Sunday, July 29, 2007

Picture NY and Grassroots Advocacy

Plenty has been written (as well as broadcasted) about the new group Picture NY, which formed somewhat spontaneously in response to the misguided NY Mayor's Office restrictions (links to PDF) on free speech by proposing new rules covering filming and photographing in the city. You can read all about it elsewhere.

What I find most interesting, and inspiring, about all of this has been the way that NY filmmakers came together, without any established group taking the lead, to protest this nonsense. I've written a lot about the death of AIVF and what it means for advocacy, and this is a perfect example of something AIVF would have taken the lead on in the past. It's great to see that when it really matters, some good old grass-roots organizing can make a difference. In about three days, Picture NY has been able to raise over 7,000 signatures on their petition (this is as of Sunday at 2pm). That's astounding. More than 400 people showed up in Union Square for their protest (and this during the Simpsons movie premiere!), and they may actually make real changes to the rules.

I attended the beginning of the rally on Friday (...there was that Simpsons movie), and I was really enthused by the energy. I saw many familiar faces, and was quite proud of Jem Cohen, whose email really helped kick this campaign into action. While I am aware that some organizations are working behind the scenes on this issue (IFP being the leader in this regard, kudos to them), their efforts pale in comparison to this grass roots advocacy, and this shows that filmmakers do care about policy concerns after all, especially when it affects such fundamental issues. I look forward to seeing whether this group leads to something more.

No comments: