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Filmmaking / Directing : Quick question by Severine Slate

Severine Slate

Quick question

If you are shooting on private property with the permission of the landowner, do you still need a shooting permit from the city/county?

Stage 32 Staff - Julie

Ohh...good question...can anyone help Severine?

Renee Grayson

I'm not sure what each state requires, but according to the NC Film Commission: Shooting on private and corporate property always requires permission from the owner and/or management of that location, and may or may not require fees. If you are seriously considering a location, approach the owner or manager about your plans and negotiate for its use. It's always good practice to have the owner's written permission on hand during the shoot. Permission from the county/city/states is not required. So Severine may want to check with her state's (or whichever state she is shooting in) film commission.

Shawn Speake

You don't need the city, or county's approval to shoot on PRIVATE property. I don't know if that changes if you bring Hollywood to your house, but I haven't experienced problems with low-budget projects.

Shawn Speake

My disclaimer: my only experience is shooting videos for wannabe rappers at pool parties - glorified house parties, and documentaries.

Renee Grayson

I think it's good to have a contract signed by the private owners and the production company just to make sure all bases are covered. Our lawyer says, "If it doesn't belong to the company, then make a contract." I see his point...LOL

Severine Slate

Thank you. I'm working on a screenplay and trying to adapt it to work with a really small budget so this was definitely something I wanted to be able to consider when writing.

Diane Akam

You should have a Location Agreement signed with tho homeowner. Not necessary (in Canada) for city permission. However, if you have a lot of crew parking, craft service truck, etc. you WILL need city permission for the additional parking spots on the road.

Charles G. Masi

I'm in pre-production on a microbudget short (20 min) film. We've got one scene in a nature preserve owned by the city, so the first thing I did was contact the Director of the facility. She's cooperative, but will require liability insurance, and will want contracts reviewed by their lawyers. Most of the exteriors will be shot next door on private property, where the owner hates paperwork. He's an old coot who'd rather work with just a handshake. Not sure how that is going to work out! Interiors will be done in locations owned and controlled by us producers, so we're not even going to tell anyone what we're doing. By the way, if you bring in a big crew and disrupt the neighborhood, expect to deal with the city. So, you see, it all depends on the situation at the location. Finally, despite all the hassles, location shooting is generally cheaper than building a set.

Erik A. Jacobson

I've shot ten microbudget films, all very profitable, on private, city, state, and federal property without ever getting a permit. Some locations, however, do require liability insurance, which isn't a big deal. The secret is to use a small crew, shoot quickly, be friendly & polite, and act like you know what you're doing.

Charles G. Masi

Well put, Erik!

Erik A. Jacobson

Some additional suggestions. Do you know a fireman? if not, you or someone on your crew should befriend one. You might even consider offering them a small role. Why? Because cops and firemen are part of the same "brotherhood". Bringing one along on a questionable no-permit shoot to interface with nosy cops will instantly give you license to film anywhere you want. Also, consider adding a film school intern to your crew. When someone questions if you have the necessary permit to shoot somewhere, send the intern over to them to say "Hi, I'm a film student at ------ University. My friends and I are just shooting here for a few minutes and we'll be out of your way, okay?" On state or federal property, get to know the security guard. You'd be surprised what they'll allow as long as you're not a total jerk. In Hawaii, I was able to film on any beach I wanted, even Pipeline, simply by bringing along a famous surfer friend who was well-known to all the lifeguards. Hope this advice helps.

Rick James

Wow good stuff and all true. Best advice, keep your crew small and equipment light, unless it's ok. You don't need permission from the city to shoot on private property, but some owners may ask for proof of insurance in case something or someone gets broken. Erik I love the student ID idea, once I used my old college ID (I still have it) on a small budget short and surprise it worked.

Mark Ratering

Eric has it.. but different from state to state.. if you do it behind the back of gov make sure you have insurance

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