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class="Paragraph" Grabbing Airport Shots

Published : 5th March 2004


I would be reluctant to "grab" shots at LAX or any other major airport. From the files of "I cannot substantiate, but could be true." Someone told me that a friend was out shooting a non permitted establishing shot at LAX. They were held for some time then released. The next time he flew, his name came up on a list for shooting non-permitted surveillance at an airport. Part of the "Homeland Security Act." He was taken into a room, searched and he missed his flight.

Tom Jensen



>I would be reluctant to "grab" shots at LAX or any other major airport.

How much red tape is involved in shooting anything at airports like LAX? Here at my home town which is a major airport, but nothing like LAX, a phone call to the media liaison will get you in the terminal, but it takes a good bit more coercing (plus you'll need escorts)to get on the concourses or anywhere else.

Marty Hamrick
photojournalist/cinematographer
WJXT TV
Jax., Fl



Marty Hamrick writes :

>How much red tape is involved in shooting anything at airports like >LAX?

We shot last week at JFK in NYC. You definitely need to have the approval of the airline or airport administration. We had a liaison with Jet Blue Airlines and she was able to get us clearance and accompany us to shoot in various areas. BUT we did have to go through employee security to shoot in the gate areas or on the plane. We passed through the metal detector and all the cases for lighting and camera needed to be inspected on the conveyor belt X-ray machine. It was the same route the employees take so as not to have to wait in a long line. But be prepared for it still is a delay.

On a side note - even after going through all the security I did find myself on the plane cutting some gel with a box cutter (matte knife) when I realized the implications that it got through security unnoticed.

So much for Homeland Security.

Jim Sofranko
NY/DP



Jim Sofranko wrote:

>On a side note - even after going through all the security I did find >myself on the plane cutting some gel…

That post is going to cost you a little visit from your friends who work for Mr. Ridge...

Jeff Kreines



>On a side note - even after going through all the security I did find >myself on the plane cutting some gel

>That post is going to cost you a little visit from your friends who work for >Mr. Ridge...


But it is an interesting situation. How could the authorities expect us to do out job in the air over their airport without a Swiss Army Penknife - otherwise known to them as a "Swiss-designed compact assault weapon"

Regards

Laurie K. Gilbert s.o.c.
Motion Picture Director of Photography
HD Cinematographer
www.limage.tv



Jim Sofranko wrote:

>...On a side note - even after going through all the security I did find >myself on the plane cutting some gel with a box cutter (matte knife)...

That raises a good question: If you are filming in those areas what do you cut your gel with, if not a knife, scissors, or other banned instrument? For that matter, if they are going to take away your cutting devices they'll also have to take away your screwdrivers, needle-nose pliers, and a number of other tools routinely needed.

If security had taken your tools would you complain that they were being unreasonable and inflexible and that production people in the care of an airline liaison person should be given some slack?

Just wondering.

Wade K. Ramsey, DP
Dept. of Cinema & Video Production
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC 29614



>How much red tape is involved in shooting anything at airports like >LAX?

I just spent this past weekend shooting in a small airport (Grand Rapids, Michigan). First of all we had to shoot at night, 8:00pm to 6:00am. They didn't want us there during the day. Next we did well in the general area but when it came time to shoot on the tarmac, at a gate and in a plane cargo hold, we had to deal with the local security company, the airport police and the TSA. Also we needed special permission from Northwest Airlines. We had two police officers with us at all times. We could not leave their sight. It was a difficult shoot logistically to say the least. We also got some unexpected rain to slow things down a bit more. The employees at the airport were great but there were many rules and regulations to follow. And this is a small airport (but also a training location for TSA which probably added to the difficulty). The production company had 5 weeks to prep. the job.

I wonder how much harder it would have been if they only had 2?

Andrew Hoehn
First Assistant Camera
Detroit, MI



Laurie Gilbert writes :

>But it is an interesting situation. How could the authorities expect us to >do out job in the air over their airport without a Swiss Army Penknife

I have a gel cutter from Lee that is a plastic disc with a metal blade embedded within a notch along the edge. The design makes it impossible to cut anything but gel or paper with it.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP



Mitch Gross wrote:

>I have a gel cutter from Lee that is a plastic disc with a metal blade >embedded within a notch along the edge.

Yes, that's a letter opener, good idea. Still, I wonder if airport security looked at it closely would they confiscate it for fear that it could be broken open and the blade extracted?

Wade K. Ramsey, DP
Dept. of Cinema & Video Production
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC 29614



I've been spending a lot of time at airports recently...

One of the most important things about filming around airports these days is to let everyone know what you are doing and exactly when you are doing it. Be sure to get the names of the people you talk to so you can get in touch with them or at least have a name when the inevitable question : "Who gave you permission?" comes up.

Depending on the location, airport security can involve a bewildering number of overlapping jurisdictions and "turf wars" among them. The authority you don't notify will undoubtedly be the one that gets the phone call from a concerned citizen about suspicious activity, and be the most annoyed about not being informed. They may decide to take that annoyance out on you. Also a lot of security people feel a need to show their superiors that they are doing their jobs.

Recently we had to film (I now try to avoid using the word shoot.) around Logan Airport in Boston. Logan Airport is on Boston Harbour, and it was from Logan that the two planes that were hijacked into the WTC towers had departed on 9/11/01.

Because of that fact, production was especially careful to notify everyone they could think of -- State Police, Boston Police, the Harbour Police, FAA, Logan Security, Homeland Security, FBI, TSA, various film commissions, the Mass. Aeronautic Commission, etc. We even had a Boston Police detail with us. Unfortunately, they had gone to secure parking at the next location when the one organization that hadn't been notified arrived in force. The US Coast Guard. When the Coast Guard Zodiacs and patrol boats arrived, we were detained -- at machine gunpoint. However, they were extremely polite: "Please keep your hands where we can see them." But these guys were not fooling around and were not very impressed by film permits. Things ended amicably but they were really annoyed that the Homeland Security people had not informed them of what we were doing.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a glass of wine and a digital camera with me at the time, or I could have had a real contender.


Brian Heller
IA 600 DP