heads belong to security guards and policemen. I've been confronted many times by these people and they always say I need a permit to film out in public.

Is this true?

It seems like it'd be true if I was in a particular store or something, but out on the streets?
California is especially tuned in to the "shooting high quality video in public with out a license" thing because.... well it is the state that invented the movie industry. So much of the laws of that state are written, influenced, or supported by the movie industry. That means lots and lots of red tape. Also the unions come into play (never underestimate them). The Police union helps by making sure SAG union members are involved in a shoot according to the law (which was written and endorsed by the SAG type unions). So that means you apply for a permit. A permit means you have to have X,Y, & Z type of workers on hand for a shoot, some of which are undoubtedly represented by a union, etc.

I'm not completely down on unions, but they make one heck of a barrier of entry for the small operators (who are after all competing with the unions).
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Old May 29th, 2008, 01:58 PM   #9
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As long as you have no one in a union (or putting their real name down on the project) in California at least, you don't have to abide by union shooting regulations. (Except things like child labor laws)

But they definitely do look for you to screw up more.

It felt so shady working on the "Non Union" shoots sometimes as people would change their names and the talent and crew were always ...um... slightly less talented. On the other side, the "Union" shoots I worked on were ridiculously expensive. It's out of control.

But sorry to get off topic, just because you are not part of a union, does not mean that you might or might not need a permit to shoot something. Like people have said, it greatly depends on the location and timing.
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Old May 29th, 2008, 02:51 PM   #10
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Do News Crews Get A Permit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dusty Johnson View Post
When I'm filming out in public with my XL2, it always turns some heads. Sometimes those heads belong to security guards and policemen. I've been confronted many times by these people and they always say I need a permit to film out in public.

Is this true?

It seems like it'd be true if I was in a particular store or something, but out on the streets?
Whenever I hear this I think, then how does the news crew show up to the scene of an accident and not need to apply for a permit, fill out the regulatory forms, environmental impact forms, etc etc etc.
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Old May 29th, 2008, 03:02 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Jason Robinson View Post
Whenever I hear this I think, then how does the news crew show up to the scene of an accident and not need to apply for a permit, fill out the regulatory forms, environmental impact forms, etc etc etc.
very simple...freedom of the press. Instead of having a film permit, they have press credentials.
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Old June 3rd, 2008, 10:57 AM   #12
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I also was under the impression that unless you're placing a tripod or other production equipment on the ground, you wouldn't necessarily need a permit. I've shot stuff in the Seattle area with no hassel, even for a music video, but perhaps I just lucked out. But I remember going to a seminar locally in Seattle about independant filmmaking, and the speaker from the Seattle Film Office was asked that question, and her response was pretty much - "as long as you don't place a tripod...., etc.." I remember whn I first got my XL2, I went to Mulkiteo WA where the Ferry goes out from, and I was doing hand held shooting to test my camera, and a police officer came over to me, and I started to think to myself as he's walking toward me, oh boy here we go... but much to my surprise it turned into -"couldn't help noticing your camera, quite impressive, etc..." Whew..... :) One of the great things about the Seattle area is, they want to encourage filmmaking, have low pricing for permits, somnthing like $25.00 (but of course insurance rates is another totally different monster to deal with). And up where I live in Everett, last time I checked, permits were free. And yet another area near Everett (Snohomish / Lake Stevens) there are no permits required! So I guess that definetly supports that one needs to check with their given area on that subject. Some filmmakers might be in for some pleasant surprises.
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Old June 3rd, 2008, 04:20 PM   #13
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What I learned about Insurance and shooting

I don't know about the tripod thing, but if they told you (security) that you need a permit, then you need a permit.

Every area where you want to shoot has a thing called a "Film commission" and you can look them up online. They tell you the location's needs and give you a name to call for help and questions.-- here's the one for LA film commission for example http://www.eidc.com/ and the link to their whole permitting information http://www.eidc.com/html/permit_application___info.html

I shot a non union short, and called the city where I live to ask if I needed a permit to shoot in my house. After the man finished laughing, he told me most folks just don't ask and they shoot. But now that you asked-- yes you do. Apparently the law is that you need a permit to shoot everywhere. and the prices of permits vary. From 150 in a private residence. To 450, on a public street, park, etc. there's even more if you're in the county of Los Angeles, and also for public parks (like forests and whatnot) Also, if you shoot on the street, you have to rent policemen (at around 70 bucks per hour) One for each end of the street, and also insurance at a specific amount naming the area you are shooting in as part of the insured so they don't get sued if something happens and someone decides you, the filmmaker cannot pay them enough (deep pockets theory)

On the upside, there are places that actually want folks to shoot in them so they have little or no permit fee (Kern county or Palmdale) for example-- but if you're shooting on the street, you might still need a policeman and the insurance. Basically, the city doesn't want to be sued, even if they're being generous.

Its up to you wether or not you want to break the law and risk getting shut down (which is what happened to a friend of mine who was shooting in their house in west hollywood, the police showed up and shut them down.)

It was a royal pain in the rear end, but I am glad I learned to do it the right way, then I didn't have the whole "looking over my shoulder" thing going on. (and the city where I shot in my residence actually was kind enough to waive the permit fee)
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Old June 6th, 2008, 09:53 PM   #14
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I don;t use permits.

Hey what's going on,

I shoot music videos alot in parts of Virginia (Hampton, Virginia Beach, Richmond, Norfolk) and have been approached by cops more than I would like to count.

But I have never been asked to stop shooting and I have even had a few cops let me use their vehicles in music videos.

As long as your not stopping traffic, bothering perdestrians, and things like that you should be straight shooting without a permit.

If a cop comes up and bothers you, I say things like "Oh, were just shooting a little video and well be done shooting in about 20 minutes" And then I keep shooting until I am done wether it takes 20 minutes or 8 hours.

you just gotta know how to talk to em.

I hope this helps!

Jamal "Jag" Johnson
Http://www.MusicVideoTrainingCenter.com
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Old June 7th, 2008, 10:14 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Jamal M. Johnson View Post
Hey what's going on,

I shoot music videos alot in parts of Virginia (Hampton, Virginia Beach, Richmond, Norfolk) and have been approached by cops more than I would like to count.

But I have never been asked to stop shooting and I have even had a few cops let me use their vehicles in music videos.

As long as your not stopping traffic, bothering perdestrians, and things like that you should be straight shooting without a permit.

If a cop comes up and bothers you, I say things like "Oh, were just shooting a little video and well be done shooting in about 20 minutes" And then I keep shooting until I am done wether it takes 20 minutes or 8 hours.

you just gotta know how to talk to em.

I hope this helps!

Jamal "Jag" Johnson
Http://www.MusicVideoTrainingCenter.com
It depends on where you are, Jamal. Some locations regulate filmmakers very closely, some a little bit, some not at all. You've been lucky to work in areas where the regulations are apparently very loose or non-existent. Try the same approach in Los Angeles or New York and you'll likely find it a completely different experience.
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