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Old December 16th, 2007, 07:12 PM   #1
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Film Permit?

Hello All,

Okay, so I am trying to start a small production company for several short films and in the future, low budget features.

Someone mentioned film permits to me, and I thought it was something I should look into, as some of our projects may very well be in everyday, public places.

I looked at the City of Phoenix Film Permit info, and I quote:
"Any filming on city of Phoenix property requires a film permit and coordination through the Film Office.
The requirements are a certificate of insurance naming the 'city of Phoenix as additional insured' for $1 million and the $100 permit fee."

First of all, am I looking at the wrong thing? Is this only for filming in PHOENIX, because we won't be filming downtown or technically in the Phoenix area.

Second, I guess what I'm trying to ask is, do I NEED a film permit? What would be the case scenario where I'd need one? I have location release forms, aren't those enough? Where does my work end and the legality come into play, if ever?

-Alex
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Old December 16th, 2007, 10:50 PM   #2
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While I am not 100% sure, I believe that a film permit is required only if you are shooting on PUBLIC PROPERTY. Filming on privately owned property such as a building or restaurant is not public. Public means land owned by the city, so if you are filming on a road, for example, then you need a permit. If you are in a privately owned park and have a release form from the owner, you do not need one.
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Old December 16th, 2007, 11:12 PM   #3
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However while on private property obviously make sure you get a release from the owner so after the film is made he doesnt comeback and demand ridiculous monetary fees for the use of his land.
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Old December 16th, 2007, 11:22 PM   #4
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Right. I have the release forms for those kind of things. So basically if I was to film on a neighborhood street I would legally need to have a permit?
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Old December 17th, 2007, 04:51 AM   #5
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Right. I have the release forms for those kind of things. So basically if I was to film on a neighborhood street I would legally need to have a permit?
Why don't you just call up the film commission that has jurisdiction over the areas where you plan to film, describe what you're planning on doing, and ask 'em rather than getting guesses from third parties? Be sure to get specific as to the scale of your production - there's a big difference on the impact to an area between a crew of 3 and a cast of 2 working with a single DV camera on a set of sticks and a major feature production with 3 semi's and a dozen cube vans of gear, 3 land yacht dressing rooms, a honey wagon, a genny truck, and a commissary. Not that we are reluctant to help, but unless someone online happens to have shot recently in PHoenix anything we offer is just going to be guesswork.
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Last edited by Steve House; December 17th, 2007 at 09:28 AM.
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Old December 17th, 2007, 12:53 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Nick Royer View Post
While I am not 100% sure, I believe that a film permit is required only if you are shooting on PUBLIC PROPERTY. Filming on privately owned property such as a building or restaurant is not public. Public means land owned by the city, so if you are filming on a road, for example, then you need a permit. If you are in a privately owned park and have a release form from the owner, you do not need one.
I guess that depends on where you live. I live in White Plains, NY (25mi north of NYC) and a film permit is required even if you are filming on you own property. This sucks, but it really sucks because (unless you are a student), the fees are $750 per day plus 5 million insurance policy. Yup, my taxes are going to good use! Needless to say that that would have been my entire budget. Believe me, I triple checked to make sure that if I shot inside my own house would I need a permit. And you guessed it... I would. They only have several categories you can fall into, and whether your budget is $20,000 or $20,000,000 the fees are the same. They said I could try to talk to someone, but I figured I just let it go and do it anyway. Why draw more attention if they said "No." I've also re-arranged to shoot most of the film in my old hometown (upstate NY; no fee's or permits required).

So, sorry city, state, county... no money from me. I love how they can group me into the same category as a major player.

The buisness side of filmmaking is tougher than making the film itself!
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Old December 17th, 2007, 01:40 PM   #7
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I guess that depends on where you live. I live in White Plains, NY (25mi north of NYC) and a film permit is required even if you are filming on you own property.
WHAT?!

No way! Wow...
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Old December 17th, 2007, 08:31 PM   #8
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I guess that depends on where you live. I live in White Plains, NY (25mi north of NYC) and a film permit is required even if you are filming on you own property.
That can't be right. There's no way anyone can impose permits on your own property.
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Old December 17th, 2007, 09:41 PM   #9
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It's true. I couldn't believe it myself. I had to make two additional phone calls to verify that info. I was even more shocked when I got the forms and it was $750 a day. WTF.
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Old December 19th, 2007, 10:41 AM   #10
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It's true. I couldn't believe it myself. I had to make two additional phone calls to verify that info. I was even more shocked when I got the forms and it was $750 a day. WTF.

note to self,
never film in White Plains, NY
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Old December 20th, 2007, 12:55 PM   #11
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note to self,
never film in White Plains, NY
Ironically, according to my zipcode I live in White Plains, but I pay my town taxes to Greenburgh (Greenburgh has no post office). So my home really resides in Greenburgh and they are the ones who control the film permits. If I really 'lived' in White Plains, then I wouldn't have to pay anything in permits (only permission from the city as long as I wasn't stopping/blocking traffic).

Greenburgh is going off the 'we're a beautiful town and everyone wants to film here' attitude... last I checked there weren't any films being filmed here.

So, note to everyone. Do not film in Greenburgh (at least until someone at town hall comes to their senses and has more reasonable permit fees).

So difficult.
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Old December 22nd, 2007, 07:37 AM   #12
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Sounds like you live in White planes to me. That's crazy, $750, is that for a day or for the entire shoot in the town?
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Old December 22nd, 2007, 01:36 PM   #13
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Sounds like you live in White planes to me. That's crazy, $750, is that for a day or for the entire shoot in the town?
That's for each and every day (so it would cost me $15,000 for a 20 day shoot). And there are alot of restrictions that go along with that (for example, you can't shoot in one location for more than 20 days in any given 12 month period, you can't shoot before 8am and after 7pm without further fees, etc.). Plus they impose fines for failing to get permits or failing to follow the set procedures: $500 for each infraction plus possible 15 days jail. WTF.

I'm going on the assumption that I live in White Plains too. Most of my shooting is done around here anyway, so I'll be heading upstate for the rest: no fees, and they're happy to have you there.
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Old December 22nd, 2007, 05:24 PM   #14
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You need to have insurance, like rental insurance if the gear is busted or stolen, liability if someone trips and falls and likely worker's comp if a cast or crew mate gets hurt. At least, those are the rules in Florida for a permit on public property.

Palm Beach County has free one-stop permitting, which is awesome (except the island of Palm Beach--they're expensive and have their own film commission). Miami now charges like $150 for each permit.

Ever notice how most reality shows aren't done in L.A. and other major cities? Permitting is too difficult.

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Old December 22nd, 2007, 07:50 PM   #15
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That's for each and every day (so it would cost me $15,000 for a 20 day shoot).
That's more than I've paid for my past 10 projects...times 15
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