Go backBack to selection


in Filmmaking
on Oct 29, 2007

The Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting today issued proposed new rules for the permitting of film shoots in the city of New York. If you remember back several dozen internet news cycles (like around late July), an outcry arose when the Mayor’s Office issued specific new shooting rules that seemed to many to disregard First Amendment rights, legitimate news gathering needs, the needs of tourists, and the working practices of artisanal street photographers and experimental filmmakers. Protests were had, everyone from no-budget filmmakers to Keith Olbermann chimed in, and a grass roots group, Picture NY, organized the opposition.

The whole thing had a happy ending when the Mayor’s Office announced they were withdrawing the proposed changes and drafting new rules, which have been issued, again in draft form, today. (The document can be read here, and an executive summary has been prepared as well.)

From the press release:

Under the new draft of the proposed rule, a permit would be required if equipment or vehicles are being used by the production or if the filming activity creates an obstruction. “Equipment” is defined as film cameras, videocameras, lights, sets, and other production related materials, but does not include hand-held devices or tripods.

“Obstruction” is defined in the proposed rule as the assertion of exclusive control over a public space resulting in the obstruction of one or more lanes of a street or walkway, or when production activity results in either less than eight feet or one-half the width of the sidewalk or passageway (whichever is greater) being available for unobstructed sidewalk use by pedestrians.

A permit would not be required if the production uses hand-held devices or tripods, its activity does not present an obstruction, and it is not using equipment or vehicles. An optional permit would be available in these instances, and would not require liability insurance.

The new rules were drawn up in collaboration with the Independent Feature Project (IFP), Fractured Atlas, Creative Capital, The Moving Pictures Collective of NYC, and the International Center of Photography (ICP).

I’ve just read through the executive summary once and will review these changes more thoroughly in the next day or two. But, on first read, I very much agree with with new emphasis on public safety and egress as being the key factors in determining whether or not a permit is required. (As I mentioned in a previous blog posts, the previous changes were much more threatening to amateur filmmakers, tourists and photographers than they were to many independents, who customarily buy insurance to protect their cast, crew, equipement and productions.) These new rules do seem to have been carefully crafted to address the needs of various different constituencies while still adopting common sense public safety laws. And, thankfully, some of the previous proposal’s more ridiculous provisions, like requiring a permit if five or more people were in one place for ten minutes or more, have been struck.

I’ll comment more when I’ve thoroughly digested the document, but, in the meantime, Filmmaker would love to hear what you think. Please comment below.

© 2024 Filmmaker Magazine. All Rights Reserved. A Publication of The Gotham