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by Dana Harris
November 17, 2011 8:19 PM
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Should Film Students Pay the Same Permit Fees As the Studios?

Official logo for the City of New York Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting.
New York City film permits cost the same for a New School student film as they do for Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight." Think that's nuts? There's a petition for that.

Here's the details:

The current fee structure of 300 dollar per film permit fee is the same for a 100 million dollar studio backed picture as it is for a 500 dollar student film shoot. Student filmmakers are the future of filmmaking in the city and cannot afford to pay the same as a media conglomerate. To be fair, and support students, fees should be scaled so a picture with over a 60 million budget would pay a 10,000 fee, 20-60 million a 5,000 fee, 10-20 million a 2500 fee, 1-10 million a 1500 fee, a 0.5-1 million a 500 fee, less than .5 million a 200 fee, and student productions a 25 dollar fee. Thus the wealthy big budget films using the streets and city of New York are supporting student filmmakers and low budget indies that are their very own future. How many Hollywood Directors and Producers learned their craft as student filmmakers on the streets of New York? We need to support the future with a fair fee structure, not in effect a flat tax that penalizes the poor and favors the rich.

It's an interesting proposal -- but how far can it go? It seems ridiculous that the two entities pay the same fees, but the city seems unlikely to do anything that might dissuade studio productions from shooting in New York. (And is there any city or state that charges a $10,000 permit fee?)

In any case, let us know what you think. For the petition, the link's here. It will go to the City of New York Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting

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1 Comment

  • Brad | March 11, 2013 4:47 AMReply

    Nobody should have to pay for a filming permit, period. They serve absolutely no purpose but to employ an office of bureaucrats who process documents. Large studios pay millions to the city through insurance, having streets/parks/landmarks closed off for days, police department salary etc. They essentially pay for the permit as a formality because everybody has too. So if you want to talk about a subsidy, the major studios are well subsidizing the government well after that $300 is paid. You would be surprised how much the government makes off of collecting money from indie and student filmmakers, especially in New York. How is a tourist filming in a park any different than an filmmaker?Does this money that you pay to the permit office go to mitigating any damages you are causing when filming?? No. Filming permits are simply a cash grab by the government and are especially lucrative in major filming centers like New York, LA, Toronto and Vancouver.