New York Film and TV Office Launches Online Permit System

Productions must submit applications at least 48 business hours in advance, with the new system, first used by "Gossip Girl," eliminating in-person visits to the city agency.

NEW YORK - The Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting here  has switched over to an online system for processing film permit applications this week.
All new productions are required to use the new online system to apply for new project accounts and submit location requests. Existing productions are also being transitioned to the Web destination.

Productions must submit applications at least 48 business hours in advance to ensure that permits and parking requests are processed and granted. Once a permit has been approved, productions receive an email that contains a link to its permit, which can be downloaded and printed.

Previously, productions had to visit the city's film and TV office in person to obtain permits.

"The new system is part of an ongoing effort to do business more effectively and efficiently and to streamline our services," said Katherine Oliver, commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. "More and more, time is money, so we wanted to simplify the process to eliminate in-person office visits and allow the industry to focus on producing films and TV."

Los Angeles launched an online permit system a few years ago. Why did it take longer in New York? Oliver said the Big Apple could finally move its permit process to the Internet now thanks to a citywide online initiative. "When I started in 2002, we were on electric typewriters and processing permits by hand," Oliver recalled.

While she quickly brought in computers and put more services online, she expects the new online permit system to bring further benefits to productions and her office. "We can save money for all and eliminate a lot of visits customers had to make previously," she said. "This streamlines the process for us and, more importantly, for them."

Other city activities also show up in the agency's online system, meaning the film office can more quickly spot potential conflicts between requested shoots and other events, such as street fairs. "We have 23 TV shows in New York City and many feature films, so this will help speed up the process," said Oliver.

The new system will not lead to the abolition of a previously introduced $300 application fee for new productions though - something that most other cities have long charged productions.

"It won't be waived, because we still need staff," Oliver explained. "The new online system simplifies the process, but we still need to pay people to process and liaise with other [city] agencies."

Gossip Girl was the first production to use the online permit system, according to her office.


Twitter: @georgszalai