This blog post is in direct response response to Mr. Groenewald’s reply to an article in the Capetowner newspaper.
To begin with, I have had a meeting some time ago, with Mr. Groenewald which was setup by Denis Lillie from the Cape Town Film Commission. Mr. Terence Isaacs was present at this meeting and when we challenged them around the permit issue. This is where Mr. Isaacs and Mr. Groenewald first raised the issue of PL insurance.
We were surprised by this as it didn’t make any sense and it was pointed out that this was a route that they really didn’t want go down as we felt it was an attempt to detract from the real issue.
Following this meeting, the Cape Film Commission went through the process of sourcing commercially attractive PL insurance for photographers to enable a blanket permit process that was proposed be put into place. The aim of this was to address the issue of PL insurance as raised by Mr. Groenewald and Mr. Isaacs and pave the way to allowing photographers to shoot freely seeing this was the only issue that was raised.
Even with this in place the city refused to allow freelance photographer access to permits unless each photographer was registered with the City as a Production Company.
Forgive me for being confused here but both I and the CFC were led to believe it was only the issue of PL cover that was a stumbling block?
Furthermore the City’s insistence that any or all individual photographer should register as a production company with the city before they are allowed to take a single photograph is farcical and undemocratic and in breach of the Filming By-law.
Subsequently it has been Mr. Groenewald who has continually raised the issue PL insurance a number of times in defence for the permit policy and the location booking system.
Most recently he responded to an article in the Cape Towner and cited once again that it was based on the need for PL cover. We responded with the following which cites his justification for permits being linked to PL cover.
In his response to questions posed by the Capetowner, Anton Groenewald from the City said “All entities engaging in activities for commercial purposes are bound by a duty of care for their clients, suppliers, neighbours and the environment to have some form of public liability insurance”.
If this is the case we would ask the City and the mayor to please confirm within 7 days that anyone fitting the above description is required to provide proof of PL insurance to the City including:
* Big Issue sellers.
* Informal Traders.
* Car Guards.
* Pamphlet Distributors at traffic lights.
* Vehicles delivering goods in the City.
* Vehicles operating within the City for the purpose of business.
* Newspaper vendors.
There are many more examples that could be cited and as the city has stated there are no exceptions, I am sure that the City and the Mayor in the interest of transparency will have no problem providing this proof to ourselves and the media…
Should the City not be able to provide this proof then we will be forced to conclude that the PL issue is merely being used as a smoke screen to cover up the City’s blunder with the permit policy.
His reply from the Capetowner on the 14th June 2012.
Anton Groenewald, executive director of tourism, events and marketing, responds:
“The City of Cape Town has engaged with Mr Miller on numerous occasions to try and explain the need for public liability insurance in granting film permits.
His latest obtuse letter displays his refusal to enter into meaningful discussions with the City or to try to understand the matter. With most of the examples listed, the employer would hold the insurance. The rest aren’t registered commercial entities. This is common sense. Mr Miller’s wild theories do not detract from the need for public liability insurance for film shoots. The City has public liability insurance requirements in place to protect all parties involved or affected by film-related activity – including the general public. The City, in granting a film permit, exposes itself to the possibility of considerable public liability issues and therefore needs to ensure that film-makers and photographers who undertake film-related activity in accordance with a permit issued by the City have some form of public liability insurance against any potential injury or damage to the public and/or property.
This, also, seems like common sense.”
I fully understand the City wanting to be indemnified from prosecution by requiring individuals to have PL cover however needing a permit to shoot is not so that the City can enforce one to have PL cover. If this was just about PL cover as Mr. Groenewald keeps incorrectly claiming it is, then there would be no need for a location booking system or to register with the City as a production company. There would also be no logical requirement to obtain a permit on a per shoot basis. All one would need to do is register once with the City and then every year provided proof of PL cover.
This brings us to the next point. Not everyone has continual blanket PL cover. Some companies, due to the nature of their shoots, choose to obtain cover on a per shoot basis and the current permit system does not cater for this. Additionally if one applies with blanket cover like I have, how can the City be sure that one doesn’t cancel the cover immediately after applying
Surely anyone can see that there is a huge issue with Mr Groenewald’s insistence that the need for permits is because of PL cover. I have no doubt that once this posts he will change tack and state that PL cover is just one of the issues but to date it’s been the one he keeps pushing.
Our question to him above wasn’t questioning why the City wanted us to have PL cover, that was blatantly obvious to all but him, but rather why do we need a permit to enforce PL cover where other industries, as listed as an example, are not regulated.
Does the City only intend enforcing this in the photographic and film sector?
If PL cover is as big a deal as the City is making it out to be, why are the employers alluded to in his reply, not required to register and apply for permits as we are?
Assuming that the city applied this thinking to every single person doing business in the City, it would drive emerging businesses out of business. Is this the City’s intention, to stifle growth in the economy merely to satisfy the restrictions in their ability to respond due to their lack of resources and their bureaucratic processes?
Additionally is a freelance photographer acting in their own private capacity a registered commercial entity?
Why then is Mr Groenewald contradicting himself?
Of course if PL cover is merely a smoke screen to cover the real issue of access and control, then the logic behind the permit process would make sense but then we would have to deal with its implementation which we maintain is flawed and the City would have to admit it has not thought this trough properly…
The whole debate revolves around what By-Law Relating to Filming, No. 30441, Provincial Gazette 6279, 24 June 2005 actually says and allows the City to do.
It’s interesting that the By-law only has one paragraph “4.1.3 Indemnity” dedicated to indemnity, said paragraph simply states:
In order to protect the City from any claims arising from the use of Council property for film purposes, all film companies must complete an indemnity form. This indemnity must be in place prior to the approval of any film
permit application. An annual indemnity document must be signed by an appropriate representative of the production company. A R2.00 revenue stamp is no longer required.
This paragraph does not in any manner or form mention the requirement for PL cover although I guess one could at a stretch try argue that this would be a component of indemnity but I am not sure how successful one would be.
In contrast the word access is mentioned 6 times and disruption 5 times. It’s very clear from the By-Law what its intention was and why it would be hard to justify the current system that is being imposed on us.
May we also ask if it is reasonable to regard a private freelance individual as a film company?
PL cover can easily be removed for the location booking system and permit dispute as it’s easy to control as an add-on. The real issue is that once the City admits that we have a minimal impact on the City and that the booking system can’t work for us, they have a huge problem on their hands…
Contrary to Mr. Groenewald’s claims in his latest response, we have tried to engage with the City on numerous occasions and we have just been brushed off time and time again…
After sending numerous emails to Mr. Groenewald which went unanswered, he finally referred us back to the Film Permit Office.
We have tried to setup numerous meeting with Mayco member Grant Pascoe who to date simply has ignored us.
On the 17th April 2012 at 3:59pm the Mayor replied via tweet:
“@CT_PPA @CityofCT Please forward me your email address so that I can send you the city’s response”
To date we are still waiting for the promised response. We did contact her again suggesting a meeting as we are still not convinced that the Mayco actually understand the issue and the hole that council is digging for itself.
In light of the above which we have proof of, I am not sure how Mr. Groenewald can in good conscience state “The City of Cape Town has engaged with Mr Miller on numerous occasions to try and explain the need for public liability insurance in granting film permits.” especially given how many times we have tried to engage the City management and since he himself brushed us off?
If we are talking a case of common sense then it’s Mr. Groenewald who needs realise that it is he who is not making any sense…