Passed into law last October by the Los Angeles City Council, the new ordinance revised section 41.20 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) to make it a misdemeanor offense for production companies to film without a permit or engage in activities not covered by their permits.
Revising section 41.20 also introduced consequences for those who would intentionally disrupt a duly-permitted film shoot or other special event.
With the amount of filming that has occurred in this town over the last century, it may be hard to believe there historically has not been much legal recourse in either situation. Without an LAMC section to cite and without film-specific training for police officers, there was no standard for handling incidents of illegal filming or intentional interference with film crews.
Testifying recently before the City Council’s Jobs and Business Development Committee, Lieutenant Ray Garvin of LAPD’s Contract Services Section Film Unit discussed the importance of the new ordinance in bringing balance to L.A. communities. Garvin indicated that his unit has already made arrests and filed charges against film producers and community members for section 41.20 violations.
A citizen-captured video of one such arrest is even making the rounds on YouTube, although much of the situation run-up appears to be missing from the clip.
Some L.A. filmmakers hope that the new ordinance will help reduce exploitative demands for filming-related compensation. Claims of filming-related loss of business are a common cause of conflict between film companies and L.A. business owners.
Others, however, are just happy to see the LAPD take a stand against illegal filming.
“Filming without a permit causes unnecessary grief for local communities because it circumvents basic neighborhood protections,” said FilmL.A. President Paul Audley. “Community members rightly expect to receive an advance Notice of Filming and want to be able to share their concerns about filming before it happens. Illegal filming of any kind shuts down the dialogue, and that undermines the balance we strive to bring to local neighborhoods.”