Shoot NYC

I love shooting in New York. I think if you are a filmmaker in New York, it is because you love film. New York crews are the hardest working people. I think I am not alone in this thought since there have been so many productions in New York in recent years.

But now the Mayor’s Office is trying to slip a new law into place. This law would make it harder for amateur photographers and filmmakers. This would effect things like the 72 Hour Shootout where newbie filmmakers decide to run around and make a short film. With this new law in place, these groups would have to get $1 million liability insurance and apply for a permit (which could take up to a month to process). We need to encourage filmmaking from the ground up and not just allow the big commerical productions to capture the energy of New York on celluloid. If this law were in place years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to make a bulk of my short films which were necessary stepping-stones to getting to make the films I do now. If you feel equally outraged, you can contact:

Julianne Cho
Associate Commissioner
Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting
1697 Broadway
New York, NY  10019 
ph: 212.489.6710
fax: 212.307.6237 

(Based on her last name, I am assuming she is Korean. Most likely someone’s parents out there know her parents. Use the “jung”)

From NY Times:

Some tourists, amateur photographers, even would-be filmmakers
hoping to make it big on YouTube could soon be forced to obtain a city
permit and $1 million in liability insurance before taking pictures or
filming on city property, including sidewalks.

New rules
being considered by the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and
Broadcasting would require any group of two or more people who want to
use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour to
get a city permit and insurance.

The same requirements would
apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a
public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes
to set up the equipment.

Julianne Cho, assistant commissioner of
the film office, said the rules were not intended to apply to families
on vacation or amateur filmmakers or photographers.

Nevertheless, the New York Civil Liberties Union
says the proposed rules, as strictly interpreted, could have that
effect. The group also warns that the rules set the stage for selective
and perhaps discriminatory enforcement by police.

“These rules
will apply to a huge range of casual photography and filming, including
tourists taking snapshots and people making short videos for YouTube,”
said Christopher Dunn, the group’s associate legal director.

Dunn suggested that the city deliberately kept the language vague, and
that as a result police would have broad discretion in enforcing the
rules. In a letter sent to the film office this week, Mr. Dunn said the
proposed rules would potentially apply to tourists in places like Times
Square, Rockefeller Center or ground zero, “where people routinely
congregate for more than half an hour and photograph or film.”

The rule could also apply to people waiting in line to enter the Empire State Building or other tourist attractions.

rules define a “single site” as any area within 100 feet of where
filming begins. Under the rules, the two or more people would not
actually have to be filming, but could simply be holding an ordinary
camera and talking to each other.

The rules are intended to set
standards for professional filmmakers and photographers, said Ms. Cho,
assistant commissioner of the film office, but the language of the
draft makes no such distinction.

“While the permitting scheme
does not distinguish between commercial and other types of filming, we
anticipate that these rules will have minimal, if any, impact on
tourists and recreational photographers, including those that use
tripods,” Ms. Cho said in an e-mail response to questions.

Dunn said that the civil liberties union asked repeatedly for such a
distinction in negotiations on the rules but that city officials
refused, ostensibly to avoid creating loopholes that could be exploited
by professional filmmakers and photographers.

City officials
would not confirm that yesterday. But Mark W. Muschenheim, a lawyer
with the city’s law department, which helped draft the rules, said,
“There are few instances, if any, where the casual tourist would be

The film office held a public hearing on the
proposed rules yesterday, but no one attended. The only written
comments the department received were from the civil liberties group,
Ms. Cho said.

Ms. Cho said the office expected to publish a final
version of the rules at the end of July. They would go into effect a
month later.

The permits would be free and applications could be
obtained online, Ms. Cho said. The draft rules say the office could
take up to 30 days to issue a permit, but Ms. Cho said she expected
that most would be issued within 24 hours.

Mr. Dunn says that in addition to the rules being overreaching, they would also create enforcement problems.

everyday person out there with a camcorder is never going to know about
the rules,” Mr. Dunn said. “It completely opens the door to
discriminatory enforcement of the permit requirements, and that is of
enormous concern to us because the people who are going to get pointed
out are the people who have dark skin or who are shooting in certain

The rules were promulgated as a result of just such a case, Mr. Dunn said.

May 2005, Rakesh Sharma, an Indian documentary filmmaker, was using a
hand-held video camera in Midtown Manhattan when he was detained for
several hours and questioned by police.

During his detention, Mr.
Sharma was told he was required to have a permit to film on city
property. According to a lawsuit, Mr. Sharma sought information about
how permits were granted and who was required to have one but found
there were no written guidelines. Nonetheless, the film office told him
he was required to have a permit, but when he applied, the office
refused to grant him one and would not give him a written explanation
of its refusal.

As part of a settlement reached in April, the
film office agreed to establish written rules for issuing permits. Mr.
Sharma could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr. Dunn said
most of the new rules were reasonable. Notably, someone using a
hand-held video camera, as Mr. Sharma was doing, would no longer have
to get a permit.


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