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May 12, 2016

Paper Trials: Navigating L.A.'s Arcane Adult Film Permit Process

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of AVN magazine. Click here to see a copy of the digital edition. Adult scenes are shot in Los Angeles all year round, but only a very small number of them are shot legally. “What you are talking about?” you say. “Everyone knows that it’s legal to shoot porn in California and New Hampshire!” That’s correct, but to film any kind of entertainment in Los Angeles legally, you need a film permit. If you are caught by law enforcement shooting without a permit, you can be arrested and fined, and your equipment can be confiscated. There’s no doubt that most adult producers would prefer to do things legally and operate without the risk of having a shoot raided and shut down by the police. If that’s true, why do so few companies get permits? According to FilmLA, only 29 adult permits (to be more accurate, permits that were purchased for filming non-simulated intercourse) were purchased in 2015. One reason is that most companies have no idea how to get one. The adult film permit process is somewhat of a mystery. A Google search for “How to get an adult film permit in Los Angeles” provides almost no useful information. Much of what comes up are articles talking about how few adult film permits have been purchased over the last few years. So how do you get a permit? Some of the answers can be found at FilmLA.com. FilmLA is a privately held company that is responsible for issuing filming permits in the city of Los Angeles. This applies to all productions, not just adult. They have an online permit system that’s quite easy, once you have met all of their requirements. Meeting the requirements for the first time can be tricky and time consuming. You will need to be patient. The first thing you will need is proof of insurance. According the FilmLA website, “To begin processing your film permit application, you must provide us (FilmL.A.) with one Commercial General Liability or Comprehensive Form naming “FilmL.A., Inc.” as an “Additional Insured.” The certificate must include a thirty-day notice of cancellation provision (ten days for non-payment of the certificate premium). It must be obtained from an insurer admitted to do business in California or written through a California-licensed broker. Minimum coverage limits are as follows: $500,000 for still photography only, $1,000,000 for motion capture (filming).” So in other words, you are going to need to find an insurance broker and get a policy that covers you for things that can go drastically wrong on set. This will cost you somewhere between $2,000 to $3,000 a year. There are some insurance companies listed on the FilmLA site that are approved and familiar with the process. If you are shooting in an industrial building, you can skip to the next step. But if you are shooting in a residential neighborhood, you might need to do a neighborhood survey. That’s where you notify all the nearby residents that you are going to be shooting. Obviously as an adult producer, you don’t want this. Some of the ways to avoid doing the survey: Shoot between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., don’t shoot on weekends, and keep your shoots to one or two days. A full explanation can be found on the FIlmLA site. The next thing you will need is a Los Angeles County Heath Permit. According to FilmLA, “When the permitted film activities include “non-simulated sexual intercourse,” permit language is added to ensure that the activity must take place out of sight and earshot of the public, and that the production company must comply with the provisions of LA County Measure B.” In other words, if you are filming anything with intercourse in it, you will need a health permit. If there is no intercourse, you just need a regular film permit. The good news here is that at the moment, health permits are free! (This will change at some point in the future.) You can get one by calling the County Health Department at (323) 890-7801. As part of the health permit process, you will need to pass a “Bloodborne Pathogen Training” class. This class outlines procedures for how to reduce risk of workplace injuries from exposure to blood or OPIM (Other Potentially Infective Materials—OPIM includes sweat, saliva and vaginal fluids). If you Google “OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Training,” you can find a variety of online classes that can be completed in just a few hours and for under $50. The county will also send you a fill-in-the-blanks “Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan.” This is a document that you must fill out and submit to the county for approval. It lists all of your assigned personnel and procedures for your workplace related to employees who are exposed to blood and OPIM. Once you have submitted your Exposure Control Plan, it can take a few weeks to get it approved. So if you plan on shooting legally any time soon you are going to want to start this process as soon as possible. When your permit gets approved, a county health inspector will arrange a time to visit your set. They don’t want to be there while you are filming. They want to come out and make sure you have required items on set like cleaning supplies (for sanitizing sets), condoms, and proper signage on the walls. At that time, they will bring you a health permit. Once you have that permit and your insurance, it’s pretty easy. You set up an account on FilmLA.com and then fill out an online form whenever you need a filming permit. A film permit costs around $700 and is good for two weeks. You can get a two-week extension for an extra $100, so the cost of a four-week permit comes to $800. They do not offer an annual permit, so you will need to purchase a new permit every four weeks. Adult film permits must be approved individually by Los Angeles County. Once the county health investigator knows you have a permit, it will only take a day or two for this approval. This makes it hard if you need an emergency permit, though, so you do want to plan ahead a little. As soon as you have registered online, paid for your permit, and been approved, you are officially legal! If someone calls the police to tell them there’s a porn shoot going on, the police will call FilmLA and ask them if that location is permitted. FilmLA will look it up, and tell them that the location is good. The police will most likely not even need to come out. So to summarize, getting a permit is a great way to reduce your stress level; it means you won’t have to worry about the police ruining your scene and possibly being arrested. A great number of companies may choose not to get a permit. Some will avoid it by shooting outside the state; others will shoot outside Los Angeles County; and others will just shoot without it and keep moving to different locations every day. For those who do want to operate legally, all you need is a FilmLA permit and a Health Permit (if you are filming intercourse), and you will be happily legal in the eyes of the law! Producer/director Glenn King is one of the pioneers of the femdom genre. His studio MeanBitch Productions puts out DVDs distributed by Exquisite Multimedia. King specializes in niche content in the areas of ass worship, facesitting and foot worship. He also produces the website MeanBitches.com and hosts a weekly TV show, Glenn King’s ManEaters Show, which can be seen on TheKingNetwork.com and on the MaddyGTV Latenight Roku Channel.

 
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