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Filming Location Permit

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Jonathan AlexanderFilming Location Permit
by on Feb 7, 2006 at 7:35:15 am

Is there a standard procedure for getting a license to film at, say a building in an urban downtown city area? Say I had a shoot that was going to take place in a back alley or maitenance alley of a building, how does one go about getting a permit to shoot there? Do I have to go to the city, or to the owners of the building itself? I'm just curious about how to even start off, and if it I am to expect it to be a big pain in the ass. Thanks for any advice on the topic.


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nestorlRe: Filming Location Permit
by on Feb 7, 2006 at 2:20:43 pm

hello Jonathan,

Usually both. You may not require a city permit if you are shooting 100% inside private property and will not be affecting public areas (blocking traffic, etc). But you should contact your city offices. You will for sure need to obtain a permit from the owner of the building through the execution of a Location Agreement. This is a simple contract that gives you the rights to use the location of x purpose and describe the terms of the agreement. Usually at the end of filming you obtain a location release, which is a statement by the owner that the property is returned in the same condition as it was before the shoot, that the owner received all payments, and that the producer has no additional responsibilities to the owner. It releases you from further obligations.

Hope this helps. Nestor.


Nestor L. Lopez

Executive Vice-President

Explorart Films


Statements presented in the message are statements of opinion only and should not be considered legal advice. Please contact a qualified entertainment attorney.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Filming Location Permit
by on Feb 7, 2006 at 2:36:12 pm

Every major city and state has a film commission or something with a similar name, look them up using Google and ask them, they will quickly get you up to speed.

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Jonathan AlexanderRe: Filming Location Permit
by on Feb 8, 2006 at 7:07:42 pm

I'm so sorry I didn't get back to thank you guys for your advice earlier. Thank you thank you. I will search google and try and contact the film commission here in Long Beach. Thanks you!

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Jonathan AlexanderRe: Filming Location Permit
by on Feb 8, 2006 at 11:06:06 pm

One other quick question. Upon my search for film commission in long beach, I see that insurance is needed for getting a permit? Now, I'm thinking this is for a special event or a big movie set? My production, we're just talking a video camera and 1 actor and a van. Is this insurance going to be necessary?

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Mark SuszkoRe: Filming Location Permit
by on Feb 9, 2006 at 1:10:45 am

I can't tell from here, you should ask them. The small size of the production does not necessarily mean there is no risk. If you shoot in public places, you may need to take precautions so you don't distract someone into causing an accident, what theycall being "an attractive nuisance". Stuff like that.

I was doing a job once a long time ago with the state and local P.D. and they blocked off a cul de sac and wanted to shoot a simple mock traffic stop in front of a friend's house they knew was vacant. So picture a squad car, unmarked "perp" car, me with a full size betacam on tripod, with all the accoutrements, and staff standing near me. The cops stage their bust, and afterwards, we find out some lady saw the whole thing out her front window, including me and the camera, blotted that fact from her mind, decided this was a real take-down, and she was cowering on her living room floor calling in to 911.

Lucky the 911 dispatchers already knew what we were doing, or there would have been hell to pay, and that's just one reason you might need insurance...

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Jonathan AlexanderRe: Filming Location Permit
by on Feb 9, 2006 at 1:22:50 am

Thats pretty funny. I work for the PD, and my boss has done mock police stuff many times. Although, yeah most people can recognise that it is a video shoot. Luckily, I just found out that my boss has insurance, so I'm not going to worry about that now, phew. Thanks for the story, we are actually going to soon be working on a video for a traffic stop scenario too, hopefully there won't be anybody calling the police on us! :)


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garyRe: Filming Location Permit
by on Feb 10, 2006 at 9:29:14 pm

You should expect to provide insurance. The city will view you as a contractor, requiring bonds, contractor registration etc. Then there are sign offs with the bldg. depts, fire depts, elec. depts which is typical for special event permits.

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