Professional filming on private property in East Hampton may soon require a permit under proposed amendments to a town law.
“The current [film permit] law does not apply to private property, so that whether it’s a small fashion shoot or a major film production, the town doesn’t issue permits and the law doesn’t require permits for that activity on private property,” Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said during a Jan. 17 town board work session where the amendments were introduced.
Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski has said that town officials have become concerned about productions such as Bravo’s new “Summer House” reality show. He said the show was able to film on private property in Amagansett without any local official approval because none was required even though productions can create public-safety and quality-of-life issues.
“The basic premise of this is to require now that those activities obtain a permit primarily for public safety,” Cantwell said. “In many cases, this activity does end up overflowing to some extent and having an impact on a residential area or public street.”
Assistant town attorney NancyLynn Thiele, who presented a draft of proposed changes to the board members, added the new requirements would make sure activities within a production are safe.
“Nothing about this permitting process is to halt any kind of filming or to infringe upon the business of filming,” Thiele said. But “if there was a photo shoot that included a huge bonfire on the beach, we’d certainly want to know that and have that regulated.”
Cantwell said that having a permit requirement for private property also ensures that no zoning laws are violated and cited the potential for private homes to be used more for filming than by residents.
“When does it cease to be a single-family residence and become a commercial studio?” Cantwell asked. “This will give us a clear way to track that.”
Permit fees would be set by resolution of the town board at a later date. No public hearing on the amendments has been scheduled.
Jenny Landey, who has an East Hampton-based production company that offers still photography, asked the board members to consider retaining the current allowance to apply for a permit within seven days of production and having different requirements for still photography, film and television shoots.
The proposed requirement that permits be obtained 14 days before production “is such that it would effectively put us out of business,” Landey said. When she gets a call from clients such as Vogue, Victoria’s Secret or Pottery Barn wanting to film in the Hamptons, typically they’re only given a few days’ lead time and “seven days has been manageable,” she said.
Cantwell said her requests would be taken into consideration.
The changes would not affect news media filming, which does not require permits.