Re: protest nyc's proposed film and photo law

From: Chuck Kleinhans (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Aug 04 2007 - 09:28:25 PDT

On Aug 3, 2007, at 6:51 PM, Katherin McInnis wrote:

>> How is it that someone filming in public is exercising "free speech"
>> unless the filmmaker is talking and making a speech while filming?
>> Does the First Amendment mention creation or just delivery?
> the supreme court has ruled that symbolic expression of ideas -
> such as flag-burning or Hustler - counts as free speech. There is
> no creation/delivery distinction.
> The limits on free speech are inciting violence, "obscenity", etc.
> The government (state, local, etc.) has to show a legitimate reason
> that outweighs the 1st amendment right - this is where parade
> permits come in (traffic mayhem, noise, etc.)
> Katherin McInnis

But wait a minute: burning a flag, in a place where people gather and
can see the act, is a clear effort to communicate some ideas to
people, as is "publishing" a magazine--making ideas publicly
available. The act of taking up part of public space to record
images on film may eventually lead to publication, but the act of
recording image (and sound) itself does not constitute "expression of
ideas." Therefore, filming in public is not "speech"....not yet. It
is preparing for "speech" perhaps--like sewing a flag, or purchasing
one in a store, or doing the editorial work to prepare a magazine for
printing, and eventual distribution.

It hardly seems unreasonable to me to have to inform authorities if
you are going to have a crew of 5 and their equipment and 3 actors in
a public location for 2 hours. Especially if you are taking up
sidewalk, plaza, or park space. It actually seems like common sense
to do so, so they know what you are doing. Just as you might notify
and get the agreement in advance of a merchant if you were going to
be filming in front of their store. Where I teach we work we expect
students to notify the police of what's going on (a result in part of
a incident some years back when students were filming a chase
sequence with characters running around with plastic, but realistic,
toy guns and people in the neighborhood only saw people with guns and
called the police who responded with weapons drawn).

My complaint was that in this discussion some folks seem to be making
absurd categorical demands....presuming that "artists" should not
face any of the constraints on ordinary citizens.

The 30 minute "rule" doesn't seem onerous if you think of some of the
NYC experimental films that were probably shot well within 30 minutes
to set up each shot, or even a location sequence:

In the Street
The Wonder Ring
On the Bowery
Scotch Tape
What Mozart Saw on Mulberry Street
Lost Lost Lost
Rules of the Road
The B/Side

Come to think of it, some great work has been done by filming the
public space of the street while remaining inside: Rimmer's Real
Italian Pizza, Gehr's Still, Sift, and Untitled, Part One,1981, and
Peter Hutton's New York Portrait (I, II, III).

Chuck Kleinhans

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