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View Full Version : DVrig pro...and the law



Ldogg
07-15-2005, 07:38 PM
I am about to be filming a documentary in numerous cities across America. Although I do have a tripod, most of my footage will be rolling from a DVrig pro. Just for clarity...the shoulder/waist stabalizer that you use to counteract the weight of the camera for long and steady shots.

I am aware that many cities laws for filming are that as soon as you set down a tripod, the cops can bother you for your license or permission to film. However the DVrig pro is not a tripod, nor does any part of it touch the ground.

I also should explain the situation. We are all young guys and despite our attempts we certainly don't look as pro as most movie crews. With the boom flying, a sound guy, and two camera's however it is obvious that our intentions are larger than home video.

Do you think we will escape the law on this one, or do I need to call ahead to everywhere. Thanks!

Sean Michael
07-15-2005, 11:19 PM
It's easier to obtain forgiveness than permission. :happy:

Ldogg
07-16-2005, 08:55 PM
I agree completely with you...I only hope our optomism doesn't end up costing us. Anybody ever been hassled in a DVrig?

Loki
07-16-2005, 09:04 PM
I disagree with you on that...

since a pesky annoying person could just easily call the cops and complain about you... which then the cops can just seize all the footage and your equipment.

Getting a permit for a student production... or a small no budget film shouldn't be too difficult... unless your shooting in hollywood that is..

get the permit.. it will save you headaches.

now.. having said that... you can also just as easily claim that your a news crew...

if your filming in really really public locations... I would say permit.. but you can probably get away with it if your just a small crew.

then again.. shooting a doc is different... cost vs. reward... if it is too much of an issue and a problem to get a permit.. I say fuck it.. and just shoot without one.

The thing that gives it away the most is the boom op .... as soon as you have a boom.. it means movie... camera mounted mic... nobody notices anything..

thisiswells
07-16-2005, 09:08 PM
Go Indie! Go indie! GO!

Sean Michael
07-16-2005, 09:45 PM
This question is totally dependent on where you're doing the filming... and as Loki mentions, how discreet you are (presence of crew, equipment, etc.).

A couple of people with a DVX and shotgun mic will probably slip under most radar screens.

Certain cities, like NYC and LA, will be more restrictive than other, smaller locales.

I was listening to the DVD commentry of Primer, a big winner at last year's Sundance. The director mentions filming at a gas station in which the manager REFUSED them permission to film. They just moved their equipment across the street, and the actors went right on pumping gas and delivering dialogue...with the cameras rolling.

I'm not recommending such a course of action at all, but it happens every day. There's a cost/benefit analysis here.

Josh_Boelter
07-17-2005, 08:40 AM
I also heard that comment on the Primer commentary. I'm curious, doesn't the gas station have legal recourse for those stolen shots (especially since they flat out admitted that they asked for and were denied permission)? I'm wondering because there are some shots I want to get at an aandoned warehouse later this year. I know for a fact that the propety owners will not give me permission. But the places is abandined and kind of remote, so we could easily steal the shots without getting caught in the act. But it's not public property, so I 'm not sure if I'm setting myself up for trouble later. I was actually going to give up on this location until I heard the Primer commentary.

Barry_S
07-17-2005, 09:14 AM
The tripod thing is a red herring that *isn't true in most places. Policies and attitudes vary widely by locale. I'll tell that in downtown DC, you can shoot with a "naked" DVX unhindered, but adding a DVRig Pro puts you under any policies that apply to television journalists/news crews. This isn't written anywhere, but how you're perceived. Away from Federal buildings, you can run a large production permit-free in DC without getting hassled. My advice to you is to not worry about getting permission ahead of time (if you're shooting on public property). Also, make some official-looking credentials for your production and get them laminated. You'd be amazed at the power of an ID badge.

mmm
07-17-2005, 09:31 AM
If permission is easy to get, get it. I have always found people very helpful, but that is in England. My mate in LA says it is a pain in the arse!

adamblakecarver
07-17-2005, 01:22 PM
all you have to do is say it's a student film. and that should get cops off your back in LA. A couple of my buddies got caught grabbing some shots at LAX and they used the "film school" approach and the cop left them alone.

ttt
07-17-2005, 02:14 PM
I was listening to the DVD commentry of Primer, a big winner at last year's Sundance. The director mentions filming at a gas station in which the manager REFUSED them permission to film. They just moved their equipment across the street, and the actors went right on pumping gas and delivering dialogue...with the cameras rolling.



nice! what happens when the gas tank is full? not alot of time for many takes! the manager at the station who refused mustve been pissed and knew what they were doing right?

t :laugh:

Sean Michael
07-17-2005, 04:32 PM
nice! what happens when the gas tank is full? not alot of time for many takes! the manager at the station who refused mustve been pissed and knew what they were doing right?

Primer is a remarkable film for many reasons, not the least of which is that most scenes were done in ONE take.

It was shot on film with a total budget in the $7k range, so cost was an overriding concern. To conserve film, the actors say they rehearsed each scene over and over (like 20 times) before they started the cameras.

With regard to liability to the gas station, it probably exists in theory. But what were the actual damages? No corporate logos were visible. Heck, they even bought gas. :evil:

Ldogg
07-17-2005, 05:48 PM
Awesome remarks folks. I think that the student film approach will work in most situations and I will also invest in some laminated credintials like you advised.

The biggest cities we will be in are LA, St. Louis, New Orleans, San Diego, San Fran. The problem is I don't know exactly where I will be in those area. It is more an exploring thing. I will also be in some national parks. Any experience in National parks? How do you get permission there?

I hate even adding this last bit, because it is actually what the message of our Doc is trying to fight against, but it is reality so I will inform you of the "whole picture". We are videoing a terminally ill child's first venture out of his home town. The child is in a wheelchair as well. I believe that with the combination of "this is a student film" and the the very likely scenario that a police officer will pity us...I think we might be ok.

Any more thoughts? Especially on the Nat'l parks?

thisiswells
07-17-2005, 06:01 PM
We were met with resistance once to filming in a non-national park, but so happened they received a lot of requests from film crews and frankly just got tired of them. So, we agreed not to bring in the 'jib' and they agreed to let us film there. I think it all depends on your motives for the project and the perceived hassle it will cause them.

In your case, your cause is good, so I would be highly surprised if you ran into any show-stopping confrontations. A simple explanation of what you're doing should suffice. As always whenever bringing a large group to anywhere, it's a good idea to call ahead and let them know you are coming.

I would approach the parks service from the perspective that you are bringing a disabled person into the park and are asking for special arrangements, in addition to filming the process. Then, they would actually be required to help, I believe. I would probably, but not deceptively, downplay the film part of it, because in reality, the film IS secondary to your friend seeing the world, right?

It's all part of the puzzle, but the most important thing is his comfort. Approach authority figures from that perspective and they will go out of their way to help you. I would hope so, anyways.

robdawgs
07-17-2005, 06:54 PM
From a legal point of view, you only need permission on the property where you are filming FROM. What you are filming, if it is in public view, is legal for anyone to shoot. Also, if you are on the street, or other public property, only the cops, and not a property owner, or store owner, can legally stop you from shooting.

GenJerDan
07-18-2005, 01:22 AM
With regard to liability to the gas station, it probably exists in theory. But what were the actual damages? No corporate logos were visible. Heck, they even bought gas.

And so what if there were corporate logos?

A copyright violation = taking something you didn't create and claiming it as your own, or siphoning away revenue from the real owner.

A trade mark violation = opening a gas station with a big ol' scallop shell on the sign so customers think you are a Shell station when you're not.

The only real thing to worry about is slander/libel-ish things, like if you had the gas station selling kiddie porn out of the back room. Bad for the company image, and they would probably be pissed at you.

Dan

Ldogg
07-18-2005, 11:51 AM
Dead on wells!

ttt
07-18-2005, 01:36 PM
And so what if there were corporate logos?
The only real thing to worry about is slander/libel-ish things, like if you had the gas station selling kiddie porn out of the back room. Bad for the company image, and they would probably be pissed at you.

hypothetical situation:
say you have a shot of diet coke on the table in the scene, you arent making it look bad... you are showing you are a consumer of their product [coca-cola co]... so that should be ok yes?

obviously if you are doing something bad with the product, shedding a bad light on it, it makes sense the corporation is going to be unhappy. im talking about the general everyday 'hey theres a starbucks cup' situation.

i know there are plenty of actual 'product placement' companies who pay to get their product in key shots in key films/tv/etc. exposure = $$$.

personally for myself, i would try to avoid any logos just to avoid conflict, but was just curious.
thanks

t :laugh:

Josh_Boelter
07-18-2005, 06:03 PM
I'd just assume avoid product placement as well. Especially since I'm not getting anything for it. I'll take a Coke can and repaint it to make my own brand of soda. That's more fun anyway.

Cheers,

Josh

pmark23
07-18-2005, 08:33 PM
In America there used to be a concept called "Fair Use", which would allow a logo or trademark (among other things) to appear in a film unintentionally or accidently, or as a subject.

Technically it still exists, but corporation know that just the threat of a lawsuit is enough to deter "fair use". They have lots of money and good lawyers, while filmmakers are usually poor and starving and with no legal resources.

If any of these cases ever made it to court they would be immediately thrown out, but the threat is enough. Now they don't even need to threaten -- filmmakers will censor themselves either out of fear or ignorance of the law.

When it comes down to it, you can film whatever you want and nobody can do squat about it except threaten you.

Take an entertainment lawyer out to lunch or spend an hour in his office. It'll be $50-$100 well spent, and you'll learn some surprising things.

GenJerDan
07-18-2005, 10:08 PM
Watch a film with a street scene. Did someone go in there and roto out all the Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler, BMW, etc.... names on the cars?

Nope.

Is there a scene in a livingroom? Are the wallpaper and upholstery patterns airbrushed out?

Nope.

Anyone wearing a Ralph Lauren shirt? Levis?

Dan

Josh_Boelter
07-19-2005, 02:56 AM
Right. The tricky thing with Fair Use (at least as I understand it) is when you use a product in a way it's not meant to be used. Say you have a scientist who needs some battery acid but is fresh out of the stuff, so he substitutes Coke and finds that it's pretty much the same thing as battery acid. Of course, you can get away with a lot more if you can claim your work is Satire. If your work is satirical, after all, Coke can't claim damages for the battery acid comparison because it's not meant to be taken seriously.

mmm
07-19-2005, 03:37 AM
Just avoid logos if possible.

I find they are distracting in a film anyway..."Look! there's Mcdonalds!"

Satire can use product placement to great advantage: see Wayne's World (2 I think..hehehehe) and Austin Powers 2.

ttt
07-19-2005, 08:37 PM
Just avoid logos if possible.

I find they are distracting in a film anyway..."Look! there's Mcdonalds!"

Satire can use product placement to great advantage: see Wayne's World (2 I think..hehehehe) and Austin Powers 2.

austin powers they used every corporate branding logo possible... lol.
t :grin:

Pais
07-19-2005, 09:46 PM
The branding thing reminds me of the music video for Daft Punk's "Da Funk" -- in the convenience store, every can, bag, and box had been turned around to avoid any possible legal problems. In practice, that probably wasn't necessary, but it's kind of an amusing bit of trivia ...

GenJerDan
07-19-2005, 10:06 PM
-- in the convenience store, every can, bag, and box had been turned around to avoid any possible legal problems. ...

To avoid legal problems? Or because none of the companies would pay up for the product placement?

Dan

Pais
07-19-2005, 11:55 PM
Not sure, but it's just a music video. I just remember that Spike Jonze pointed the shelves out in the commentary, but I don't remember what he said.

ttt
07-20-2005, 02:12 PM
amazing how many times the apple logo on the powerbook case shows up in tele and film.
go steve jobs go...
t :grin:

Sad Max
07-20-2005, 02:56 PM
FWIW I do a lot of film & tv work, and I have never seen a casual approach taken to identifiable corporate IDs or trademarks. Every script is run by a C&C search company to look for existing products etc that match names in the scripts. If we don't have clearance to use a given product (or business name, or place name, etc), then a new one is invented and sent for C&C check.

On some occasions we've even rejected locations where billboard-type adverts would be unavoidably in the shot, or brought in dressing to screen them out, even though those adverts are obviously visible from public property in a public place.

That said, it may just be that the productions I've worked on have been unusually cautious; since it's studio-produced network and feature stuff, they probably have excessively paranoid legal departments who make them do it that way.

YMMV.

Josh_Boelter
07-20-2005, 07:57 PM
I saw Terry Gilliam speaking in an auditorium (I think it was the "Lost in La Mancha" DVD) and he said something similar. Apparently he was threatened with a lawsuit for including a shot of a billboard even though it was shot from a public space. He said that the only way to be truly independent is to be some zero-budget indoe filmmaker with no money. After all, if you have nothing to lose, it's not worth the corporations' troubles to sue.

Cheers,

Josh

danny
07-20-2005, 09:48 PM
To be real steady but unnoticed try the DvRigJunior.

Danny.

DVXFilmMaker
09-01-2005, 10:21 PM
I don't know about every city, but this is Los Angeles:
http://www.eyeonaguadulce.com/Docs/Film%20Permit%20Exemption%20-%20Rule%20of%20Three.pdf

ullanta
09-01-2005, 10:54 PM
There's one thing noone's mentioned here, so I'll throw it in... in many cases, including corporate logos/identifiable products in your film can limit funding and distribution opportunities. I've been on PBS productions that are very touchy about this (either because it would bother their sponsors or because it would look like unfair bias towards their sponsors), and I imagine that in today's world where so many industries are tied together, it comes up a lot.

As various people have said, I'm not completely clued in on all the legalities - or politics - but have certainly had the experience that on major productions such things are either avoided, or deliberate product placement - but never taken lightly.

That said, has anyone seen film festival regulations relating to such things?

DMProductions
09-02-2005, 12:32 PM
Great thread, y'all. I know that on many of our shoots we've had to 'Greek' out an identifying logo or brand name - a Dasani water bottle, for example, had to have the label stripped off - because the shoot wasn't promoting the product.

DMProductions
09-02-2005, 12:34 PM
I know that doesn't address the original question...in my mind, be as low key as possible, and shoot yer heart out!

Good luck with the project. :thumbsup:

Serif
12-05-2005, 09:20 AM
I have shot in the International terminal at JFK, and I had no hassles at all. I even had two wireless lavs going, and was recharging batteries at a pay phone. I was approached by one Homeland Security guy, and he just wanted to know if I knew any producers looking for actors!

xort
12-05-2005, 04:52 PM
Small crews in the public areas of airports are generally OK except around security checkpoints. I've obtained permission to shoot inside a major terminal, no problem.

Every national park is going to have their own attitude. Considering the subject, I can't imagine they would ban you. If you are a large production they will want a fee, but using the student film and small crew angle should make things easy.

I also have shot many docs for cable networks and I'm always asked to avoid logos as much as possible. Some companies are extremely zelous at protecting their brand and others aren't.

Most cities have issues with working in the street and interfering with traffic. They usually will let you slide if you are not interfering with anybody or with traffic.

As for cops confiscating your tapes and equipment...what country are you living in? I pray for the day some cop tries that...if it happens, keep rolling!

willshipp
05-10-2006, 02:43 AM
just tell the cops your doing a student projects and they will leave you alone. usaully they will only bother you if your in a bad place and or trustpassing. you will be fine and they dont mess with school projects.

idvfilms
05-30-2006, 07:52 PM
Make some official-looking credentials for your production and get them laminated. You'd be amazed at the power of an ID badge.

Yes, this very true and in the words of Ringo Starr: 'All you've gotta do is act naturally'

JwrFord
05-31-2006, 02:25 AM
http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf

PS keep in mind it is ILLEGAL for your footage to be confinscated. This means that even if your removed by police and/or security gaurds your still entitled to the footage you got.
I will revisit this thread with research of things I have found and some more links. I have read some nasty stories about shooting on train tracks (its federal domain these days). If your going to shoot with this approach "shoot now ask later" keep it small IE) certain citys require permits after the 5 person crew is exceeded.
Check your individual state laws to see if its applicable but seems that this stuff is mostly nationwide.

MojoTrancer
05-31-2006, 04:21 PM
For the music video I'm working on we wanted to film at a remote location owned by the Utah Department of Natural Resources. We pretty much reasoned that since we had to climb a fence and had a decent-sized crew we should probably get permission. As it turned out, the Natural Resource guys were very helpful. They told me that they like to encourage filming in Utah so all they wanted was a small application fee (50 bucks). I felt better with the permit. Funny thing was every time I thought we were getting hassled, it was just a park official or a sheriff's deputy dropping by to watch us film as a spectator. One of the park rangers was a even fan and got his CD signed by the band. Everyone was great. I never had to show the permit.

In Over My Head
06-15-2006, 02:35 PM
I disagree with you on that...

since a pesky annoying person could just easily call the cops and complain about you... which then the cops can just seize all the footage and your equipment.
...
Sieze your equipment and footage??? Under what law? Perhaps elsewhere in the world, but here in the US that would be difficult. If it were me, I don't care how many crew I had there, my answer to authorities would be simple, "I am rather excentric, and enjoy quality. This is an art project that I am doing for myself, for my own pleasure, for my own viewing. This is not comercial in any way at all." I am a pro still photographer, and when I do any photography for my own pleasure, (not often as I would rather get paid!), it looks just like a comercial shoot. I do EVERYTHING I would for a paying client. In fact, if anything I do MORE, because for myself I spare no expense, and a client may not want me to get as envolved as I would get for myself.
Talk to a good lawyer who is familar with where you will be shooting, and find out from him what to say, and what you can get away with. and remember, (and I say this as a guy who used to work for the PD), when talking to police, less is better. Don't give them any info you don't need to. The fewer words you say, the better. You have the right to photograph, or video tape in public. The cops may not like it, but you can do it. Now, if they get you to say something as to WHY you are doing it, then they may be able to stop you due to some ordinance. I can stand on the corner and voice my opinion about the upcoming mayoral election, that is my right, but if the cops ask me what I am doing and I say I want to recruite members for my candidate's campaign, or I am trying to get a rally going, they can shut me down. Yet, if I kept my mouth shut to them, I could have done those things, (as a side bennefit), and they could not stop me, (unless there was a disturbance, etc.) because I was exersizing my rights.

Scott982
06-15-2006, 08:26 PM
Sieze your equipment and footage??? Under what law? Perhaps elsewhere in the world, but here in the US that would be difficult.

If they think you are doing something illegal they sure can. Which they can come up with a reason to make anything illegal..

ESTEBEVERDE
06-15-2006, 08:50 PM
I disagree with you on that...

since a pesky annoying person could just easily call the cops and complain about you... which then the cops can just seize all the footage and your equipment.

Getting a permit for a student production... or a small no budget film shouldn't be too difficult... unless your shooting in hollywood that is..

get the permit.. it will save you headaches.

now.. having said that... you can also just as easily claim that your a news crew...

if your filming in really really public locations... I would say permit.. but you can probably get away with it if your just a small crew.

then again.. shooting a doc is different... cost vs. reward... if it is too much of an issue and a problem to get a permit.. I say poo poo it.. and just shoot without one.

The thing that gives it away the most is the boom op .... as soon as you have a boom.. it means movie... camera mounted mic... nobody notices anything..



?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?


I'm not sure what Law School ripped you off or what Bar gave you a pass, but it is probably best that you do not dispense legal advice lest you loose you License to Practice Law. ;-)

Now in all seriousness, there are very very few legal reasons that the police can confiscate any footage. For the most part it will require a warrant.

This is the law of the land. In fact, the United States Armed Forces would only do so under ridiculously extraordinary circumstances.

ESTEBEVERDE
06-15-2006, 08:52 PM
I agree completely with you...I only hope our optomism doesn't end up costing us. Anybody ever been hassled in a DVrig?

You need to see an attorney that knows the laws of the location that you will be filming.

Don't sweat it too much.

You most probably will be able to find some form of legal guidance for a modest fee or less.

ESTEBEVERDE
06-15-2006, 08:55 PM
For the music video I'm working on we wanted to film at a remote location owned by the Utah Department of Natural Resources. We pretty much reasoned that since we had to climb a fence and had a decent-sized crew we should probably get permission. As it turned out, the Natural Resource guys were very helpful. They told me that they like to encourage filming in Utah so all they wanted was a small application fee (50 bucks). I felt better with the permit. Funny thing was every time I thought we were getting hassled, it was just a park official or a sheriff's deputy dropping by to watch us film as a spectator. One of the park rangers was a even fan and got his CD signed by the band. Everyone was great. I never had to show the permit.


Exactly!


Make nice.

Be nice.

And it will almost always be alright.

arthur digby
12-12-2006, 07:56 PM
I believe that the laws regulating commercial filming or photography changed late last year or earlier this year. If I recall correctly (don't count on it) I believe that the
National Park Service imposes a fee for commercial use. I have no idea how much.

The following is from the webpage at Mount Rainier Nat Park on 12/12/06:

Permits are required if the filming, video taping, sound recording, or still photography:


• Involves the use of a model (or any on-camera talent), set, or prop
• Involves taking photographs of vehicles or other articles of commerce for the purpose of commercial advertising
• Could result in damage to park resources
• Could result in significant disruption of normal visitor use
• Requires access to areas normally closed to the visiting public

A request for a filming or photography permit may be denied if:



• In the opinion of the Superintendent or his/her designee, the filming activity requested represents a potential for harm or impact on the park’s natural, cultural, wilderness or recreational resources, may create health or safety risks, or disrupt visitor use and enjoyment
• It is determined that supervisory requirements for the proposed project will place unreasonable burdens on park staff, regardless of the applicant's willingness to pay supervisory costs
• The permittee fails to obtain insurance/bonding, or to agree to pay assessed cost recovery
• The proposed filming or photography would conflict with the visitors' normal use of the park
• The request includes entry into areas closed to the general visiting public, or which would allow activities not permitted to the average visitor

Generally, permits are not required for:



Visitors using cameras and/or recording devices for their own personal use

Sound technicians, and film or video news crews at breaking news events

NPS filming or photography, Department of the Interior Audiovisual Center filming, or filming/photography done pursuant to a cooperative agreement or contract

Moojangles
12-12-2006, 09:23 PM
its strange over here in Japan. I'm not sure what the exact laws are actually but its kind of scary. I hear its illegal to show anyones face (even if they are out in public) without their direct consent. So far i haven't bothered but i don't do anything major, i'd really be concered about that if i started working on major productions.

My friend told me that on episodes of Cops it would be the opposite in Japan, the guy being arresteds face would be visible because he commited a crime while the police officers faces would be blurred out because they are citizens and it would be illegal to show their faces (unless they give consent)

i can't verify the truth to this though, might be myth.

JBurkey
12-12-2006, 10:18 PM
Awesome remarks folks. I think that the student film approach will work in most situations and I will also invest in some laminated credintials like you advised.

The biggest cities we will be in are LA, St. Louis, New Orleans, San Diego, San Fran. The problem is I don't know exactly where I will be in those area. It is more an exploring thing. I will also be in some national parks. Any experience in National parks? How do you get permission there?

I hate even adding this last bit, because it is actually what the message of our Doc is trying to fight against, but it is reality so I will inform you of the "whole picture". We are videoing a terminally ill child's first venture out of his home town. The child is in a wheelchair as well. I believe that with the combination of "this is a student film" and the the very likely scenario that a police officer will pity us...I think we might be ok.

Any more thoughts? Especially on the Nat'l parks?

For what it's worth, I live in San Diego, and the filming permits are free. Not too much help if you don't know where you'll be filming, but just in case.

Good luck!