I would really like to know what the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting has been smoking. In case you haven't heard, MOFTB is working on new regulations in New York City to control photography and filmmaking in the city -- a decision that is inciting protest. What sort of regulations, you ask? Get this: the rules would require that any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a public place for more than a half hour, or a group of five or more people who want to use a tripod for more than 10 minutes (including set-up time), would need a city permit and a flipping $1 million liability insurance policy. Oh so generously, the permits would be free.

This presents a two-fold problem. More encompassing -- it will hurt the independent film industry and individuals who cannot afford that liability insurance, and as many filmmakers argue, free speech. Filmmaker Jem Cohen says: "I'm shocked that the very first sentence of the Bill of Rights can quickly become meaningless, because photography is an established form of free speech." (He is no stranger to indie problems -- he once had film shot from an Amtrak train window on the way to Washington seized by federal agents.) These regulations will interfere with small-scale photo shoots and filmmaking -- even something as simple as an interview with someone on the streets of the city.

While officials say that these rules aren't intended for tourists, or amateur filmmakers/photographers -- come on! Who is to judge when they are amateur? Will tourists have to buy badges that say, in big letters, "TOURIST?" Under the current wording, if you go to Central Park, set up a tripod with a few friends, and try to capture some pictures of wildlife, you'd better be pretty speedy. If you want to grab your hand-held and take video of your trip, you best be taking that trip alone, and not with a group of people, because then you'd need $1 million insurance and a permit. Excuse me, I must go bang my head against the wall.

[via indieWIRE]
categories Movies, Cinematical