Permits are something that I've always had mixed feelings about. Most of the time, I feel like they are used, simply, to make money for Film Commissions that are really only helpful to big budget productions. Today, that opinion was reinforced. In talking to the Phoenix Film Commission about shooting a scene at South Mountain (a state park), I was tasked with three things -
1.) a 100 dollar fee for the permit. This is not outrageous, and seems about on par with similar shooting permits.
2.) A Ranger must be paid to be in attendance during the shoot. They are paid 30 dollars an hour, for a minimum of 3 hours. While I think this is reasonable, for the most part, I can't help but wonder if a Ranger makes even close to 30 dollars an hour when he or she is just on the job.
But here's the kicker -
3.) A One MILLION dollar certificate of insurance must be submitted in order to get the permit. Now, hold up, don't freak out. The insurance policy doesn't COST a million dollars, it's just for a million dollars. However, this doesn't come cheap. To break it down, a scene, which we can probably shoot in less than two hours, will mostly likely require a full day of insurance. A full day of a million dollar policy could cost up to a thousand dollars. I can tell you right now, a thousand dollars for two hours of time is RIDICULOUS. Now, it will probably be less, but even a few hundred dollars for a few hours is ridiculous. What is a state park in Phoenix but some (beautiful) mountains, a lot of dirt, and some scrub? Don't get me wrong, the parks are gorgeous, but how could ANYONE do a million dollars worth of damage? What is the value of dirt and scrub bushes?
On top of that, I'm left to wonder, after all of the wild fire's in California, do the State Park's have insurance? I mean, let's be honest with each other, hundreds of people, maybe even thousands of people a month come through those parks. Do they ever check all of those people to make sure they have insurance? What if their point and shoot camera explodes and a spark from it scorches half of the park? That person, more than likely, does not have personal liability insurance that covers burning down a State or National Park. I don't know of anyone that does. What if someone is injured because of something that happens in the park? Is it not the park's liability to take care of that? And yet, I don't see an insurance certificate posted on the gate's when you drive in. You can camp there for a minor fee, have a fire for a minor fee, but you can't shoot a single scene, with three crew members, two actors, no lights or other extraneous equipment, without having a million dollars worth of insurance?
EPIC FAIL Phoenix Film Commission!