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Old February 21st, 2007, 12:32 PM   #1
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Filming the White House

I am planning on getting a few simple shots of the White House exterior. I am afraid to go to the park right outside of it and set up a tripod to shoot, because I know the cops all over the place will come up to me and tell me to stop. According to this:

http://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/permits.htm

It is ok for non commercial purposes to film the white house, but setting up a tripod will immediately bring attention to myself. It's unfair that tons of tourists can be walking around filming all they want, yet anyone with a tripod is immediately called out. However, knowing that this will probably happen to me, should I just tell the cops I am shooting for non commercial use (shoot first ask permission later), or should I try and call the park service to get a permit? I feel like it will cost money to get a permit to shoot because it is considered a national park, and I read that the park service will charge money for issuing a permit. Any ideas?

Thanks in advance.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 01:07 PM   #2
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i've seen camera's with tripods taking photo's of white house - usually one or 2 persons that look like tourist with small tripod - they set up take the photo and move on ..
now if you have a large tripod with a large video camera & more then 2 total persons or you stay in one spot for more then 10 min - then you stand a good chance of having police/rangers approach you ..
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Old February 21st, 2007, 01:10 PM   #3
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Yea, I figured doing it very quickly and alone would facilitate not getting bothered by the authorities. I have a small inconspicuous tripod I can use, but my camera is a Canon xh a1, so while it is not huge, it definitely looks professional compared to a regular tourist cam.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 01:12 PM   #4
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Rent a room at the hotel washington, they have an outdoor terrace on the roof, you could shoot from there. Be advised the secret service agents on the roof of the white house will see you shooting from there. So I wouldn't shoot for too long. I bring this up because I shot the hotel for them and we got footage from that terrace to show the view of the white house from there.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 01:33 PM   #5
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Even when using video rather than film, you might want to use the verb "film" rather than "shoot" in this context. ;)
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Old February 21st, 2007, 01:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst
Even when using video rather than film, you might want to use the verb "film" rather than "shoot" in this context. ;)
LOL I have to remember that all the time here at work... I have to "tape" rather than "shoot" judges. ;-)


I would think being right out in the open and not trying to be "covert" might be the best way to go. You truly don't want to look like you are hiding something, or doing something utoward. look like you know what you are doing and have every right to be there. ;)
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Old February 21st, 2007, 02:47 PM   #7
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Apply for a permit from Natl. Park Service. You've already got the url.
OTW shoot handheld.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 03:12 PM   #8
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I guess I will call the park service and see what they say. I can ask them if it is *ok* to film some video on a tripod for personal purposes without a permit. If they say no and the permit process is too expensive then I will just go shoot it and hope that the police will be nice or ignore me.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 04:05 PM   #9
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You don't need a special use permit.

What the Park Service has in mind when they say commercial is something like a full-blown commercial shoot with a crew, talent, lighting etc. that has the potential to disrupt traffic flow etc. that they might have to detail officers to deal with.

Does this mean someone in authority won't walk up to you and ask you what you are doing? No. If asked just explain what you are doing and who you are and it will be fine, really. It's still a free country and it's still ok to take pictures of the White House.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 04:35 PM   #10
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Thanks Peter.

What you say makes the most sense to me. I will just go there and film it and the worst that can happen is what you said - that an officer will ask me what I am doing. They won't fine me or arrest me or anything crazy.
A friend of mine did something simliar near the capitol, and the police came and told her she had to stop filming (not sure why, it was just one camera on a tripod). She just said it was for a student production and they let her finish the shot.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 06:26 PM   #11
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The U.S. Capitol is different than the White House, of course. The Congress is a separate branch of the federal government, and the Capitol has its own police force and its own rules.

You will see news reporters with tripods in the vicinity of the Capitol, but it's likely they are accredited journalists with the House or Senate press gallery. A summary of the Senate rules for journalists can be found here:

http://www.senate.gov/galleries/radiotv/rules.htm

Note that the Capitol Police require a permit for the use of a tripod.
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 07:33 AM   #12
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Ah I see. Makes sense then.
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 12:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Crosbie
Any ideas?

Thanks in advance.
Get the regs - there may be some loopholes. If it doesn't say a particular type of camera support is prohibited (say, a mono-pod or shoulder brace), then you'd have a pretty nice argument...

Good luck.

Also, there's got to be a tone of stock footage available from the various houses - for cheap I'm guessing. You might want to look into this...

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