Location Scout MOFTB News

New York City Mayor's Office of Film, Theater & Broadcasting (MOFTB)

For a New York City area Location Scout

…the doin’s of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater & Broadcast (MOFTB) are ALWAYS of interest and relevant to our job description, being as MOFTB is the end point for obtaining film (& photo / video) permits and MOFTB more or less sets / maintains policy for any filming to be done in NYC, especially if it involves city / public property in any way; in any case, they are always a first call for advice and permits when a shoot is to take place in New York City.

So, here, as a companion to Location Scout Resource: MOFTB Pages is a post updated on a continuing basis of miscellaneous news items and other bits regarding MOFTB.


New York City Mayor's Office of Film, Theater & Broadcast (MOFTB)

New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater & Broadcast (MOFTB)

Location Scout Resource: New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcast (MOFTB) publishes a monthly newsletter

which features news about the film office as well as other news of interest to the film and tv production communities.

I particularly like the regular Location of the Month section of each month’s newsletter, in which a city-owned property (such as perhaps a building) or park or New York City neighborhood which may be available as a filming location is highlighted.

The City of New York makes many properties available for filming at no or nominal cost in the interest of promoting filmmaking and economic development for the city.

Use of the various properties is often directly administrated through specific city government agencies depending on the property(s) in question, however, the film office can be quite helpful in directing filmmakers to the appropriate agency.

The current newsletter may be read online by following the link above; free subscriptions via email are offered as well.

  • Other MOFTB news / multimedia items are available here.

NYC MOFTB Online Permits

NYC MOFTB Online Permits

Location Scout Industry News: NYC MOFTB Online Film Permits

The New York City Mayors Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB) recently announced a new online film permit system to be implemented in the near future as well as interactive training sessions offered free of charge for the purpose of assisting location scouts, location managers and other production professionals to become familiar with using the new system.

The New York City Mayors Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB) | MOFTB Introduces Online Permits with Interactive Training Sessions | February 1, 2008

With the launch of the new online permit system in the coming weeks, the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting is conducting free training sessions for our customers.
The online permit technology boasts a step by step, user friendly interface that allows customers to apply for film and television scouting, rigging and shooting permits electronically. Beginning in February, the MOFTB will conduct various training sessions in an effort to familiarize our customers with the new online permit format.


MOFTB - New DCAS Fees

MOFTB – New DCAS Fees

Old Location Scout News: New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) Now Charging $3200 Fee

Location Scouts / Location Managers and Producers: NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) now charges a $3200 location fee for use of DCAS properties (i.e. courtrooms, other areas inside DCAS buildings such as hallways, offices, etc.).

From the MOFTB website:

Department of Citywide Administrative Services Adopts Rules Governing Filming and Photography in DCAS Properties

November 25, 2009 – The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and its predecessor City agencies have for more than twenty years allowed and supported film production activities on properties and within facilities under the jurisdiction of the agency. Given the frequency and complexity of filming activities by both amateurs and professionals, it has become necessary to codify the process that has been followed over time.

DCAS has adopted rules that govern filming and photography conducted on properties and within facilities under its jurisdiction, which require permits from the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting. These properties and facilities include various City buildings, such as the Manhattan and Brooklyn Municipal Buildings, all Borough Halls, and City and State Courts.

In order to conduct film or photography shoots in DCAS properties and facilities, DCAS approval must first be obtained prior to obtaining a required permit from MOFTB. Forms and documents required for DCAS review and approval must be submitted to the DCAS Film Office no later than four business days prior to the date on which prepping or rigging for shoots is set to commence.

Upon approval, a non-refundable fee of $3,200.00 shall accompany any application submitted to MOFTB for a required permit for filming or photography in DCAS properties and facilities. The fee shall be in the form of a certified bank check or money order, payable to the New York City Department of Finance.

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MOFTB: DCAS Charging Fees

MOFTB: DCAS Charging Fees

Old Location Scout News: New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) Now Charging $3200 Fee

Heads up, all you Location Scouts / Location Managers and Producers: NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) now charges a $3200 location fee for use of DCAS properties (i.e. courtrooms, other areas inside DCAS buildings such as hallways, offices, etc.).

From the MOFTB website:

Department of Citywide Administrative Services Adopts Rules Governing Filming and Photography in DCAS Properties

November 25, 2009 – The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and its predecessor City agencies have for more than twenty years allowed and supported film production activities on properties and within facilities under the jurisdiction of the agency. Given the frequency and complexity of filming activities by both amateurs and professionals, it has become necessary to codify the process that has been followed over time.

DCAS has adopted rules that govern filming and photography conducted on properties and within facilities under its jurisdiction, which require permits from the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting. These properties and facilities include various City buildings, such as the Manhattan and Brooklyn Municipal Buildings, all Borough Halls, and City and State Courts.

In order to conduct film or photography shoots in DCAS properties and facilities, DCAS approval must first be obtained prior to obtaining a required permit from MOFTB. Forms and documents required for DCAS review and approval must be submitted to the DCAS Film Office no later than four business days prior to the date on which prepping or rigging for shoots is set to commence.

Upon approval, a non-refundable fee of $3,200.00 shall accompany any application submitted to MOFTB for a required permit for filming or photography in DCAS properties and facilities. The fee shall be in the form of a certified bank check or money order, payable to the New York City Department of Finance.

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MOFTB $300 Permit Application Fee

MOFTB $300 Permit Application Fee

Location Scout Industry News – $300 NYC MOFTB Permit Fee

Location Scouts / Location Managers and Producers take note (from the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB) website):

Important Information Regarding Required Permits, Optional Permits, the New Project Application Fee, and Liability Insurance

In July 2008, the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting adopted rules governing the issuance of permits in connection with filming activity in New York City. The adopted rules outline the practices of the MOFTB, codifying the procedures that have existed since the office was established in 1966. In June 2010, MOFTB adopted an amendment to those rules regarding the implementation of a $300 fee for the processing of the initial application of any new project.

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You will also notice that NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) now charges a $3200 location fee for use of DCAS properties (i.e. courtrooms, other areas inside DCAS buildings such as hallways, offices, etc.).


MOFTB - New Rules

MOFTB – New Rules

Location Scout Industry News: New Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting (MOFTB) rules in effect

NYC.gov – Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting – Production News | Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting Adopts Permit Rules | July 14, 2008

Commissioner Katherine Oliver of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB) today announced the adoption of rules governing the issuance of permits in connection with filming activity in New York City. The rules, which were published today in the City Record and will go into effect thirty days after publication on August 13, will require a permit if filmmakers use vehicles or equipment, or, in certain situations, assert exclusive use of City property. Permits will not be required for casual photographers, tourists, credentialed members of the media, or other members of the public who do not use vehicles or equipment or assert exclusive use of City property. The adopted rules outline the practices of the MOFTB, codifying the procedures that have existed since the office was established in 1966.


Location Scout Industry News – New York City Mayors Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB) Proposed Permit Rules

MOFTB Proposed Rules

MOFTB Proposed Rules

Lots of changes have been in the works at the New York City Mayors Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB), not the least of which is an apparent effort to actually place into city code many of its normal policies and practices, which potentially impacts location scouts and other production personnel.

MOFTB has had a number of policies and “ways of doing things” in place for some time – if you are a location scout or location manager and have ever been to MOFTB in person or spoken on the phone with any of the staff at MOFTB, then you will probably agree that MOFTB is already somewhat structured and organized. MOFTB currently typically processes hundreds, if not thousands of film, video and photo permits every year and while I can’t say I’ve necessarily agreed with or personally benefited from every single decision made by MOFTB with regard to my own permit request(s), there is something about the lawsuit mentioned below that somehow doesn’t feel quite “right” to me. That said, the new rules proposal appears to attempt to avoid possible misunderstandings in the future.

Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting Issues New Draft of Proposed Permit Rules, Public Comment Period and Hearing Scheduled (October 29, 2007):

The decision to codify procedures came as part of a settlement of a recent lawsuit brought by an individual represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). By codifying existing procedures as a rule, MOFTB has endeavored to meet the challenge of identifying a threshold level of activity which necessitates a film permit, while at the same time substantially mirroring its current practices.


MOFTB Redrafting Rules

MOFTB Redrafting Rules

Location Scout Industry News: Redrafting of NYC MOFTB Rules

Lots of changes afoot at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting (MOFTB), begun this past year and likely to continue well into 2008 that involve a rewrite of many rules that include potential easing of some film permit requirements and other changes.

Lots of news about this currently ongoing process can be found elsewhere on the web, including:

  1. August 3, 2007 – Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB) Commissioner Katherine Oliver today announced that MOFTB will redraft proposed Charter-mandated rules for issuing permits to film or photograph on public property. The revision of the rules will take into account feedback MOFTB has received over the past two months. Public comment, which is scheduled to end today, will be re-opened for another 30-day period after the redrafted rules are published.

  2. October 29th, 2007Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB) Commissioner Katherine Oliver today announced the release of a newly drafted permit rule proposal, which is available online and published in the City Record. Under the proposed rules, which are designed to codify procedures that have existed in practice since the office was established in 1966, a permit would be required for a shoot if production equipment or vehicles create an obstruction, but not for productions that only use hand-held cameras or tripods that don’t cause an obstruction. The publication of the new rules, which are subject to public comment, follows the MOFTB’s decision to redraft rules following an initial publication and comment period that was extended to August 3, 2007. A copy of the proposed rule and an accompanying executive summary and Q&A document explaining it are available on the MOFTB website at www.nyc.gov/film.

Elsewhere:


Crain's New York Business

Crain’s New York Business

City’s Film Business in a Cliff-Hanger?

Crain’s New York Business | Bigger fees, smaller incentives threaten boom | By Miriam Kreinin Souccar | October 18, 2009 5:59 AM

At least seven feature films, including Sex and the City 2 and Wall Street 2, and 16 television shows are shooting in New York right now. But the city’s lucrative production business could soon end up on the cutting room floor.

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NYC Parks

NYC Parks

Location Scout Note: New NYC Parks Film Procedure

It used to be when you wanted to film in New York City Parks (i.e. Central Park, Prospect Park (Brooklyn), etc, you had to do a little detective work to find the number for the manager of the park in question (short of having an (as far as I know) unpublished list of the different districts and the managers of the parks in those districts) and call that manager for verbal permission to film in the park which he/she managed.

Assuming you could track him/her down and get an answer to your request (this could traditionally sometimes take several days from my experience- woe if they were on vacation or otherwise out of the office) and get permission, you would then go to the NYC Mayors Office of Film, Theater and Broadcast (MOFTB) and add the location to your film permit.

Today, I called one of the park managers about filming in one the NYC Parks and got the ol’ voicemail, which instructed me to go to this webpage:

http://nyc.gov/html/dpr/html/film_shoot_form.html

So, I filled the form and submitted it over the internet. The form sent me an auto-email confirming my request and even assigned it a request number. The form goes to either a central party in charge of routing the requests, or possibly a database that automates this chore.

I’m keeping an eye on my email at this point waiting to get a response. *Follow-up Note*: The park manager that I needed an answer from called me for more details and approved my request within 24 hours.

Presumably, this form covers all the parks in the system. It seems a much more organized way to go about the Parks permitting procedure; it gives the park manager(s) a little breathing room to get their head in a space to deal with their request(s) instead of being bugged on the phone at inopportune times and/or having to scroll thru and listen to who knows how many voicemail messages to field filming requests in addition to what must be a myriad of other responsibilities that a New York City Parks Manager must have.

I’ll still have to take my permission (assuming they give me a green light for my request) to the permit office and add it to my Schedule “A”. It would be nice to be able to cut out this second step, but the two departments (the parks department and the permit office) need a way to talk to each other, so for now this a chore we’ll all have to live with.

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New York Location Scout to Lose Tag Priveleges - MOFTB

New York Location Scout to Lose Tag Priveleges – MOFTB

New York Location Scouts Lose Location Scouting Tags Privileges

MOFTB: Scouting Tag Program Discontinued

May 23, 2006- Effective June 30, 2006, the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting will no longer issue production scouting tags and all existing scouting tags will expire. Due to the success of the “Made in NY” tax incentive program, the City has accomplished its goal of attracting increased production business and employment for New Yorkers who work in the entertainment industry. In an effort to balance the needs of production and the communities in which they work, the MOFTB will no longer issue scouting tags. Easing the impact of parking upon neighborhoods will serve to keep locations film friendly, and allow the City to attract even more employment for our local entertainment professionals. The MOFTB will continue to issue tags to essential production vehicles with the shooting permit.

Moviefone News

Moviefone News

Cinematical | NYC Cuts Film Industry Perk

Posted Jun 13th 2006 8:01PM by Christopher Campbell | Filed under: Newsstand

Just when the city of New York is enjoying a surge in film production, hopefully cutting down on movies set in NYC but shot in Canada, a new decision is pissing off a lot of people in the movie business.

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Movie City News

Movie City News

The Reeler

Tag, You’re Out: NYC Location Scouts’ Parking Perks Revoked
June 13, 2006

AM New York’s Chuck Bennett today has the “latest” on the troubles affecting New York’s location scouts, whose liberal, city-sanctioned parking privileges will expire June 30–never to return. The news is kind of old–the Mayor’s Office for Film, Theater and Broadcasting made the announcement May 23–but in case you wanted to hear location scouts bitching on the record, here you go:

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Associated Press

Associated Press

New York Location Scouts to Lose Scouting Tag Priveleges (dead link)

By SARA KUGLER, Associated Press Writer Tue Jun 13, 8:11 PM ET

NEW YORK – Film scouts trolling New York City for its picturesque stoops and street corners won’t be free to park wherever they want now that officials are halting a special parking-permit program.

I was interviewed by phone today (but evidently, not quoted by name) by Sara Kugler from WABC-Radio in New York City. Here is some of what we discussed and points I tried to make:

Looks like we location scouts might be losing our location scouting tag priveleges come July.

“And what exactly is a location scouting tag privelege?”, you say?

Well… upon completing a New York City filming permit application at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcast (MOFTB), requesting scouting tag(s) and approval of MOFTB, location scout(s), (for the duration of time allotted on the permit) have considerable leeway and freedom to park anywhere in the five boros in order to see locations with potential for use in their production.

This is indeed a gift in a city the size and density of New York. Public parking is scarce at best and fraught with not only arcane parking restrictions, but sometimes those arcane parking restrictions are obscured further by the fact that the parking signs that contain those arcane parking restrictiction are, in fact, often absent, whether it be by theft/vandalism, perhaps having been in a spot where an auto accident occurred… there are a lot of reasons a parking sign could be missing in a town the size of NYC.

The location scouting tag basically gives you the privelege to park wherever you can (with the intention of performing your duties as a location scout), provided you dont place human life in jeopardy (i.e. obvious no-no’s like parking in front of a firehouse driveway, or in an ambulance exitway) and be immune to the city’s ubiquitous “Brownies” (NYPD Traffic Enforcement) and the quite pricy parking citations they are employed to hand out (the last parking ticket I got some years back cost something like $85). If you receive a ticket, you turn it in with your scouting tag- it goes away.

Doctors and foreign diplomats, as well as some members of the press (this could be an incomplete list) are eligible for many of these same priveleges.

Alas, reports of abuses as well as the fact (per the excerpted article above) that the city has achieved its filming incentive goals combined with the undebatable fact that parking in New York is scarce in the first place may spell the end to scouting tag priveleges for NYC location scouts.

I had a scouting tag once; I was working on a feature film, 9A several years go. The shooting schedule was tight, we were facing significant challenges regarding fulfilling locations required by the script, including scouting for night shots (at night) in what most would consider “less than desirable” parts of town; the scouting tag helped. A lot.

Another argument for continuing the scouting tag privelege in NYC:

New York is a world-class city. Some of the world’s most famous films (including tv shows, commercials, videos and photgraphs) have been made in NYC.

As a location scout, one of the reasons you live in the NYC area is to have an opportunity to work on projects of this caliber.

It is not unreal to assume that you could, in fact, find yourself driving around NYC (showing locations) in the same car together with an Oscar-winning director or acclaimed director of photography, a producer you just read about in a tabloid and a bazillion-dollar net-worth executive producer or financier, with the power between them to give the nod or say no to bringing $100 million or more in jobs or business to the city. (This is “economic development”. It’s good for cities. Production is good at that. And production doesnt pollute the air and water.) Anyway, I am sure you can see the motivation to let these people feel special and get their jobs done quickly and easily.

In contrast, the film industry has changed a lot in the past few years, nowadays, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller budget films in production in New York each year, thanks to the advent of the internet and digital imaging, which have effectively taken content distribution out of the hands of a few big-money players and put it into the hands of anyone with a passion to tell a story and can afford a camera, a crew, talent and their locations. Individually, these types of productions dont always spend that much, but as the sum of the parts, this group represents a sizable chunk of change in New York’s annual production income. It is this group that will be most affected by the scouting tag change, as they will have to figure into their budgets that their scouts will either have to pay for parking or for parking tickets. New York is already a fairly expensive town just to exist in, period; discontinuing the location scouting tag privelege could be one of many ways that production might have an incentive to go elsewhere. This is what is known as “runaway production”

It’s a couple of more weeks till the scouting tag priveleges are scheduled to go away. It’s been good.