Porn, Permits and the Penal System in LA!

Recently, with the condom law having already been adopted by the City of Los Angeles, the issue of obtaining permits to film within Los Angeles has become a hot button issue. Over the past month my office has received numerous phone calls indicating that the Los Angeles Police Department is spot-checking production companies to insure they indeed have film permits. All those reading this article should realize that commercial filming within the County of Los Angeles and especially within the City of Los Angeles requires a film permit secured from FilmLA ( http://www.filmla.com ). Failure to have a permit is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and confiscation of a producer’s production equipment. If you are outside of Los Angeles it is urged that you seek counsel and information as to whether your city or county require film permits. And to clarify, within Los Angeles, even those persons that webcam from home are required to have a permit to do so – any commercial filming requires a permit.

Prior to being able to obtain a film permit from FilmLA there are certain requirements that you must be aware of. I would strongly recommend that those interested in securing a permit thoroughly research the requirements by visiting FilmLA’s website and more importantly the link for filmmakers ( http://www.filmla.com/forms.php ). In order to obtain a permit in Los Angeles a production company will be required to obtain production insurance first. The City of Los Angeles requires total minimum Commercial General Liability coverage limits (per occurrence) of $1,000,000.00. Other cities have different insurance requirements therefore you should research where you will be shooting in order to determine what your specific insurance requirements are. While I am not endorsing one particular agent, Greg Zeboray has been working with adult entertainment production companies for years and does assist in securing production insurance for adult studios ( http://ins.zeboray.com/ ). A reputable insurance agent knowledgeable in regards to film permits will be able to provide valuable assistance.

Some cities and counties will also require that the production company have workers’ compensation insurance in addition to production insurance to be able to secure a permit. In order to secure workers’ compensation insurance within California you may call a broker or directly contact State Compensation Insurance Fund ( http://www.statefundca.com/ ). SCIF, for short, is a state owned and operated insurance company of last resort. Which means if a production company cannot secure workers’ compensation insurance from any other insurance company SCIF HAS to insure that company. If you have never secured workers’ compensation insurance before you may want to start your search with SCIF. Usually, a private insurance company will not insure a production company without a history of previous policies to investigate.

Whether you are producing in Los Angeles or in another jurisdiction it is highly recommended that you research and seek out advice as to the requirements of film permits and the possible penalties of shooting without a permit. In my career, I have been involved in several criminal cases where the basis of of the charges were the producer’s failure to secure a film permit. Usually most cases in Los Angeles are resolved with the payment of a fine and the defendant serving out a period of community service (such as collecting garbage in an orange jumpsuit on the side of a local highway). It is possible that if you are producing in a community where the production of pornography is not legal a district attorney may opt to prosecute a producer for not having a permit instead of other crimes which may be protected by the First Amendment.

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