Looking at visual culture
P.S. Don't you love the way the play button on the start screen is like a gag on the filmmaker? Not a coincidence...
utwordrAt PhotoExpo last year there was a lot of discussion about New York's photo permits. (I guess I look harmless enough because I've jumped right into packs of cops at Puerto Rico Day and in front of cops at other parades and never been interrupted.) From other people's descriptions, though, it sounded like tripods are the trigger. If you attempt to set up a tripod, you're considered a professional user of the city infrastructure and, as such, are fair game for taxation, in this case a shooting permit. The consensus in the crowd was that this isn't so much a 1st ammendment issue as it is a revenue producing mechanism designed to make sure professional photographers and cinematographers don't pass through town without contributing to the municipal till.
In fact, the city goes out of its way to make the big guys comfortable. Did you know that when a Hollywood production takes over a street in, say, Park Slope, the city sends cops with barricades for free? I got this from a producer who has made several features. The production company only pays for insurance & the residents aren't even consulted (I've heard you can raise hell & probably get a bribe from them). Anyway, these new regs might snag a few more small-time pros for a few dollars, but there are many thousands, like me & you, who basically make their money some other way but do video or photography as a very serious vital part of their life. we're getting screwed. I actually think Bloomberg is a fair-minded guy who has been good for New York, but on the subject of art he just doesn't get it. Businessman that he is, he thinks it's all about the money. It's not all about the fucking money! We have a right to shoot in public spaces unless we're disruptive (see above: those production companies shut down the streets, you can't GO there when they're shooting). Individuals or small groups making films shouldn't have to try to explain what they're doing to cops (again, I'm not a cop basher, but they are the WORST people in the city to make judgments on this stuff). To me, as the guy says in the video, This is just wrong. And I do think it's a big deal, both the idea of it & the practical implications. It's not just another little city hall shakedown.
I think the lack of proper public review and debate before enacting was the most disturbing aspect of this new rule. 30 minutes seems arbitrary.
I know what you mean about motion picture productions. Several years ago I wandered innocently onto a street where Woody Allen was shooting "Melinda and Melinda" just as they were getting ready to shoot an outdoor cafe scene. Grace was with me and would have been allowed to stand quietly where we were. But because I had a camera, a PA not-so-politely ushered us back around a corner so that my camera couldn't see the shoot. Meanwhile, I've laid down in the middle of the floor of the ticket hall at Grand Central and never been so much as approached by security. I recall hearing, though, that security's especially tight around Rockefeller Center.
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