Film Permits (Do I need one)?
I live in Vermont. A very Small State. Vermont doesn't even have any entertainment lawyers because Vermont is not known for anything Film/Entertainment Related. I searched on Vermont.gov under permits and could not find anything about a film permit. Does that mean I don't need one? I even called my State House and permitting offices and no one there has ever heard of a filming permit. Do I just assume there isn't one or do I not trust what I'm being told?
I have a second question about permits.
I want to go around to locations in my state and film scenery, landscapes, bridges etc and then sell short clips of these for money on various Stock Video websites. Does that require a permit since I'm making money?
Vermont certainly has a history in filmmaking; the first hit in a google search will tell you that. While most every state has a film commission designed to handle these issues for you, Vermont's very small one was recently folded into the state commerce department. I'd contact that department and ask around for the resource person involved.
Individual cities may have their own permit rules and even their own film offices, so you'll need to check for that.
National parks have their own federal-based rules on film making. If it's a commercial film and not news or a student or hobby project, you may need permits, though they're generally just a formality. I don't know about Vermont state parks, but a call to any ranger office should clear that up.
I'm not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, but, if you are filming in a local park or on public grounds, though you may have an intrinsic right to film, it may be useful and safer for everyone in these goofy times to pre-notify the desk sergeant/dispatch desk of the local Police, using their non-emergency number. This will help avoid unpleasantness of cops being called to what they might believe is a real crime scene, peeping tom case, or or other disturbance, if the dispatcher can tell them you've given advance warning that you're shooting your film someplace. At least once a year, usually spring, some kid auteurs will stage a scene with prop weapons or a phony fight or something like that, and squad cars will suddenly come flying in, disgorging officers with weapons drawn. I'm surprised more casualties don't occur. better to play it safe and notify authorities where you're going to be working.
As to shooting public buildings vs. private ones, it's a gray area. Some buildings and famous sites have obtained trademark status and charge you to include their building/ site in some situations (Empire State Building, Hollywood sign, etc.). malls are actually private space, and you generally need permission to shoot, even if it's for a commercial for the mall or a store in the mall. If you shoot something like a Walmart from public land, you might be okay, then again, depending on what you're doing, if Walmart wants to sue you, can you afford to fight it?
It's not nearly as clear-cut as you might hopr it to be. How about you list the potential locations you specifically need, and maybe we can make suggestions?
If your on private property with signed permission and waver then no. If you are on public property like at a park or street not obstructing people or property then no. For example lets say I am doing a news report I can film on a public sidewalk as long as I am not endangering people lives or property.
If you need to close off a street or think you will cause issues if you do then yes. General rule of thumb is if you can shoot with out bothering people odds are you won't be bothered. This is a gorilla film tactic. In the court of law you have the first amendment right to shoot on public or federal property.
you just have to feel the situation out for your self some times because it can get messy trying to get peoples green light. But as other posters have stated the local film commission is your friend.
[Robert Trip] ". If you are on public property like at a park or street not obstructing people or property then no."
Try that in certain cities like, say, Las Vegas and see how far it gets you. You'll be enjoying a lengthy chat with bicycle police that swoop in on you in no time flat... demanding to see your permit for shooting in that park or on that city street.
State film commissions can, yes, be very helpful as to pointing you to the info you need. However, actual film permits are almost exclusively the purview of individual cities.
That's an easy call to the city hall in whatever city you are shooting in. In the vast majority of cases, unless you are shooting in a city where a lot of production regularly goes on, then no actual permits are needed.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
I'm aware of the issues, but when your shooting gorrilla style you just have to go with your gut. Unless you have the budget and the time then go get all the permits you want. It really depends on what your shooting. I know what the law states and while the cops love to stop "Filmmakers" on the streets there is nothing they can do about the public taking random photographs. trick is just to blend in if you want that shot. Trust your gut take risks make magic. :)
First, its "guerilla style". The other kind just flings poo.
But seriously, while you might just "go for it" and "get away with it", the problem that comes up later is, when you want to show this commercially or at a festival, and you can't show paperwork for the clearances you dodged. I don't know what would be more frustrating: not getting a shot that day, and figuring out some legit alternative shoot, or getting thru the entire production, all the time and effort and money spent, only to find the only place you can legally screen it is... your mom's basement rec room.
If you have no larger ambition for the work, then maybe the casual approach works for you. But this is a business we're in. I know of Hollywood pros who dodged the permit cops a time or two, long ago. They don't tell those stories as how-tos though; they're cautionary tales of reckless times.
Believe me I totally hear you. However, when it comes to the court of law we still have the first amendment. and if we are shooting on public property regardless if we make money or not we have every right to just as news reporters have that right. I will bet my own lively hood on it. Now if I have a 50 million dollar film on the line then sure cover your arse. But that's where the film commission comes in. Case point Bumb fights. they did every thing legal and as risky as the content was they still won in court. the reality is everyone wants a peace of the pie. If you can get away with it then great. But doing things "the right way" is usually more expensive. My question to you is do you want to make the film or not? and does the risks out way the benefit. at the end of the day you have to go with your gut. But I will say this if your on private property you better have the right paperwork.
[Robert Trip] "However, when it comes to the court of law we still have the first amendment."
Which has nothing to do with this.