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Old September 9th, 2008, 01:03 PM   #1
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$1,200 Legalities of filming in public, California.

I need to record some street reactions to a start up company's new shoe line. We want to ask people on the beach and on the boardwalk in Hermosa Beach, CA. We hand someone the shoe and ask, "What do you think"? This should take about 15 minutes total and require just me and my XH-A1. These videos will only be used for internal purposes and not distributed to the public.

Hermosa Beach, CA wants me to file a permit and charge me $1,200.

What would you do?
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Old September 9th, 2008, 01:13 PM   #2
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Scott, not meaning to be glib here, but I would consider another locale other than Hermosa Beach.
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Old September 9th, 2008, 01:27 PM   #3
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I hear ya. But no matter where I go they all seem to have Film Permit Fees, ranging from $300 to $1,500 a permit. Should I just fore go this formality and test my luck???
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Old September 9th, 2008, 01:53 PM   #4
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What are the repercussions if you don't have a permit? Arrest and a fine, or just a not-so-polite "move along" from an officer?

Being the anarchist rebel I am, I'd just shoot now and apologize later.
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Old September 9th, 2008, 01:59 PM   #5
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Its one thing to do it as a rebel producer without any economic interests to protect. Its another to shoot a commercial project without permits. Those expenses should be part of your budget, along with insurance coverages protecting you, your client and anyone in harms way.
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Old September 9th, 2008, 02:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Gold View Post
...they all seem to have Film Permit Fees, ranging from $300 to $1,500 a permit.
There's your answer. I would narrow my locations down to those with the lowest fees.
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Old September 9th, 2008, 04:09 PM   #7
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Shoulder with Angel - Find a different locality and pay fee

Shoulder with Demon - Shoot the damn thing gArrrrilla style. I've shot plenty of stuff on the beach and boardwalks with light equipment and even had cops bike on by, waving as they go.
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Old September 9th, 2008, 05:50 PM   #8
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Start up company? Shoot guerilla.

Unless you're going to have lighting and electrical cords that could trip someone. But if it's really just you and your camera, I'd pass on the permit this time out.

There are always filmmakers at Venice Beach with professional gear shooting guerilla B roll and such. At the Venice Pier and the Promenade as well. We've shot interviews for documentaries in the parks in Venice and Santa Monica, as well as a restaurant or two - I've never been question when it was simple rigging. As long as you aren't interrupting people's lives or blocking foot traffic with your gear, they aren't likely to say much. If you're not going to have lights or a boom out there, the police and the city usually don't care - especially if it's handheld work. if you put your camera on a tripod, you're somewhat more likely to be asked to move along.

If you were staging a dramatic scene, or bringing in any kind of light or sound, you'd need to reconsider but if you're just taping informal interviews for non-public use, then I can't see spending that money. The worst thing that is going to happen is that they are going to tell you to shut down. If that happens, go to another beach.
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Old September 9th, 2008, 06:03 PM   #9
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Lori,
Thank you for your reply! I was thinking along the same lines, $1,200 for what I'm planning is just crazy. Thanks again for posting, this forum is great!
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Old September 9th, 2008, 07:06 PM   #10
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Lay it on your client in the agreement. They are to approve and pay all permit fees. If they don't want to pay it, then try the shoot guerilla style.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 04:17 AM   #11
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And if you DO pay a permit fee, make sure you get more than just 15 minutes of material. For that amount of $$$, I'd make darned sure I had plenty of usable footage. You're legal now, take the time to get your money's worth.

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Old September 18th, 2008, 08:47 AM   #12
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It's funny how different seem to handle these things. A friend of mine was shooting a little indie film in the town of Natick, Massachusetts. He said they went to the local police to let them know they would be filming on a residential street.

He said the police not only said, 'fine, thanks for letting us know', but blocked off the street - for free. Didn't ask for insurance or charge a dime. I couldn't believe it when he told me, but he swears it's true. I've certainly spoken to people who have had similar experiences where they don't see too many film crews.

The difference, I suppose, includes the fact that there is far less filming in Natick, Massachusetts than there is probably anywhere in California.
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Old September 18th, 2008, 10:12 AM   #13
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Same here in my small town. A local friend wanted to shoot a "don't text and drive" PSA. The police cordoned off a four-block area, loaned the guy two police cars, had a cop on-site for three hours... and charged him *nothing*. They did it all for good public relations.
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Old September 18th, 2008, 01:21 PM   #14
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I'm in the state capital, and we had the neighboring towns PD play a significant role in a series of training videos we produced on Domestic Violence. Two officers were major characters, their supervisor was in a scene or two. We used their cars, guns, processing, lockup etc. NO permits, fees etc. (I will be forthcoming we are the state judiciary so that might have had some impact, though I did not have direct involvement in getting their participation).

As an individual, I have shot on the boardwalk in spring and summer with no questions asked, much lighter gear than I use here, but I have also shot there with thsi gear, but only DSR250 and tripod.

Wondering in your sit, what would the fine be if they did give you trouble for not having a permit? less than $1200??
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Old September 18th, 2008, 01:25 PM   #15
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Yep, in many ways it makes it a lot harder to film out in California than other places. Back when I was in South Dakota, if you were making a movie, that was uncommon and businesses and public officials would bend over backwards for you.

Out here everyone is making movies, so it's nothing special, and very unfortunate that there are so many regulations.

If this is really a commercial gig, I don't know what the big question is. They should be paying the fee and if they don't, understand that they cannot get footage in the place that they would like.

If you really are a professional you should act like one, and that means making sure you have proper permits. Are you going to put copyrighted music in the piece too just because you probably won't get caught?
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