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Old 12-03-2017, 11:35 PM   #1
ForestImp
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State park, no permit: busted after film release?

Most of what you see/hear regarding filming without permits has to do with the concern of being caught in the act. But does anyone know how often filmmakers catch heat AFTER the film has already been released?

Let's say a...ehem...friend of mine filmed a quick scene for a low budget Youtube video in a national park with no permit. 2-person crew, 1 actor 1 cameraman, no one else around. In and out in 10 minutes, nothing risky/dangerous.

Shooting wraps a month later and film is uploaded to Youtube.

Video goes viral and gets 10 million views in the first month.

What's the likelihood of some bored park ranger seeing the film, recognizing the park, and investigating whether the shoot was permitted or not? Anyone know of cases where a filmmaker was investigated/prosecuted after a guerrilla shoot, particularly on state/federal property like national/state parks or forests? I know they have gone after people who upload drone footage, but that may be because the word "drone" is usually in their titles and their videos are therefore easy to find.

My, er, friend is wondering if he should just take his chances or maybe go ahead and get a permit now and just use it to cover what he already filmed.
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Old 12-04-2017, 01:05 AM   #2
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I know of two recent mid-budget releases (~$20m budget) that shot small sections without permits throughout Los Angeles and NYC respectively.

As with the stock market, past performance is not an indicator of future performance so YMMV.
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Old 12-04-2017, 01:14 AM   #3
sfoster
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I've never heard of anyone being prosecuted after the fact just for videotaping.

the only stories I hear are from when a more serious crime was involved.. like videotaping yourself doing property damage or breaking and entering. that kind of stuff will get you in trouble but you have a very low chance of consequences for some harmless dialogue

take nothing but video and sound
leave nothing but footprints

those parks are there for us


I can tell you the last time I looked into getting a permit it was going to be around 2k and I needed to shut down a street or two
for a very quick shot mind you.... so I did it without any permits or anything at 4AM and it was free. No car traffic either because of the time.

worked out perfectly and I never once felt an ounce of stress that there might be some looming consequences. Instead I feel great that I saved money and got an amazing shot I wanted

Last edited by sfoster; 12-04-2017 at 01:18 AM.
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Old 12-04-2017, 01:24 AM   #4
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I've shot "gorilla" at a park for a National Monument and some people called park security on us because we were doing a fight scene along a cliff side. The security came up to us and gave us a fair warning and said we would normally need a permit. He let us finish our scene since he saw a camera and figured we were doing harmless stuff for Youtube.

Don't take my word for it, but if you aren't causing property damage or defaming the park, then you should be good.
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Old 12-04-2017, 01:39 AM   #5
ForestImp
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Interesting answers guys. I'm also wondering why the 4th/5th Amendment couldn't possibly be applied here. Say some government busy body sees your footage and recognizes the location is a national park. He would have to *assume* the filmmaker's guilt before taking any action. And the first action he would have to take is to contact the filmmaker and question him. So...why would the filmmaker be obligated to even talk to him and answer any questions?

Seems to me to be like a cop wanting to search your home or car. What reason does he have that you have something in there that shouldn't be there? We aren't supposed to be presumed guilty.
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Old 12-04-2017, 01:44 AM   #6
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By the way, this is what got...my friend's attention:



And this guy wasn't even commercial!
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Old 12-04-2017, 11:43 AM   #7
directorik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ForestImp View Post
So...why would the filmmaker be obligated to even talk to him and answer any questions?
Because of the 4th Amendment. Probable cause. This government busy
body sees your footage. They do not assume guilt, but they have cause
to ask.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sfoster View Post
I've never heard of anyone being prosecuted after the fact just for videotaping.
Me either. What crime is committed? What law broken? In order to be
prosecuted a crime needs to be committed.
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Old 12-04-2017, 12:40 PM   #8
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First of all you should probably look into when a permit is actually needed. It is legal to walk around with a camera and film things, for anyone. So what defines a production? Usually, any camera support on the ground (tripod), light stands, cables, etc. If you are totally handheld it may not even constitute a production.

You definitely do not need to worry about it after the fact. Relax. But to reduce that anxiety look into it, you may not even need one next time.
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Old 12-04-2017, 12:47 PM   #9
ForestImp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by directorik View Post
Because of the 4th Amendment. Probable cause. This government busy
body sees your footage. They do not assume guilt, but they have cause
to ask.
But that's just it - what IS the probable cause? What's the evidence that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a law has been broken? Just footage alone isn't evidence of wrongdoing - that has to be assumed. I mean, they can't watch every movie or TV show and just assume, without a REASON, that every location they see was shot without a permit, and then use this baseless suspicion as a premise for investigating whether those shoots were permitted.

It seems to me that the only real probable cause would be if the footage depicted dangerous/illegal activity which would not be allowed even with a permit. Then it would be safe to assume it was shot without a permit, since a lot of permits require monitors.

But I'm no lawyer.
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Old 12-04-2017, 01:01 PM   #10
ForestImp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indietalk View Post
First of all you should probably look into when a permit is actually needed. It is legal to walk around with a camera and film things, for anyone. So what defines a production? Usually, any camera support on the ground (tripod), light stands, cables, etc. If you are totally handheld it may not even constitute a production.

You definitely do not need to worry about it after the fact. Relax. But to reduce that anxiety look into it, you may not even need one next time.
Well, technically, any "commercial" shoot which takes place on public property requires a permit, regardless of the size of the production. But this "one size fits all" approach to the permitting process (and its cost) is, by most people's common sense standards, unfair and unjust. I read that to film anywhere in LA (even in one's own HOME) for commercial purposes (that means even doing a Youtube video that you monetize for a few google adsense pennies) requires a permit, and it can cost a whopping $700! Again, that's regardless of the size of the production/crew or type of equipment used.

This basically encourages smaller or even not-so-small productions to skirt permits.

I did some more research on it today, though, and I think I've found a loophole or two, one of which is right on the first page of the permit applications for National Parks. It says down at the bottom:

"RECORDS RETENTION: TEMPORARY. Destroy/delete 3 years after closure. (NPS Records Schedule, Resource Management and Lands (Item 1D)(N1-79-08-1))"

If that means what I think it means, good luck pulling my permit records for footage which will ALWAYS be over 3 years old if I'm asked.
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Old 12-04-2017, 01:04 PM   #11
directorik
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You aren't a lawyer but if you are serious with this line of thought it
would be wise to speak with one.

If you're just throwing out possibilities I'm open to playing devil's advocate.
I love exploring ideas and possibilities.

Do you really want to test this? Are you prepared for a government
busy body to show up at your door so you can challenge the governments
authority? You might be right and the government busy body will just
walk away. Or the Fed might just take you in as you shout protests
about your rights.
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Old 12-04-2017, 01:05 PM   #12
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I'm not a lawyer either but it seems to me that shooting without a permit is an infraction of the law or, maybe a misdemeanor. It isn't a copyright infraction or an issue of 'right to privacy'. Those might be separate issues depending upon what you are shooting... Again, I'm not a lawyer but I don't think anyone could stop you from showing your video. Personally, I would not worry too much about it. Low budget film makers have been scabbing locations forever.
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Old 12-04-2017, 01:08 PM   #13
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I had the police show up to two different shoots last month.. nosy people calling them in.
No one ever asked if we had a permit.

One cop said we had every right to be there as much as the next guy
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Old 12-04-2017, 01:08 PM   #14
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Guerrilla filmmaking is not for the paranoid.

/of story
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Old 12-04-2017, 01:10 PM   #15
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I once HAD permits but due to rearranging the shoot the days didn't match the locations. Shit happens even when you try to do it right.
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