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View Full Version : Do I need a permit for this shot?



TimothyJinx
08-25-2005, 10:33 AM
I have a scene I need to film on a city street. I have it worked out that all but one shot can be done without even taking the camera out of the van or car. These shots include driving by a person who watches as the van drives by and also a shot of the van driving by from the person's perspective. I figured I could just be in a parked car and get a shot of the van driving by. Lighting is not a concern at this point.

The shot I am worried about is a crane shot. I need a shot of the van driving away as the crane rises. If I have the tripod and crane in the back of a pickup truck am I OK?

HorseFilms
08-25-2005, 10:38 AM
I'd send an email to the city where you plan to shoot. Find out if permits are required to shoot on a city street. Many cities won't require a permit unless you need them to block off a street or something.

Josh_Boelter
08-25-2005, 11:10 AM
I watched Ed Burnsís ďSidewalks of New YorkĒ last night with the commentary track. There were a bunch of shots in that film where Burns said they didnít have permits. They were on NYC streets and just stole shots as they saw fit. Not only that, they stole shots that included Brittany Murphy ascending the steps of a New York apartment building. You never actually see her go inside because the door was locked and they didnít have permission to be there. This was a $1 million movie. Low budget by Hollywood standard, but not by indie standards. Interesting that he was able to steal so many shots in New York without legal recourse. Iím guessing that since the crew was always on public property, thereís nothing the city can do unless they catch you in the act of shooting without a permit.

Iíd say youíre probably safe, but Iím no lawyer so I canít say for sure.

Cheers,

Josh

pookie_old
08-25-2005, 11:20 AM
Every municipality, in every city, has it's own requirements. You'll need to check like Horse said. Some require permits, some don't.

This is the kind of question that cannot be answered by anyone on these forums.

Sirius_Doggy
08-25-2005, 12:26 PM
Hey Pook - Be careful
<- You're banging a dent into the side of my Monitor....

Fake Name
08-25-2005, 01:03 PM
You answer is yes, you need a permit. Every city in which I've shot commercially would require one, as well as an insurance certificate with the city co-named worth at least a million of liability.

So, there you are, yes, you must have it.

But I wouldn't get one for that shoot- no way. And, if they catch you, they'll tell you to move along. And move along I would. To my second location.

BE CAREFUL. There are idiots in the world who are easily distracted and may crash their cars. They will, without a doubt, come after you. While they may not have a case, it will cost you just to defend. Don't put out any cones, or try to direct traffic.

fn

mrblue1022
08-25-2005, 01:40 PM
Like other people have mentioned, you should check with your city about permit requirements. Where I live you can shoot all you want on public streets as long as you don't block traffic or pedestrian access. Chances are that a pickup with a crane in the bed is going to attract attention, and depending on motor vehicle laws in your city you might get fined for having a crane operator working out of the back of a pick up. Double check just to make sure, it's better to be covered then fined.

Rob

Zig_Zigman
08-25-2005, 01:53 PM
Permits = insurance in the major cities. You gots inusurance?

If not, just get the shot.

Fake Name
08-25-2005, 05:03 PM
Better yet, get insurance of some type.

Noel Evans
08-26-2005, 07:00 PM
Play dumb.... do your shot guerilla style and if you get busted say your making your first movie for fun and had no idea what was needed.

somewestfilms
09-01-2005, 09:53 PM
One of the best bits of advice I received was, "the first time you get caught filmming something you're not supposed to, chances are you won't go to jail." I have put this advice to work for me a few times, and I haven't been to jail for it yet.

Icarus2005
09-07-2005, 06:08 PM
In many cities you can get away with it once. Some places are big trouble, and any federal place is a very big and can be a 500 dollar fine.

My concern is your idea of a crane on a pickup! Sand bags won't work, it has to be bolted down to the truck - trust me! That's a disaster waiting to happen, not to mention risking ruining you camera.

doesn't like that will work because it won't get you the height you need and won't be stable enough. And if it is high enough then it's too big for a pickup.

If you're in a big busy city that can be very hard to get. Much easier to steal a rooftop shot in my opinion. or pay someone to shoot out there window.

TimothyJinx
09-07-2005, 09:17 PM
Don't let the crane in a pickup scare you. The pickup will not be moving - I just suggested a pickup so the crane would not be on the street or on the sidewalk. The shot will be a closeup of the back of a van and the crane will rise as the van pulls away.

The city is very small and after about 6 p.m. the streets are almost completely empty. In fact, we shot a few of the scenes the other night and I commented that this would be a great place to shoot a "last man on earth" type of film.

Icarus2005
09-07-2005, 10:32 PM
When I hear crane I think BIG, like over 20' range
I always think of smaller range as jibs, which is what I have, only arounf a 6' range.

the description of your shot is the type we typically see done in films where the camera rises up so 25 to 50 feet as the car pulls away. It's a cool shot, nealry impossible to achieve without a some very expensive gear.

GenJerDan
09-08-2005, 07:25 AM
Find a local business (tree surgeons, cable guys, etc...) who has a cherry picker. Talk them into helping out for a few hours for some free advertising via the film credits. Stand in the bucket and become one with the crane shot. :)

TimothyJinx
09-08-2005, 09:34 AM
Dan, the tree surgeon idea is a good one. I may have to look into that.

But today, I am using a CobraCrane I with the extension along with the recommended Manfrotto tripod so I can get up a little bit. Plenty enough for this humble beginner.

latenitemike
10-03-2005, 07:53 AM
go guerilla, i shot a scene (coverage) at a local adult detention center until i was asked to leave by some guys with uniforms billy clubs and guns and bigger muscles than any of the crew or cast, we show'd up ready to shoot and worked for probably 15 minutes before the bulls realized 'what up' like rodriguez says be scary mike

Ernest_Acosta
10-04-2005, 02:20 PM
In New York, if they see tripods fuggetaboutit. You are setting yourself up for a fine and possible seizure of your equipment. If you are shooting a landmark, bridge, or federal, state or city building, you may go to jail. Even if you have a permit there are restrictions on where you could shoot (post 911 folks). If your city is small and not too busy, then just put a couple of your friends down the block with two way cell phones on the lookout for Five-O. Regarding the crane, PUT IT ON THE GROUND, don't take chances with cranes, people could get hurt or even killed. Shoot what you have to and get out of there quickly. If your friends call saying the cops are coming down the street, just take the tape out of the camera. You won't have time to disassemble or god forbid run down the block with a crane (laugh). Just tell them you were practicing a shot and that there is no tape in the camera. That nixes the point that you were filming. Okay, all you morally straight folks don't read from here.

If you really want to do it with no hassle, get someone with a valid pe*m*t, then ph*t*sh*p your ass off..... if you get my drift. Aaaah the things we do to shoot a movie.

GenJerDan
10-04-2005, 03:11 PM
And elect politicians who don't do crap like that.

You block traffic? Then get a citation for blocking traffic. What has filming got to do with it, other than lining someone's pocket?

You "disturbing the peace"? Then get arrested for that, not making a movie.

REAL tired of people with their hands out. Parasites. Leeches.

XCheck
10-04-2005, 03:21 PM
Me no speek inglisch - that's my defense.

C'mon guys: Permits, moving along, ... sure. The city needs to do some risk management. They might even fine you if you're caught without a permit. But going to jail? Are you serious? For what crime?

I think anyone who would end up in jail for filming on a public property in a publicly accessible area (i.e., street), would have a pretty good shot at suing the city (and winning) for violation of their personal freedom guaranteed by the constitution - at least here in the good old new world. Remember, if it means jail, it means a criminal court. If it's a criminal court, it means a jury of your peers. Guess on whose side they would be? - unless you've committed another crime while filming, of course.

The saddest thing about this thread is that people are actually thinking they might go to jail. Where are we - China? Cuba? The USSR?

Go guerilla, go permit, but don't let anyone scare you with the J-word.

I can't but repeat a quote someone used here a while ago:


Those who are willing to sacrifice their liberty for the sake of temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.
It applies to film making too.

XCheck
10-04-2005, 03:23 PM
And elect politicians who don't do crap like that.
<...>
REAL tired of people with their hands out. Parasites. Leeches.Word.

GenJerDan
10-04-2005, 03:25 PM
C'mon guys: Permits, moving along, ... sure. The city needs to do some risk management.

What risk? Distracting drivers, perhaps? They gonna fine cuties in halter tops, too?

Now, if you're hanging upside down from the center span of a bridge somewhere...yeah, a permit is probably needed.

Set up on some guys lawn, filming a barbecue scene? Their choices are bite me, or bite some BBQed ribs.

XCheck
10-04-2005, 03:55 PM
They gonna fine cuties in halter tops, too?It's a small miracle I haven't had any accidents. These are great times for middle-aged dirty old bastard like myself. :thumbsup:

Don't know how it is elsewhere, but Toronto doesn't charge for film permit. But by requiring you to have one (for which you need insurance), they are basically getting off the hook if someone runs into one of those halter-topped cuties while walking backwards, checking what's up with that film crew.

In other words: if you are stupid (or blind) enough to get hurt when filming goes on, don't go after us, go after the producers.

But yeah - we are basically saying the same thing. :beer:

StMad
10-04-2005, 06:30 PM
In a world where people sue for almost anything, I can see the point in govts imposing certain restrictions / regulations. It becomes a viscious cycle otherwise and the taxpayer ends up footing the bill.

Mind you I actually enjoy the adrenalin rush, and don't have the moola (nor want to pay the moola) to organise permits / insurance. Put a little excitement in your life (at no-ones expense), get your shots, but understand the consequences.

Pale Rider
10-04-2005, 08:24 PM
Ditto to most of the responces so far... screw the permit and take your shots... odds are no one will care. I've taken plenty of street shots without permits. The most response I've ever gotten is a nosy old guy asking what we were doing in the street. :thumbsup:

jhvid
10-05-2005, 08:10 AM
I'll throw in my .02. I just got done shooting a new short here in Memphis and we had a lot of exterior stuff in the city, right downtown, and we had no problems. Now I was expecting to get hassled, but we made sure to talk to the surrounding businesses and let them know what we were doing/ask permission, and we didn't have any trouble. We were on the sidewalks with a 5500w generator running, lights, c-stands, the whole deal, and we never got one sideways look from anybody; we even had cops drive right by and never even tap the brakes. Now when I shot in the suburbs, at about 2am a cop came by and he stopped, but he didn't have any problem with us being there, he just said that he always stops when he sees that many people out at 2am. Of course, most of the time we weren't standing in the middle of the street (cul de sac yes), but I think the big thing is just make sure that the people that live around there (or own businesses) know what you're doing. As long as nobody complains (at least here) it's not an issue. But I don't live where you live, so that's just my experience.

Landon D. Parks
10-13-2005, 12:15 AM
In Indiana, where I live, The state itself does not require a permit, nor does most cities... Unless you need to have them block off the street, then some minor papper work with the police dept. needs to be done so they can post the proper street closing signs. Even this should be at no cost to you, here in Bloomington (where I live), you have to pay $100.00/ per day to have a segment of street shorter than 1/4 mile closed. Anything over is taken into consideration, but they might not allow you to close that much street unless you have a valid reason (Road Construction, Wreck, etc).

Rich Lee
10-13-2005, 12:55 AM
i heard that as long as the camera is in or mounted on a car you dont need a permit...as soon as you step foot on the ground with the camera roling, or a tripod hits the ground with the camera on it, thats when you need a permit..

i have shot so much in and around los angeles with a dvx on a tripod and never once even got "move along" from a cop. even one time when i was in the middle of the road in the turning lane.

however...in NYC...i had a my canon 20d out taking photos...and every cop i walked by wanted to know what i was doing taking pictures witha pro camera....they never gave me a ticket or even told me to get lost...they just wanted to know why.

anyway, do what you gotta do...but you might just be fine going out and shooting it...just dont expect to be able to set lights up on a busy street.

wbfish
10-13-2005, 09:12 PM
Permits? We don't need no stinking permits! Roger Corman never got permits.

TimothyJinx
10-13-2005, 09:45 PM
Landon-
It just so happens we were planning to shoot this shot in New Albany. It's right across the river for us Kentuckians.

We ended up changing the scene and did not need to do the crane shot in the city. We shot it on a country road in the middle of nowhere.

Thanks for all the advice, fellas. The next time I need to shoot something in a public place I will go into it a little more bravely.

daviddelaurier
11-10-2005, 09:33 PM
I live in Athens GA and I film quite a bit downtown (actually it is the only place we film). Last Christmas Eve me and my crew went out, downtown, and started filming. We did everything. There were no cars, no people, no life. It was great! We did tons of stuff in the middle of the street and then a cop pulled up, rolled down his window and asked us what we were doing. We said we were filming a little video and then he asked us something insane, he wanted to be in it. Once we were home we had footage of a police chase, first by car, then on foot. It was the single most amazing and exciting thing i have done filming. Screw the permit.

Pale Rider
11-10-2005, 10:32 PM
That's awesome man! More proof that most sensible law enforcement officials don't really care about permits and crap. (especially here in the south)

jpbankesmercer
11-11-2005, 03:38 AM
I'm divided on this...

1, If I hav'nt got the money for insurance, I turn up and just shoot it even if I get moved along. You just might end up with something better like David.

2, Sounds risky, crane-people-pickup-people-heads-crush-running away-being tracked down to your parents-going for a government holiday-remembering the blood forever.

It's all down to cash, I would maybe re-think the shot. Turn-up at the location and try and shoot it quickly handheld.
Rather than be a risk to anybody.

J.P.

r_dahl
12-02-2005, 09:57 AM
...Iíd say youíre probably safe, but Iím no lawyer so I canít say for sure.

Cheers,

Josh


have to agree. know of a few commercials where shots have been (for lack of a better word) stolen. not to mention a lot of music vids & even some features. (low profile is key)
in fact in some countries like rome etc... permits are very weird so you say you are shooting a documentary & it's pretty much hands off.

btw: i'd be careful of contacting the city unless you really plan on applying for a permit. though most cites will be cool, esp. if you're a student etc... you don't want to send up a flag that you will be shooting in their city. know what i mean?
if it's video & lo profile, imho i'd hop on it.

bol

John Wesley Norton
12-13-2005, 08:13 PM
Hello everyone. I'm new here. This thread is starting to grow cobwebs but I'm going to throw an opinion in here anyway. I have no problem with how anyone wants to make their films. Film are stories and telling stories shouldn't cause one to be weighed down with worry.
However, if you want to be a filmmaker, professionally, at some point, I think you should act as if you already were. That means trying to do things the right way. The city isn't going to shut you down out of spite, simply because you want to film a scene here or there. For the most part they won't make you have a permit unless you need them to do something for you like close down a street or something. If they require you to carry insurance for the location that you want to shoot in, it's for a reason. Production insurance is a pain, but a necessary one of anything goes wrong. If you tell the police department where you will be and what you will be doing, that's usually good enough.
I know that everyone wants to do their films as cheap as possible, but raising money is also a part of the process. One of the biggest parts.
Act like a professional and you will be a professional. It's not like you have to have a licence for this stuff.
Of course, I'm mainly talking about features here. For short films, don't spend a dime because you'll never make it back. Shorts are fun and can get you a lot of experience, but they are not an avenue for profit.
Rock on.

bird605
03-13-2006, 07:28 AM
Just to point out something about permits.If your video has anything to do with news of any sort, you do not need any permits for filming anywhere.





I watched Ed Burnsís ďSidewalks of New YorkĒ last night with the commentary track. There were a bunch of shots in that film where Burns said they didnít have permits. They were on NYC streets and just stole shots as they saw fit. Not only that, they stole shots that included Brittany Murphy ascending the steps of a New York apartment building. You never actually see her go inside because the door was locked and they didnít have permission to be there. This was a $1 million movie. Low budget by Hollywood standard, but not by indie standards. Interesting that he was able to steal so many shots in New York without legal recourse. Iím guessing that since the crew was always on public property, thereís nothing the city can do unless they catch you in the act of shooting without a permit.

Iíd say youíre probably safe, but Iím no lawyer so I canít say for sure.

Cheers,

Josh

heisest
03-13-2006, 04:58 PM
I do lots of wedding video's in DC and there are invitably couples that want a picture of themselves with the Capital in the background. So every Saturday if your are on the North side of the US Capital you will see large groups of wedding parties getting pictures and video.

You don't need a permit.... but you cannot use a tripod. But one day I decided to get a really far shot of the wedding party and to make it steady enough I put it on a tripod. I got about 1 minute of shooting when I saw some Capital Police roll over and tell me to stop using the tripod. I had started to put it away when they got there (I saw them first) The reason I heard from my other video pals is that if your using a tripod then you are obviously a professional movie maker of some sort. The shot looked really nice... so it was worth the risk.