No Cameras Allowed: Is it Real or Fake?


‘No Cameras Allowed’ is an upcoming film that shows the journey of a guy named Marcus Haney who got into Coachella festival with a faked press pass and got exclusive film footage of famous bands.

After that, he got invited by bands like ‘Mumford and Sons’ to join them on tour. The film has gotten quite a bit of hype in the online photo world, but is No Cameras Allowed real or just a faked story to get some money out of kids who believe this is how the music photography business works?

First, watch the trailer if you haven’t seen it yet:

Which music photographer doesn’t want to shoot directly for bands and go with them on tour? Who doesn’t want to be a rockstar music photographer over night after shooting your first concert? Who doesn’t want to make a living out of concert photography?

Most of us want to live this dream, and No Cameras Allowed makes it seem so easy. You don’t have to be honest or hard working anymore. By faking Coachella festival wristbands, Marcus Haney snuck under security’s radar and filmed footage that he made in the photo pit.

The film trailer also shows that he went on stage to shoot exclusive footage with his press wristband, and that afterwards, bands saw his footage and immediately took him on tour.

Haney filming from the stage of a show, as seen in the trailer.

Haney filming from the stage of a show, as seen in the trailer.

I have been a professional music photographer for years now, and have been directly working with artists like Iggy Pop and The Prodigy. I’ve also shot hundreds of bands for international publications like The Rolling Stones, Nine Inch Nails, Miley Cyrus, Iron Maiden, Rammstein and Foo Fighters, to name a few.

I am also a tour photographer with the German band Shantel and traveled with them for the past year. My way of “sneaking” into the music business was to be honest to bands/managers, because that’s the professional way to do things. That’s what I believe, and if you’re doing things the wrong way in this business, you’ll be kicked out of it faster than you can click your shutter button.

First off, I want to make it clear that I’m not jealous of Haney, because I’m already in the industry. I just want to share my personal point of view because I think a lot of people who watch “No Cameras Allowed” will believe everything they see, and it could distort the reality of what it means to have a job as a music photographer.

#1: How to Get a Press Pass in the Real World

Press accreditation is basically an agreement with the band’s management that lets you enter the venue with your professional gear and take pictures of the concert. This generally means you need someone like a music magazine to get you access.

The magazine gets in contact with the concert organizer — companies that book bands and check with the management to see if photographers are allowed. Decisions need to be made on whether photographers get press accreditation.

In “No Cameras Allowed,” Marcus Haney faked wrist bands in order to sneak by security guards. That could be possible due to the fact that tens of thousands of wristbands need to be checked.

However, band management generally requires that photographers sign contracts before shooting the bands. They always check your publication, because big stars want big media coverage. How then, does Haney get into the photographers pit with a faked wrist band for faked media coverage?

#2: The Photo Pit

Once you get into the festival venue, you head into the photo pit. This is the dedicated space in front of the stage where concert photographers are able to do their job. In general you’re only allowed to shoot from the photo pit for the first three songs — afterwards you get kicked out of this area.

So, Marcus Haney might had the chance to enter with his video camera and film from there. I am a photographer and not a video guy, but where I live (Austria), even the biggest TV team is just allowed to film a couple of seconds and sometimes even without recording live audio.

This might be different in the US, but definitely there are strict limits for more famous bands (see the contract issue mentioned above). How then, did Haney get awesome film footage?

#3: On Stage Action

The trailer makes it seem as though Haney could enter the stage with his faked wrist band and shoot directly on stage. Here the film is going to be funny. I have shot on stage for bands like Iggy Pop, The Prodigy and Portugal. There is no way you can enter the stage without knowing the tour manager or the band.

A normal wrist band won’t do the trick — you’ll need an AAA (access all area) pass. We are talking about stars like Jay-Z in the film! You think everyone with a faked press pass can just go on stage and shoot there? If you have no direct contact to the band, you will be kicked out immediately.

Jay-Z, as seen in the trailer

Jay-Z, as seen in the trailer

#4. High Glossy Film Coverage vs. Analog Footage in ‘No Cameras Allowed’

In the trailer, Marcus Haney is using an analog film camera to cover the concerts. However most of the trailer shows high quality film footage shot from above (the shots might be from an aerial POV or crane), on stage action, and musicians smiling into the camera. Maybe he also faked a Coachella technician crane pass? Oh, and why is the film produced by MTV again?

#5. Legal Issues

There are also the legal issues. If he had to sign a contract that says you are only allowed to post your footage in the magazine you are have permission for, then he would get into big trouble. And if he didn’t sign any contract, then it’s not clear to me if he is even allowed to use his film footage to make a film out of it and make money from a commercial product.

How is it possible, that nobody in the bands’ managements canceled the project? Maybe they are also involved and are getting their share of money from this film?

#6. Marketing Gag or Real S**t?

When I first watched the trailer, I was instantly reminded of The Blair Witch Project (that fake horror documentary in which someone purportedly found video takes of students who disappeared in a forest and were killed by a witch). That film also got into theaters and had amazing success because it was a new and interesting approach to get people into the movies.

I had the same feeling about No Cameras Allowed. What if it’s just a great marketing move by the music and film industry to make the rockstar life of musicians more interesting?

#7: It’s a Slap in the Honest Concert Photographer’s Face

It doesn’t really matter if No Cameras Allowed is fake or real. What matters is the fact that Marcus Haney is getting respect from media and musicians for doing things dishonestly and illegally.

Scott Kelby mentioned this in a recent YouTube comment and received some nasty comments in return. What’s the message of this film? Do things that you are not allowed to do and get what you want by doing so? I think it’s a slap in every honest concert photographer’s face!

I know of so many people around the world that are great and honest guys. They live their passion as music photographers and give their best to make a living out of it. And then we get this film that tells you, “just fake a press wristband and all doors will magically open for you.”


I can understand why they would do this film for profit. Sure, the rockstar business seems to be a cool business and it should stay that way. I haven’t watched the movie and I definitely interested in what other secrets about the music business this film tries to reveal.

I guess it’s just another attempt to make the already struggling music industry a bit more the place that everybody dreams of. For me, Marcus Haney is just the puppet who fakes being the music photographer who can live his dream by faking wristbands. If the story is actually true, then congrats to him for being such a marketing genius.

Again, these are all just my personal thoughts on seeing the trailer for the film. I don’t know if this film is real or fake, but it seems like they worked harder to make sure this movie sells than to show the truth about being a real concert photographer.

About the author: Matthias Hombauer is a photographer of rockstars who is currently based in Vienna, Austria. He writes about photography at How to Become a Rockstar Photographer, where this article originally appeared.

Image credits: Trailer and all still frames by MTV/Marcus Haney

  • jon

    Thank you for the article. I knew it reeked of bs. I’ve seen this trailer pop up on almost every site I frequent. It’s good that most of the comments have been pretty skeptical. I guess people don’t fall for this stuff like they used to.

  • Matthias Hombauer

    thanks Jon!

  • Clayton Finley

    in other shocking news, journalist discovers reality tv is in fact, scripted.

    But I did once fake a media pass for a online publication so I could shoot at a super small concert venue. That was fun. I also have my ways of sneaking in my cameras into concert venues, and get in early enough where I’m right on the rail, so i’m basically shooting from the pits anyway.

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  • Blaise Joseph Castellano

    Thank you for this article. Someone who actually understands the issue with this

  • Jeffrey Howarth

    He did this for free? That’s how it was done :-)

  • Pooper

    #5 Releases/permissions aren’t required in USA for documentaries. Documentaries are not considered commercial, even if money is made from them. But, the whole thing smacks of being staged, I agree.

  • Pickle

    I will be sure and pirate this movie. It’s only fair.

  • Nick Sutton

    I think you’re spot on with your thoughts. I too am a concert photographer and had questions when I saw the trailer. What’s more funny is most of the bands I have covered required a photo pass that was stamped with the shows date. That’d be something you can’t just create off a whim.

    Like mentioned above, it you want to be a concert photographer; be honest and don’t expect to get rich off it.

  • Nick Sutton

    And to make note of the bands I have covered just in case people question it: Cage the Elephant, Fitz & The Tantrum, Darius Rucker, Brantley Gilbert, Jake Owen…. yada yada yada.

  • Carson I

    Well said! You nailed it.

    This is hardly a documentary. It’s a music festival commercial, one with enough cash behind it for this serious promotional push. No thanks.

  • NILPhotography

    This screams fake even before I found out it was done by MTV who have a reputation from making ‘reality tv’. he’s faking wrist bands from photos which I can’t work out how he obtained in the first place and amongst a far longer list of things that push me to say it’s faked is that after knowing you get in a shot unaccredited I strongly doubt anyone in the industry would ever work with you again.

    Put in the work and earn that spot in the pit, you wont have broken the law and you’ll feel better about it at the end.

    Matthias Hombauer you made solid well thought out points, pointed out a few thing’s I hadn’t considered having watched the trailer.

  • de tényleg


    I sneaked into the photo pit on my first festival in Hungary, used the pictures I took there to get to the organizers second festival, and ended up on the press list on the third. It took me 2 months only. His story is totally possible.

    Iggy Pop and The Prodigy are media jerks, old dinosaurs who doing it for the living. At the beginning Mumford and sons were pretty close to their fans and actually needed some nice visual coverage. After that its much easier to go around with a portfolio like that.

    The game changed pretty much in the past years, get over it, and stop hating!

  • Patrick Schmitz

    It’s yet another “reality” program by MTV. All of them are either partially or fully scripted and I don’t expect this to be any different.

  • Dave Fuller

    Totally scripted, but it’s a movie. Curious as to why he’d want to be applauded for reasons other than his work just speaking for itself. He’s probably a great photographer, minus the hype. Most others would have kept it that way.

  • Fullstop

    I will probably watch this movie just because I love music and anything that is about it. However I do believe that many of the shots that were in this movie were not from Haney. Obviously the crane shots and Beyonce winks and all of the HD footage is going to be sourced.
    They’re making a movie, about a story, to make money. I don’t know of any movie that is 100% factual.

  • Pickle

    I like to think I’m down with the times, but I have never heard of any of those bands. Is it safe to assume they’re hipster bands?

  • Alex Messick

    I can’t say I disagree with you about the possibility that this is staged, but I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with what he did if it was real. There are plenty of “honest” photographers who will step on anyone and everyone to get what they want and yet these practices are still deemed ‘acceptable’ by arbitrary industry standards as I have learned. If he is indeed for real, his photos are fantastic and he truly does deserve a spot in the pit, regardless of how he got there. If not, then yes, I suppose this could portray the music photography industry in a false light. But more to the point…why does it make a difference either way? For those of us who do this for a living, if we are truly good at what we do, our work is what sets us apart and not the story of how we got there.

  • Bryan Haywood

    I don’t see why anyone would bother making a fake movie like this… Most people aren’t that into photography… I don’t see the kids who go to watch this even know how to run an analog video camera or could even run a regular SLR camera. I like the idea of inspiring a new generation of photographers but not at the price of dishonesty. Also, If I was braking the law I certainly wouldn’t video myself… I just keep asking myself why…

  • PazinBoise

    I have a feeling the reasons involve money, fame, and more money…

  • Nick Sutton

    Darius Rucker was the lead singer for Hootie and the Blowfish who is now country. Cage the Elephant is considered indie rock I believe. I’m not sure what Fitz is categorized as, they are sort of retro with their sound. The others are country artist.

  • OtterMatt

    Also, he can’t fake wristbands anymore to these larger shows, because the press IDs are RFID-tagged since he did his stunt originally, and for that exact reason.

  • Dave Fuller

    and money. ha.

  • David Hobby

    I don’t even think Marcus Haney is a real person. His Twitter stream looks far more like it was manufactured by a PR team than that of a real guerrilla concert shooter:

  • Tony L.

    This makes me think that the big music industry is trying to replicate the early days of rock photography. Where you didn’t have to be a rockstar to live like one, and gaining access to the bands was a lot different then. I think what made the industry so special was the romanticizing of the rockstar life through photos from the early days.

  • blake

    having photographed MANY reputable musicians… up close and personal…. the kid story is fake — i’ve been run off even with legit credentials… I’ve been in the press pit and had one of the musicians carry on a conversation with me in front of thousands of fans — most of my access is given by the musicians and management themselves, with occasional festival access…. i’ve worked with BB King, the Temptations, 4 non blondes, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Dave Mason, Dave Matthews, and many many more — my fondness is for the blues music scene as access isn’t as tightly controlled.. . the kid didn’t sneak into cochella or any of these other squalid hipster meccas — this article is right on…

  • Dirk Moeller

    My immediate thought when I saw stage footage: “how did he get the release?”

  • Matthias Hombauer

    great point on this David!

  • NILPhotography

    Most of them seem to involve some form of lanyard and lamination, the wrist band is just the beginning – you need one to be on site the more access you have the more extras you have.

  • joshc

    The trailer appears to be blocked, but I think that the story is that he snuck into Coachella, got some good shots and parlayed them into legit access to future festivals and agreements with big names. I agree, there’s no way a faked Coachella wristband gets you onstage. Often a real photo wristband isn’t enough to get you in the photo pit (capacity, releases, security whims…). Then again, his career allegedly started in 2010, which is infamously Coachella’s most disastrous security year.

  • nikonian

    Darius is a pretty chill guy. Ive done a meet and greet with him (I was the photographer) and his manager wasn’t too uptight. Trust me, several papers were signed ad I was wearing 2 badges in order to even get in the position to shoot the event and meet and greet.

  • Matthias Hombauer

    Now it´s getting even more interesting; the Youtube link is marked as deleted due to copyright claims by “F the fence, LLC” which seems to be an LA based filmproduction startup listing members James Haney, Caafilmproductions and Fake Empire Inc.)

  • RonT

    Sounding like a reboot of ‘Almost Famous’ really…

  • Danny North

    “I haven’t watched the movie” BUT I’M GONNA SLAG IT OFF ANYWAY.

    Way to go! Why not watch the movie before calling out REAL OR FAKE!?

    ‘I haven’t seen the movie yet, but my opinion is so well informed that I can blog about it on petapixel’…

    I know Marcus, he’s one of the most loveliest and genuine people I’ve ever met and yes, the movie is real, made entirely by his own hand.

  • Ashley James Stevens

    I feel there is a certain amount of truth to the story. I too work in Music Journalism and understand the plight of gaining accreditation, but I have also snook around festivals and gotten a lot of access that I shouldn’t have been permitted, on multiple occasions.

    It’s surprising how many people will let you do what you want if you’re walking around confidently with expensive equipment in your hands.

    It would have been possible for Marcus to begin making this film years ago, using his own craftiness, but eventually have it picked up by MTV and completed with their assistance.

    I was recently side stage with Mogwai, without any of the appropriate wristbands, lanyards or passes. I took a few pictures and nobody batted an eyelid.

  • Victor Biro

    If this movie is faked, and a production of the entertainment industry, it reflects what they already think of concert photographers: A bunch of guys leaching off the hard work of musicians.

    Everything that the industry seems to do these days reflects this view; limits on number of songs, lousy shooting positions, recent posts by musicians and managers expressing exactly this.

    If musicians and managers had any strategic vision they would understand that great pictures reflect well on the band. Ironically, this movie seems to promote the value of great concert pics, and the value of access to get those special shots.

  • Nick Sutton

    Yep I couldn’t agree more. Anderson is also a very nice guy (manager). Their whole crew is great, even his body guard Buddy lol.

  • Ridgecity

    It’s based on what Cameron Crowe did with Rolling Stone,

    If this was real he would not leave jail for the next 100 years for including music by these bands.

  • Frankeenfurter

    I went to the same school as this kid. USC cinema. Nice guy, but a little aloof on the real world. Have you read his bio? “Los Angeles native with a home on the road, he’s more likely to be found jumping fences, hanging from trees, or sneaking past security lines to document the human circus rather than following the rules of marching in it.” More like: my parents pay my bills while I run around the country/world photographing music fests. I agree, there are some loose ends, but that is probably where the entertainment industry comes in. On the one hand, I’m happy for him making a film and getting it seen. On the other, I can’t help but wonder would he still be able to do this and make rent/bills along with all the other things you should be dealing with as a fairly recent grad. I do like the concept. Beware of Mr. Baker was made under false pretenses…so I’m led to believe.

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  • rivercityrocker

    Trying real hard to care about this, but I’ve watched this business go to hell in the past 5 or 6 years. People with cameras shooting for free. Startup bloggers clogging up the pits. Most people that claim to be “concert photographers” are just in on a scam to get free tickets and a front row spot for 3 songs. You have this trust-fund kid Marcus Haney who sneaks in a festival. So what? He’s a scammer like the 90%.

    The concert photography business is a joke.

  • GentrifierNumber6

    The Coachella Media passes (which only allowed pit access and NOT even that for every band) also included RFID tags, so he would have had to steal one of those as well. If this was truthful.

  • rivercityrocker

    I don’t think the RFID chips were in use in 2010.

  • Matt Brennan

    As Marcus’ uncle, I can tell you that it’s completely real. I don’t agree with his methods, either. But ethics aside, he is very talented, and his combination of luck, confidence and raw talent made this possible. These days, he mostly gets hired by bands or magazines to go to the festivals, but the early stuff was all sneaking in. Regarding point # 4, some of the shots are from an HD camera attached to a remote control helicopter that they snuck in. Regarding point # 5, MTV bought the movie and they were able to get many of the permissions. There were a couple of artists who wouldn’t budge, so they were cut from the film.

  • Shea

    Alt rock/ alternative/ indie

  • rivercityrocker

    There’s NO way he snuck a remote control helicopter in and security didn’t stop it from flying around. That’s ridiculous. I call BS on that.

    Not to mention why is Marcus’ “uncle” posting and not Marcus himself? This is your first and only comment in Disqus. I call BS on you too.

  • Matt Brennan

    You’re right. I’m a plant. There’s a whole department at MTV devoted to keeping this lie going, but darn it all, you’ve seen through it. Oh, brother.

  • Martin McFly

    Well, i think these aren’t “ethics” that can be put aside. It’s about a movie that – as Matthias wrote in his article (#7) – disrespects the work of a whole genre of honest photographers, and it does so by idolizing behavior that puts very real security theats not just to the protagonist but others aswell. Stages are no playgrounds – no matter how much of the story is real or not.
    Even worse so assuming your points are true and he really snuck a drone (not to mention a helicopter) into a festival and flew it over a crowded space. I’ll spare you the list of links to drone-related accidents.
    I wouldn’t bite too hard into the fake-or-real headline and try to see the point of the outrage.
    It’s about idolizing a character that ruins it for everyone else. Why should it be tolerated?

  • Matt Brennan

    I’m not saying the ethics don’t matter. I clearly stated that I don’t think he should be doing this.

  • Martin McFly

    Yeah, i understood that. With my second comment in diqus i just wanted to add an answer with a little bit more reason to this discussion and perhaps drag it a bit away from “fake-or-real?” towards the imho actual core of the problem. No offense intendend.