View Full Version : Documentary Experimental Street Permit in NY?

02-19-2004, 12:46 PM
Hi, we are planning on shooting a small documentary which will involve using a tripod in the city. Since its mostly a student project, I was wondering if anyone knows any info if we need a permit (since we are using a tripod) or if we could get away with it since its a student project...

Ohh if we do need a permit any idea about the $ it would cost to get one and where?

Thanks in advance,

02-20-2004, 07:17 AM
I know NYC is kind of a pain-in-the-A regarding permits, which is understandable since so many films and TV shows are shot there & the city's trying to make a buck off of it.

However, if it's just a student film & you're not blocking traffic or city streets, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. If it's a small crew (less than 10) and you're not doing anything that would attract a huge group of on-lookers (especially ones in uniform), no one is going to suspect someone with a small video camera to be doing anything worthy of a permit.

However, just remember that if you're showing any shop signs, company logos, passersby recognizable on camera, etc. you WILL need release forms for actors and locations. and of course, if you plan on every screening the work on television, in theaters, or selling copies on VHS or DVD, you always risk the city suing you for not having a permit.

But as my old film professor once told me, make the film and if it becomes popular enough to be picked up for distribution, worry about all that stuff then. And if you get sued, great, free publicity for the film!

02-23-2004, 10:19 AM
which is understandable since so many films and TV shows are shot there & the city's trying to make a buck off of it.

Permits are free and the city is not making money from the permits. If you're using a tripod, then I recommend getting a permit from the mayor office film department located on 53rd St around the corner from the Ed Sullivan Theater.

03-01-2004, 10:25 AM
The city can't sue you after the fact for not having a permit, but they can stop your shoot on site if you don't have one.

Permits in NYC are really just a registration formality to insure that you're legitimate and you're not going to be doing anything to endanger the public or unduely tax the city's resources without compensation.

As stated before, permits are free, however in order to get one you must certify that you and your production are covered by liability insurance equal to or in excess of one million dollars.

If you can't get that insurance, and if you're not a student in a NYC school with it's own blanket coverage, you won't get a permit.

HOWEVER... if you're not using a tripod, you can shoot almost anywhere without a permit. If you do choose to set up a tripod and lights, the worst that the cops ever do is just tell you to beat it...and they will do that, and they will make sure that you don't come back.

If you set up a tripod anywhere in the vacinity of times square, you will be met by the police in under a minute, I know from lots of experience.

One final idea: bogen sells several varieties of clamps that attach to camera heads. You can attach a tripod head to a pole or bench and use that as a makeshift tripod. Even though you're attached to public property in most cases, it's not technically a tripod...so you can get away with it most of the time.

good luck

08-09-2004, 12:33 PM

Student Films: Students must obtain a letter from their school, on the school's letterhead, stating the student's name, their status as a student (i.e. full-time, in good standing) the date(s) of the shoot and the signature of the appropriate representative from the school.

Hope this helps