Filming permits in nyc

From: Ed Halter (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jul 18 2007 - 13:03:46 PDT

Some of you may have been forwarded versions of this already...

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From: Howard Weinberg <email suppressed>
Organization: Priority Productions, Inc.
Reply-To: <email suppressed>
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2007 15:36:46 -0400
To: Ed <email suppressed>

Hi Ed,

You now have until August 3rd, to protest the city's proposed regulations
that would prohibit videotaping and filming in the public street without a
permit and insurance, under all but the most stringent conditions. Below
you will find a variety of ways in which you may get involved. First, a
Daily News Editorial against these regulations!

Lights, camera, inaction

Tuesday, July 3rd 2007, 4:00 AM

Picture this: A tourist with a minicam waiting on line at the Empire State
Building passes the time videotaping family members in front of the landmark
- and gets a summons for filming without a permit. If some of City Hall's
lesser lights have their way, scenes like that could be coming soon to a
sidewalk near you.
The Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, headed by Katherine
Oliver, has promulgated rules that would require anyone who is in a group of
people and uses a camera in public for, basically, anything more than a
quick shot here or there to get advance permission and to carry $1 million
in liability insurance.
The regulations, drawn up with the complicity of the Law Department, are, in
a word, nuts. They address a nonexistent threat to the public weal. They
were written as if small bands of rogue photographers were running amok. And
they won't withstand court challenge unless the cops come down equally on
everyone taking pictures, including mom and dad filming junior and pals at
the playground.
The reason for this nonsense is that in May 2005, a few overzealous cops
stopped a documentary filmmaker who was videotaping taxis near the MetLife
Building. They detained him, confiscated his camera and told him, among
other things, that he needed a permit. The New York Civil Liberties Union
filed suit and discovered that nowhere among all the materials promoting New
York as filmmaker heaven did Oliver's office define who needed a permit and
who didn't.
So the bureaucrats wrote rules, and beginning in September two or more
people with a camera in one area for a half-hour, or five or more people
with a camera and - gasp! - a tripod in one place for more than 10 minutes
will have to have a permit for their "photo shoot." And don't forget that $1
million insurance policy.
Herewith a startling statement: Our friends at the NYCLU, with whom we
disagree so frequently, are right. (Hell doth freeze over.) The regs are
boneheaded. The police already have the power to stop people, with or
without cameras, from blocking sidewalks and streets. And even city lawyers
say upfront that the rules will be selectively enforced. Tourists with
camcorders will get a pass, and those unable to afford $1 million in
insurance will be granted waivers.
The film police need supervision by an adult, someone like Mayor Bloomberg.
DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT whom to contact, as well as the proposed law
itself; please forward it to anyone you think would be interested. In
addition, you can find here
the NYCLUıs official press release on the subject. If you have any
additional questions please contact me at email suppressed or our associate
legal director Chris Dunn at email suppressed (or either of us by phone at
212-607-3300). Thanks again for your feedback; weıve really got the cityıs
ears open on this. -- Rob Wile
"Diana C. Lee" email suppressed> Wed, 18
Jul 2007 11:46:53 -0400 Subject: FW: NYC Threatens First Amendment &

This Thursday members of the film/photography/activist/etc communities will
come together to brainstorm ideas for creative actions to take place before
the close of the public comment period on August 3rd. On Sunday, arts
organization Not An Alternative will host a day of props production to
produce visuals for a demonstration against the regulations.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thursday, July 19, 7pm ­ 9pm

Brainstorm and Planning Session
Sunday, July 21, 1pm-6pm

Props Production and Art-Making

The Change You Want To See Gallery and Convergence Stage <>
84 Havemeyer St., at Metropolitan Ave
Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11211
Directions: <>
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Friday, July 27th, 6:30 pm
Rally for the 1st Amendment
Union Square
People are invited to turn out to make a statement about New York City's
laws and regulations regarding filming, shouting, biking, parading, and
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Original NYTimes article:
PDF of the proposed changes:
NYCLU Response:
> NY1 News
> Class Assignment Lands Two Journalism Students In Jail
> March 23, 2007
> When two journalism students decided to do a story about crime in a Manhattan
> neighborhood, they never dreamed they would end up in a jail cell. But that is
> exactly what happened to them Thursday night. NY1ıs Roger Clark filed the
> following report.
> When Columbia Journalism students Gabriella Worman and Andrea DeMarco began
> shooting video of the 33rd precinct Thursday Night for a class assignment on
> the crime rate in Washington Heights they had no idea they would be spending
> some time behind bars.
> "I never expected I'd be inside a jail cell," said Worman.
> But that is where Worman and her classmate spent around three hours.
> She says the trouble began when they entered a lot behind the precinct to
> shoot video of police cars. Several officers came along and told them they
> were not permitted there. Worman says they left the lot and continued
> shooting from the sidewalk.
> But then Worman says another group of officers showed up in a van.
> "I just explained that two cops had approached us, but now I'm outside the
> gates and I am permitted to be outside the gates and he said well you are not
> permitted to shoot cop cars for security reasons," recalled Worman.
> Worman says the two were taken inside the station house where officers
> confiscated their camera, cell phones, and personal belongings, and without
> reading them their rights or offering a chance to phone an attorney, put them
> in holding cells.
> "I remember one officer saying Œwe're going to show you a view from the
> inside,ı" said Demarco.
> DeMarco says around three hours later they were released and handed summonses
> for trespassing.
> "Two individuals were issued summonses for trespassing on a department
> parking lot closed to the public where the police vehicles, including
> undercover vehicles, are parked,² said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul J.
> Browne in a statement to NY1.
> The issue of photographing police cars has been a bone of contention in
> recent days after a group encouraged people to post pictures on the web of
> illegally parked law enforcement vehicles. Since 9/11, there also has been an
> ongoing issue of where photographers can take pictures.
> Photographers have been stopped even when shooting in public areas where
> there is no law or regulation forbidding it.
> These two journalism students certainly got more than they bargained for from
> this assignment, and it's a lesson, they say, they never could have learned
> in a classroom.
> "It was one I'd never forget,² said Worman. ³It was interesting. I mean, this
> is something you usually just read about."
> And they would have liked to have kept it that way. -Roger Clark
 And if you are not convinced yet, here's Filmmaker Jem Cohen's take on the
threat to street photography and filmmaking:

Forgive the mass email, but if the above troubles you, please take action
The city quietly released information about the proposed regulations on the
Friday of Memorial Day weekend and many of us missed the notice and
subsequent hearing.
The office is accepting public feedback until August 3, and the rules could
go into effect this summer!

The Mayorıs Office of Film deals primarily with big film shoots (ie.
commercials, features, t.v.) where permits and insurance are,
understandably, a given. However, many photographers and filmmakers carry on
an equally vital tradition in which spontaneous documentation of the urban
environment is at the very heart of our work. Being a street photographer
often means standing in a random location and waiting: for the right
activity, the right light, the break in the traffic; the countless other
unpredictable factors that need to fall into place to make a shot
Permits would have to be obtained for specific dates and times and exact
locations, and the insurance would be out of reach for many individuals.
The fact is that we simply CANNOT predict where, when, and how long we are
going to film or photograph; we CANNOT afford expensive liability insurance
policies; we occasionally NEED to work with other people or to use tripods
to support our gear. (The regulations would, for example, effectively rule
out a great deal of time-lapse photography which depends on tripods and
cannot possibly be done with time limitations of 10 to 30 minutes, as well
as the use of large format still cameras and long lenses).

Especially in the current climate, official clarification of photographerıs
rights could be a positive thing. (Many of us have been shut down by police
or other authorities who do not seem to understand that we DO have rights to
film and photograph in public places). That said, if these regulations go
through, it would invite if not require police to harass or shut down both
professional artists and amateurs. Unfortunately, I believe that we must
see the proposed regulations not only as a blow against New York as a city
that welcomes and inspires art-making (and historical documentation), but as
part of a continuum of broader attacks against civil liberties and free

Please contact the following person immediately and express your concerns.

Julianne Cho
Associate Commissioner
Mayorıs Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting
1697 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
email suppressed
ph: 212.489.6710
fax: 212.307.6237

You may also wish to contact the Mayorıs office.


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