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Old December 8th, 2009, 12:33 AM   #1
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Do you need to get permission to shoot in the streets of a city?

My question specifically refers to this case: if I get away with shooting in the streets of Miami without disturbing anybody, I finish my short film and Im fortunate that somebody is interested in distributing it... I already know I need to provide releases from the actors involved, as well as private locations but are they going to ask me "please provide us with your permission from the city of Miami for shooting in its streets"?? or is there a risk that at some point in the future anybody from the city would call me and say "hey where is your permission for shooting in our streets?"

I perfectly understand that if you have a big crew and there is risk of disturbing the peace of a public place you need permission, thats not what Im refering to, Im refering if you shoot with a small crew, fast and you get the shots without bothering anybody, do you still need permission from the city to release a film in this cases?

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Old December 8th, 2009, 11:45 AM   #2
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Here is an old thread that touches on your issue.

Permission while shooting in public?

I'm not a lawyer; I don't even play one on the internet so take this with the value of the electrons used: The permit is required by the city. I would think, if you evaded the authorities during production, you can do whatever you want with the footage.

But, why not ask the distributor?
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Old December 8th, 2009, 12:13 PM   #3
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I read the thread, but the problem with these threads is that the discussion always moves to the fact of things that "could" happen during the shooting or if you get people in the background. I already know all that and that is not the specific point of my question.

The reason why I ask is because Ive been shooting TV commercials for almost 10 years and I have shot around the city MANY times, I have never asked permission to anybody but at the same time I always kept it short and never called attention to myself while doing it (just the model/models and myself operating the camera) I never shoot any specific landamarks, just generic places and never had any problems following this low profile rule. But I understand that nobody really monitors these tv commercials especially if you do it in generic places, but I want to know how different is when you are trying to distribute a film or short film.

I already know about not shooting people who are not signed in, I already know that I shouldnt cause any disturbances in the area. My specific question is: If I get away with shooting everything I need on the streets without bothering anybody, do I STILL need permissions from the city if the film will be distributed?

Thanks!
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Old December 8th, 2009, 01:29 PM   #4
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Every large city has a film commision. What I would do is call the and say you are interested in shooting at such and such location, what are the regulations. They most likely have it posted on thier web site. Some cities don't mind, but some require a permit the moment your tripod touches the ground.
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Old December 8th, 2009, 08:56 PM   #5
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If I ask the film comission I am "CERTAIN" thet will ask me to file this and that and that and all of a sudden I will need to ask 20 different people to move a finger. My question is still the same, if I "get away" with shooting in a city without anybody noticing, do I legally need to provide an "authorization from the city" to release the film?
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Old December 8th, 2009, 09:12 PM   #6
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Take this for what it's worth.... I am not a lawyer, but I have been in P.R. and Public Affairs for many years. What is the short about?? Are you shooting a "Roger and Me" in Miami?? IF so the City and it's lawyers are going to come after you with everything they have to keep your movie out of the hands of the masses. Now if you are shooting a story that makes Miami look like a Utopian paradise.... I would be willing to bet that they would let it all slide. If it turns out that you win some awards/get major recognition they might even want to take some credit for helping you with your story by providing you such a pristine place to make it. Is your short somewhere in-between these two ideas???? You are the only one that can make the call for what you feel comfortable with. Can they come after you? Yes. Will they? Maybe... maybe not.
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Old December 8th, 2009, 09:17 PM   #7
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One other thing, can you claim 1st amendment rights and freedom of speech. Yes, and they can tie you up in court, right or wrong, for years costing you every cent you would ever hope to earn. If you are shooting something that will piss off the City Counsel go get your permits, if you are shooting something that they will not care about or like.... Up to you.
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Old December 9th, 2009, 12:44 AM   #8
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Thank you Jerry I think you answered my question, my plan is to produce 2 or 3 shorts and see what doors that might open, if nothing happens then I will produce an independent film.

Basically I wanted to know what I can and what I can't do BEFORE I commit to an idea that will be too hard to shoot and the logistics turn into a nightmare. I dont want to ask permissions except from my actors and private locations, it has been my experience while doing commercials for so many years that the moment you start asking permissions to the city or film comissions they start asking for this, for that and like I said all of a sudden you need to ask permission to move a finger. I prefer to work under a low profile and under the limitations of being low profile but having complete freedom in what I want to do. If I ever do something "bigger" then Im sure I will have to ask all the permissions necessary and deal with it, but I dont think I want to do that for now for these projects, honestly it would take the creative fun out of it.

I will keep my story in check and make sure I dont make the city look bad, if Im lucky and something good happens with the film, like you said they might or might not give me a call but at least chances are going to be lower if my film doesnt make the city look bad, Im willing to take those chances so I dont have to deal with nightmares of city bureaucracy.

Thank you.
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Old December 9th, 2009, 08:07 AM   #9
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Rich, don't get pissed, but by asking this question it is obvious that you are not ready to produce your film.

Honestly think about what you are asking, and where you are asking it!

My advise, hire a lawyer, and stop posting questions about how you can produce your film in Miami illegally, which shows intent before the fact, which the city of Miami could use against you when they so choose.

If you can't afford a legal consultation, you can't afford to produce your movie!
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Old December 9th, 2009, 08:13 AM   #10
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The real snag is that of course you can always 'wing it' - and you might get away with it - but a man and a small camera could be a keen amateur, and hardly worthy of official attention - however, more people and more kit means that the powers that be get to hear about it and if you're in a place where permits are the norm - expect a visit. Like most things in life - to do things properly takes good planning - for every eventuality. Cutting corners often works, but what happens if it doesn't? Just a gamble really, isn't it.

Do you have the 6 Ps in the US?
Proper Planning Prevents P1ss Poor Performance.

I like that one!
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Old December 9th, 2009, 08:25 AM   #11
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I thought you had already shot this masterpiece.

Since you haven't, this is a no brainer--get the permit!
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Old December 9th, 2009, 09:56 AM   #12
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Thank you for your opinions and input
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Old December 10th, 2009, 06:16 PM   #13
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Rich,
I know the NY film commission has a website to tell you the rules for the city so you don't have to contact them to get information about what is permitted. This should be useful to checkout Filmiami.org - Miami-Dade County Film & Entertainment Office
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Old December 12th, 2009, 08:30 PM   #14
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Rich... I think the Q is whether they could, if they cared to, mount the challenge and thus hinder your release of something shot without a permit when one might be legally required. I think the answer is that they could seek injunctive relief and a court "might" grant it.

I also agree with the poster who said it likely depends on content.

I also sympathize with the lack of a desire to enmesh into the beauracracy called film commissions etc... (let's see, a million dollars liability, police standby charges, and, and, and...)

It is a balancing act, and not risk free. Your call.

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Old December 15th, 2009, 08:09 PM   #15
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Well, think about it from a photographers standpoint... you can basically shoot anything you want as long as you're on public property... aka the street or sidewalk. City's DO have permit systems in place, but I'm pretty sure that is for situations where you would be shooting with a large crew and blocking off streets and otherwise disturbing pedestrians.
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