PLAINFIELD, NJ - After hearing from veteran filmmaker Lamar Mackson, the Plainfield City Council has agreed to modify a proposed film permit ordinance to make it fairer for non-profit and independent producers.
In public comment at Tuesday’s agenda-fixing session, Mackson agreed that all producers should have insurance and hire off-duty police officers for safety, but said the proposed fees – up to $500 a day – were too high. Mackson also asked whether the administration had investigated such permits in other towns.
Mackson said he has worked on big-budget productions as well as independent films and called the fee structure “fatal” to small film outfits.
Corporation Counsel David Minchello said the city “came up with our own” ordinance and did not compare it to others. He said the ordinance, which would have been up for final passage on Sept. 11, can be revised but will have to be re-introduced on first reading and will then be up for final passage in October.
Councilman Cory Storch also said the council could “take a little more time” to revise the ordinance.
Mackson agreed to consult with Minchello and City Clerk Abubakar Jalloh on the revisions.
Past films, including “The Messenger” starring Woody Harrelson, have received one-time approvals for production using Plainfield locations.
Mackson said he recently set up a film location in the city, paying for insurance and police presence, but was shut down because someone complained. He had to pay staff again to work on another date, increasing his expenses.
Mayor Adrian O. Mapp said last week the rationale for a film permit ordinance was “to cover any filming which requires significant equipment to be used in a public place.”
“The purpose of this Ordinance is to ensure that the Administration, more specifically the Police Division, has notice of any filming taking place within the City. This notice would ensure that the film crew is operating in a safe place with minimal disruption to the public,” Mapp said.