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Old January 11th, 2005, 04:21 PM   #1
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Film Permits: Your Experiences?

I've had a horrific time trying to get film permits in Pinellas and Hillsboro county Florida. The staff are a burden, they want $1M in liability insurance (You're a student? Go away!) and for me to pay for X amount of off-duty cops. Also, I refuse to give a copy of the script for THEIR APPROVAL. What if they disapprove? Will they refuse the permit?

What horror stories have you had trying to get a film permit?
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Old January 11th, 2005, 04:49 PM   #2
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The $1M liability insurance thing is pretty standard. Actually, as a student it should be easier for you. The people that really get hosed are the little guys, who don't have a studio or large production company behind them. As a student, your college/highschool should have insurance that you can use for your production - this is usually a standard thing.

Other than that, it should be pretty smooth sailing. I don't think my area's film commission asks for script approval or anything like that, but I'm sure they're trying to make sure you're not making porn. They're also possibly trying to determine from your script if you actually need proof of greater than $1M insurance, because if your script has any pyrotechnics, etc., they require double or more insurance. They also need to know about parking concerns where you're shooting, and police and emergency staff you may need. This is all understandable, but if you're like me, it's overkill for our little indie projects.

The actual frustrating thing when working with film commissions is that usually you're dealing with people who have their hands (and minds) tied by state-level red-tape. For example, I remember suggesting very politely that they would get a lot less people illegally shooting if they just set up some connections with insurance companies so that the filmmaker doesn't have to go hunting. And perhaps even finding ways to stop letting low-level indie filmmakers slip through the cracks - but I was just told to take it up with Tallahassee.
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Old January 11th, 2005, 05:02 PM   #3
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Houston film commision (Rick Ferguson) is a pretty good guy. He'll let you know who to talk to for different permits. The city is okay, you don't have to pay except for using city parks. You need to hire an off duty cop if you are in a street, which makes sense. The city worked with us in parking downtown, securing meters for low cost, and bagging them in advance. Stuff like that.

The million dollar policy is pretty standard anywhere.
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Old January 11th, 2005, 05:04 PM   #4
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Actually, I'm not a student, I just asked the local film commission if students were exempt. They said no.
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Old January 11th, 2005, 06:52 PM   #5
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Students aren't exempt because, no matter how you slice it, dead is dead!

The liability issue applies to everyone. Someone can be injured on your shoot just as easily as someone on a multi-million dollar epic.

Remember that most of these film commission people spend their work week indoors, talking to all manner of lunatics. With all due respect, to them, you are just another voice on the phone...and a voice with NO money to boot!

Sometimes, if your scenes are quick and not very involved, (and I'm not advocating this), it is easier to do "hit-and runs" with your cast and crew.

Always remember: It's easier to beg forgiveness than to get permission! (You didn't hear this from me)

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Old January 11th, 2005, 09:51 PM   #6
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And the single best piece of advice that helps me to no end... have at least one police officer friend with whom you can pull favors. Remember - who is it that enforces permits? The po-lice! If you're in with the cops, you're in with the law.

Also, in my town, if you're shooting documentary or news style footage, you don't need a permit.
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Old January 12th, 2005, 07:58 AM   #7
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Hey welcome to sunny Florida, where the bureaucrats have taken over in every sense. It's not just film, and it's not just out-of-staters. But when you have a state where half the people are retired, and the other half are from somewhere else, governments and non-accountability have run rampant. OTOH, we do have a lot if sunshine.

Try to find an elected official and see if they will help you.
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Old January 13th, 2005, 01:15 PM   #8
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I'm from the Pasco county. Just above Hillsborough/Pinellas county. If you want to shoot "Downtown" scenes, just hit Tampa early on a Sunday morning. It's like a ghosttown.

If you keep it down to a dull roar and shoot fast, I really can't imagine ANYONE here seeing you and giving a damn about it.
Here in New Port Richey, there was a 35mm film camera sitting in front of a local pub pointing at the street and everyone just ignored it. Including me.

If you do get stopped, lie. Tell them your shooting a home video just for fun. Tell them it's for an art project. At most, I think they would just tell you to clear off. I would go with the "ask frogiveness" approach around here.
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Old January 13th, 2005, 04:11 PM   #9
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What really stinks is that Florida, one place you figure would be on everyone's top-10 list to film at, has no indie permit exception like some other states.

Shooting in a public park or public beach is illegal, even if it's a home video. The worst law of all is the one that says no one, NO ONE can shoot a beach at night. WHY?

Unwelcome, useless laws.

If I didn't like so deep in the middle of Florida, I'd gladly cross the border to Georgia, pay $15 for a day permit and go crazy.
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Old January 13th, 2005, 05:06 PM   #10
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I'm no legal expert -- far from it -- but I just can't imagine how such laws can survive in America? Is it really true that it is illegal for anyone to take videos (and presumably still pictures as well, then???) in public in Florida? How can it possibly be that a state government makes criminals of virtually every citizen...after all, who hasn't shot pictures or a video out of doors?

Not as a legal opinion, but what I think of as common sense: if you're out in public and not impeding anyone else from going about their business, the state has no business regulating/inhibiting a person's harmless pursuits. Whether originally well-intentioned or not, such a law could easily be construed as one of the seeds of oppression.

Hey, though, if this is true -- there may be an up side! All the beautiful people can go running around naked on the beach for our viewing pleasure. As long as nobody in the vicinity has an "imaging permit" there is no solid proof of public nudity! (Deny, deny, deny!)

;-)
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Old January 13th, 2005, 06:44 PM   #11
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WTF?

Rob and Peter,

All due respect to both of you...HUH and WHAT THE HUH?

I live in Florida and have absolutely NO idea what you guys are talking about.

Home videos? Shooting a beach at night? ILLEGAL?

C'mon people, you can't be that gullible. I guess now we need carry permits and security clearances for our home video cameras!

Please enlighten me and tell me where to find this law...in writing...on an official site, or is this just another, blown out of proportion conspiracy theory?

A very confused and troubled, RB

P.S.

Peter, we do have clothing optional beaches here in Miami, so I don't think that is really an issue. ;)
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Old January 13th, 2005, 08:31 PM   #12
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Yannetta :
Shooting in a public park or public beach is illegal, even if it's a home video. The worst law of all is the one that says no one, NO ONE can shoot a beach at night. WHY?

-->>>

UH OH! I shot about an hour of footage on the beach and about 30 minutes in a park in Orlando!!! WHere do I turn myself in? What type of fine/jail time am I looking at?

I shot video in a hotel swimming pool while drunk, after midnight, after hopping a fence too... I hope my cellmate is pretty.
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Old January 13th, 2005, 08:52 PM   #13
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DEAD MAN SHOOTING!!!

I don't know Dylan, as cute as you are, all the other inmates on Cell Block C will be battling for you!

Shooting a pool drunk and after hours...you could ride the lightning on "Old Sparky"!

RB
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Old January 13th, 2005, 10:22 PM   #14
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Hey Rick,

Yeah, I lived in Florida in the early '90s and managed to stay out of jail doing much more foolhardy things than taking video on the beach!

More seriously, yeah, as I joked about above, I find it difficult to believe this can be for real. If there is some kernel of truth to it, though, I'd like to see the legal references....which would then need to go straight to the ACLU! ;-)

Ok, so this doesn't get out of control...time for the claims to be validated with factual, verifiable references.
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Old January 14th, 2005, 10:16 AM   #15
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<<<-- Originally posted by Pete Bauer : If there is some kernel of truth to it, though, I'd like to see the legal references....which would then need to go straight to the ACLU! ;-) -->>>

I agree with you! Want to be quoted some of the silly laws? Here's your contact:

Jennifer Parramore
Film Commissioner
St. Petersburg-Clearwater Film Commission
14450 46th Street N., Suite 108
Clearwater, FL 33762

The things she told me about Florida laws pertaining to filming with and without permits scared the hell out of me.
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