Government

Plainfield Seeks Fees, Approvals For Making Films

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Woody Harrelson, here on Crescent Avenue, in "The Messenger," an independent film that tells the story of one American soldier. Shooting took place May 22, 2008 at Viola's Place & Columbia Apartments. Credits: Bernice Paglia
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PLAINFIELD, NJ - Filmmakers have sought out Plainfield locations for years, and now the city intends to formalize the process with a film permit ordinance that includes fees and public safety approvals.

The City Council will consider final passage of the ordinance (MC 2017-27) at tonight’s agenda-fixing session, 7:30 p.m. in City Hall Library, and may approve it at the regular meeting on Sept. 11.

Mayor Adrian O. Mapp commented on the reason for the new  film permit ordinance.

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“It is the intention of the Ordinance to cover any filming which requires significant equipment to be used in a public place,” Mapp said.

“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.

“Therefore, if the filming in question requires equipment such as cameras, scaffolding, backdrops, or lighting, it would most likely require a permit.  We encourage anyone who is considering filming in Plainfield to consult with the City Clerk before doing so.”

Past films, including “Kinsey,” “Basket Case” and “The Messenger” have received one-time approvals for use of city locations. In 2008, actor Woody Harrelson could be seen in the Crescent Area Historic District with a full crew to shoot scenes for “The Messenger,” as detailed in a Plainfield Plaintalker blog post.

Independent filmmaker Lamar Mackson of Nonstop Entertainment said he had not heard about the proposed ordinance, but will be looking into it. He described Plainfield as having both urban and suburban locales, historic architecture and parkland that can be used for film sites.

More recently, web videos have been filmed in Plainfield, including a series titled “Every City, Every Hood,” which can be seen on YouTube. It is unclear whether such online videos will fall under the new regulations, but as Mapp noted, producers should check ahead of time with the City Clerk's office.

If moved to the Sept. 11 agenda, the ordinance will be up for final passage at the City Council’s regular meeting on that date, 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

 

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