Whether you’re shooting on-campus or off-campus, finding locations is an important step in pre-production.
Securing any location requires permission from either the College or off-campus location owner/manager, and in some specific cases you may be required to procure a shooting permit. Make sure that you start this process early and leave yourself enough time to complete all the necessary paperwork.
There are a variety of great locations available to you at right here at Occidental College, and many students over the years have made use of these in their films. Professional crews pay thousands to come film on Oxy’s campus, looking for closed spaces with mitigated noise and security issues, along with easy access to power and restrooms. Remember that all you have to see is what is in the frame. Think about how you can frame a space to look like your desired setting, use sound design to sell the space, and how you can suture different locations to seem continuous. For some ideas, check out our “Locations Book” in The Cage.
The first step for on-campus filming is finding a location. If you are using an office, such as the Career Development Center, make sure that they are comfortable with you using that space first. Tell the office about your project, your shoot dates and times, and what you plan on shooting in that location.
Once you’ve found a location, fill out a Master Calendar request. This must be done at least three days in advance. All student film shoots on-campus must be registered through Master Calendar. Students need to register in person with Master Calendar before being able to use the online form.
For on-campus filming, Master Calendar checks for availability of requested spaces. Representatives can alert you to potentially noisy or disruptive events going on near that location at the time you requested and suggest alternatives. Registering with Master Calendar also puts you on the schedule of approved events that Campus Safety receives, allowing officers to know you’re permitted to be where you are, unlock doors for you, etc.
After you have registered with Master Calendar, fill out the On-Campus Location Release Permit. You will need to get the required signatures of the location representative and the faculty advisor of the project on the form. Any location on campus, interior or exterior, requires an On-Campus Location Release permit with ALL the requisite signatures.
Filming is only allowed in Los Angeles County. Travel outside of Los Angeles is only permitted in the case of documentaries funded by external grants such as a Richter grant or a Values & Vocations grant.
The first step is to find a location. If you are planning on filming on privately-owned property, such as a house or restaurant, you will need a Location Release, which is signed by the person who owns the property. Do not get it signed by a manager or employee unless you are sure they have the authority to grant permission. Always keep a copy with you during filming.
Privately-owned locations, such as restaurants, will often also ask for a certificate of insurance. Download or photocopy the Insurance Certificate Request in the back of this book. Fill it out and ask your professor to approve it. Your professor must sign the insurance request form. Take the form to Nazeli Khodabakhsh, our Risk Management Coordinator, (x2646, first floor of AGC in the 100 suite, right across from the Registrar's office) in person at least two weeks before you need it. Do not e-mail her the form as she may have additional questions for you before she can approve it. Bring all relevant permits, releases, or other forms with you for her perusal if necessary. Note: Nazeli has the right to turn away anyone who doesn’t respect the Two Week window. Do not hesitate to contact Nazeli with any questions or concerns. You must notify her if the details of your certificate (such as the shoot date) have changed as she will have to issue another insurance certificate.
If you are planning on filming at a public location, such as the sidewalk in front of a building, you will need a Film LA Permit, which grants you the city’s permission to shoot in Los Angeles. If a police officer comes to your shoot, your permit is proof that you are allowed to show on that day at that location. You must get a city permit for every location (exception: small crews shooting in a private residence in which you don’t obstruct traffic or interfere with the public in any way).
To get a Film LA permit, print out the correct form(s) from www.filmla.com/forms.php and fill it out. Take the form, along with a letter (on Oxy letterhead dated within the last 30 days and signed by your professor that states your name, class number or program of study, and a statement certifying that your project is strictly for “non-commercial educational purposes,” to the Film LA office at least one week before your shoot. It will take them at least four days to process your request and then you will have to go back and pick it up and pay the student permit fee in cash (usually $25). If you don’t pick it up, you they will fine you heavily. Film LA permits are location, date, time-window, and action-specific. If any of these variables change, your permit is rendered invalid and will require you to go through the full process again with a new permit fee assessed.
Film LA Address:
1201 W. 5th Street, Ste T-800
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Phone: (213) 977-8600
Fax: (213) 977-8610
Open M-F 8am – 6pm
If you are shooting at a Park or a Beach, you will need an additional permit. The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks deals with LA City parks. Most beaches are handled by the County Permit Office, except the Santa Monica beach. A lifeguard is required when there’s someone in the water for all beaches. When you meet with the representative at Film LA, he/she can help refer you to the proper office if extra paperwork is needed. If you are shooting in a large area, such as the Angeles National Forest, be sure to know exactly which section you’d like to use. Bringing a map that you marked will help them immensely and show that you’ve thought carefully about your location.
Different cities in Los Angeles county have different rules regarding student filming. If you’re filming in a city other than Los Angeles, make sure to go online and do a search before starting the permit process. Almost every city has their filming guidelines posted online, and it’s a good idea to call the number provided and find out more specific information regarding student shoots. Some charge extra fees while others require a police officer to be present if you’re filming near a public street. Start the process early, and do your research before presenting your proposed location to your professor. If you need any help with locations, you can set up a time to meet with our Student Production Coordinator in the Cage.
Remember that wherever you end up shooting, you are representing Occidental College. Be respectful and courteous to those who have helped you secure locations, and make sure that your shoot stays on schedule.
Helpful Location Resources
The California Film Commission is a useful resource for students. They can help you find locations and other things. They do not charge application or permit fees – however you will be required to pay wages of any State employees required on the set. They’re online at www.film.ca.gov.
The CFC has a Location Library at CinemaScout.com – a GREAT resource, and you can browse through the listings free of charge.
Different parks fall under different jurisdictions. The City of LA Dept of Recreation and Parks deals with LA City parks. The Park Film Office is at http://www.laparks.org/dos/ranger/parkfilm.htm, and (323) 644-6220. M-F 8:30-5:00.
Griffith Park, owned by the County of LA, will generally waive permit fees for students. If your shoot requires a Park Monitor (night shoots, generators, using restricted areas, more than 15 crew members), then you will have to pay the Monitor’s wage, which is $38/hour.
Angeles National Forest is also a good place, but have your site picked out first. They have a 72-hour turnaround. Call (626) 574-5271.
Most beaches are handled by the County Permit Office, except Santa Monica beach. A lifeguard is required when there’s someone in the water. www.Beaches.co.la.ca.us/BandH/Beaches/Main.htm
The Pier Restoration Corp handles Santa Monica Pier. They’re at (310) 458-8900, email@example.com and their office is in the Carousel Building on the Pier. They will waive the usual fees for students, but require a $50 refundable deposit AND INSURANCE.
- Phone: 323-259-2749
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Location: Weingart 109