Filming in NYC

The Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting:

The Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, created more than forty years ago, is dedicated to working with filmmakers as they shoot on location in New York City. Now a part of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, the Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting continues to be the one-stop shop for all production needs in the City, providing premier customer service – including free exterior locations, police assistance and parking privileges. The office is an advocate for all kinds of productions, from major feature films and television series to commercials, music videos, documentaries, student films and red carpet premieres. In addition, the local entertainment industry employs 100,000 New Yorkers and generates over $5 billion to the City’s economy each year. We also offer the “Made in NY” logo, a mark of distinction awarded to projects which shoot 75 percent or more in New York City; the “Made in NY” marketing credit, which provides free co-branded advertising for projects that shoot here; and the “Made in NY” Discount Card Program with discounts for productions at hundreds of local businesses.

The MOFTB Permit:
Our permit forms are available to download from our website: www.nyc.gov/film
Please visit the site for permit forms as well as current information about production in New York City.

How Shooting With Our Permit Works:
The permit we issue to your production provides access to City-owned exterior locations and location parking for essential production vehicles throughout 300 square miles of public settings in the City’s five boroughs, including 27,000 acres of City parks. When your project is shooting at an exterior location and requires traffic control, re-routing, work in the street, or a scene with guns or uniformed police, you must have the special NYPD Movie & TV Unit on the location. The police unit will assign its officers at no charge to you. All decisions with respect to what is permitted are made by OFTB, working in close consultation with the NYPD Movie & TV Unit and other key city agencies as necessary. Since August 2008, rules have been adopted by the OFTB which determine when a permit is and is not required when shooting on City property.

When a Permit Is Required:
A permit is required for filming if equipment or vehicles are used or if the person filming asserts exclusive use of City property. Equipment does not include hand-held devices (such as hand-held film, still, or television cameras or videocameras) or tripods used to support such cameras, but a permit is required in certain situations when the person filming asserts exclusive use of City property while using a hand-held device. Effective June 2010, OFTB has implemented a $300 fee for the processing of the initial application of any new project. A new project account application, when submitted in connection with a required permit, must be accompanied by a non-refundable fee of $300, paid in the form of a certified check or money order and made payable to “New York City Department of Finance.” An applicant may make a request for a waiver of the fee, which must accompany the application when submitted. OFTB shall have the authority to waive such fee where the applicant is able to demonstrate unreasonable hardship.

Liability Insurance
Liability insurance is needed for those who obtain a required permit. However, when an applicant can demonstrate that obtaining the required insurance would impose an unreasonable hardship, OFTB may waive the need for liability insurance. In addition, student filmmakers can meet their liability insurance obligations through coverage under their school’s insurance program. In order for you or your organization to be eligible for a Motion Picture or Television Permit (a required permit), you must present to OFTB an original certificate of insurance, which is signed by the Broker’s Authorized Representative. Please see our website for the exact language that must be on the certificate, and for other insurance requirements and guidelines.

Filming in a DCAS Property
When a production requests to shoot in Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) properties, which includes various City buildings, such as the Manhattan and Brooklyn Municipal Buildings, all Borough Halls, and City and State Courts, a fee of $3200 shall accompany a permit submitted to the Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting. The fee should be in the form of a certified bank check or money order, payable to the “New York City Department of Finance.” Please note that this form of payment should be made separately from the new application fee.

When a Permit Is Not Required
A permit is not required for filming that uses hand-held cameras or tripods and does not assert exclusive use of City property. Standing on a street, walkway of a bridge, sidewalk, or other pedestrian passageway while using a hand-held device and not otherwise asserting exclusive use of City property is not an activity that requires a permit.

Optional Permits
When a permit is not required, it is possible to apply for an optional permit. A person wishing to apply for an optional permit would present much of the same documentation as someone seeking a required permit (e.g. request for dates, times and locations and contact information). Liability insurance is not required in connection with an optional permit. Sometimes there has been confusion as to whether or not a permit is required. As a result, and as an accommodation to filmmakers, OFTB has routinely issued permits in those instances where a permit is not required. The rules are consistent with this longstanding practice. There is no fee associated with an optional permit.

Pre-Production:
Very simple shoots of one or two days, or shoots of longer duration, which are walk-and-talk, and are not working in the street do not require police assistance. It is possible to get a permit for this type of project 48 hours before shooting, providing the insurance certificate and permit application are presented in good order before noon 48 business hours before shooting.

Pre-Production Meeting:
All feature films, television movies, series or specials, elaborate exterior commercial shoots and music videos doing exteriors with celebrities, multiple locations and/or playback, must have a preproduction meeting with the OFTB. It is recommended that this meeting be scheduled with the OFTB about three weeks before shooting, but must be scheduled no later than five business days before the shoot begins. The purpose of this meeting is to review shooting plans and production schedules. Participants generally include the production manager and location manager, as well as representatives from our office and other relevant agencies. Immediately following this main pre-production meeting at our office, you are ready to apply for a permit detailing the location activities. Permits can be issued within 48 business hours of application. The deadline for permit applications is two business days before your scheduled shoot. More complex productions require special consideration by the NYPD Movie & TV Unit, therefore applications must be submitted three to four days prior to the shoot date.

Parking Features of the Permit:
The permit provides for special parking privileges at working locations for vehicles essential to your shoot, defined as equipment trucks, lifts, cranes, campers and honeywagons. Crew and personal cars are not covered by the permit.

Special Permissions:
Any child under the age of 18 years must, by New York State law, have a permit to work in a film or television production. The New York State Department of Labor administers Child Performer Permits. Located at 345 Hudson Street, New York, NY, 10014, this office can be reached by phone at 212-775-3880. Further information is also available on the Department of Labor’s web site at www.labor.state.ny.us.

Special Effects:
Pyrotechnics, fire effects and explosions, including simulated and other smoke effects using a substance with a flash point of less than 400 degrees Fahrenheit, at both exterior and interior locations, require a prior inspection and the supervision at the shoot by the New York City Fire Department. Exceptional requests (i.e. removing a lamppost, building a stage) may require additional permits from another city agency. OFTB will advise you as to whom to contact in these cases.

Special Jurisdictions:
There are a few frequently requested locations within the City which are under the jurisdiction of other governmental bodies and are not available on the OFTB permit, and require special permits. Here are two major exceptions: In order to film scenes involving the use of subway stations, trains or buses, you must make arrangements well in advance, from one to five weeks or more, with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). The Transit Authority’s Special Events Unit will provide you with an estimated cost for your request. Other divisions of the MTA provide access to Grand Central Station and the Metro North and Long Island train lines. The Port Authority arranges shoots at all airports, the PATH trains to New Jersey, certain piers and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels to New Jersey.

General Location Assistance: For any location sites not directly available through our permit, the OFTB production unit has extensive contacts and will support your requests. This includes the MTA, the Port Authority, government buildings, parks and landmarks under state or federal jurisdiction, as well as many key, privately owned locations such as Rockefeller Center and most non-profit institutions, which have relationships to City government such as the American Museum of Natural History and Lincoln Center. When you start pre-production, we will provide additional details, and we will work with you to anticipate and resolve any problems that may arise. Please visit our website for current and detailed information about production in New York City at: www.nyc.gov/film

Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting
Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor
Katherine Oliver, Commissioner
1697 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
(212) 489-6710
(212) 307-6237 Fax
www.nyc.gov/film