Monthly Archives: January 2012

City of Cape Town’s unworkable film permit system

As many Cape Town photographers, will or should know the city is clamping down on public photo-shoots, requiring that photographers apply for permits to be allowed to shoot with models in public spaces, regardless of the nature of the shoot.

While I understand why the city wants to have control, the current system has a number of flaws, especially when it comes to non-commercial shoots with just a model and a photographer or a small team.

With the current process, we have to apply online, which I have no issue with in principal, however we can only apply during normal working hours, we need to specify a location and we need to wait up to 48 hours for the application to be approved.

This is an unacceptable and unworkable situation as many of our test and smaller shoots are last-minute and often require last-minute location changes.

There are only two options that I can see be workable.

1)      The first choice would be that small shoots with 4 or fewer people and minimal gear are exempt for requiring a permit to shoot but will need to comply with the following:

  1. The City will publish a daily list of all “authorised” shoots which will have preference over small shoots with no permits.
  2. These shoots will be listed as “no access”, “restricted access” or “ask permission” from the permit holder and all small shoots will need to comply with the conditions.

2)      This probably will not suit the city due to the requirement that the photographers need to have Public Liability insurance so the second option is that the city must provide a 7 day per week permit approval process, free of charge, with a minimal turnaround time, say not exceeding 12 hours. This option still restricts the freedom to change locations at the last-minute but I am sure we can learn to live with it.

If the issue is solely one of indemnity then why doesn’t the city start a certification process whereby photographers have to signup once a year for a city photo permit that give them Public Liability insurance through the city, indemnifies the city and will cost far less for the city to administer than the permit process they currently have in place?

Given that the City does not want to engage in debate with us over this I would suggest that we as Cape Town photographers organise a mass protest on one of the beaches and continue with these until the city adopts a workable system…

Update 30th January 2012

This raising of this issue has received a lot of support from the Cape Town Photographic community during the last 24 hours discussions have raised the following points:

  • Given the number of small and test shoots that happen during the week, the film office is going to be swamped if all small shoots are to be permitted and will not be able to cope with the load.
  • Many of Cape town’s occupants use public spaces for activities like:
    • Cycling
    • Roller blading
    • Beach Cricket
    • Skate Boarding
    • Running
    • Playing with Frisbees
    • Flying Kites
    • Surfing
    • Kite surfing

Some of these activities pose a risk to the public but the participants are not required to register and produce proof of Public Liability insurance, so it is prejudicial to photographers to expect them to have to.


Update 2nd February 2012

I just spoke to the manager of the film office at the City of Cape Town and while the City has been consulting with professional bodies, like SAAP, these are production companies who do not represent or necessarily understand the needs of individual photographers. The City will not engage us individually so we need to form a association so that our voices are heard. In this light, I hereby launch the Cape Town professional Photographers Association.

Please email me on Email CTPPA and include the following:

That you wish to join the CTPPA and for it to appoint representatives to represent you by engaging with the City towards finding a workable solution to the film permit issue.

Please let everyone know about this as we need to start talking to the City now due to the fact that it could take months to change City policy.