Frequently Asked Questions Regarding State Film Permits
1. How long does it take to get a state film permit?
All permit applications must be submitted at least four (4) business days prior to the first prep/shoot day. Caltrans ramp and lane closures require a minimum of twelve (12) business days; freeway closures require a minimum of sixteen (16) business days.
Permit information can be submitted from a production company via an online permit form.
2. How much does it cost to film on state property?
There are no permit fees or site rental fees to film on property owned and operated by the State of California. The California Film Commission charges no fees to process the permit, however, a state film monitor or inspector may be required for filming and the state requires the production company to pay the actual costs of the monitor and/or fees associated with reviewing the application. These fees are solely to cover the costs of State film monitors assigned to your production.
3. I have to pay for monitor fees associated with the film permit. How can I pay?
At this time, the CFC only accepts checks or money orders in United States dollars. The check is payable to the State of California and the check's subject line should contain the actual department (i.e., parks, Caltrans, EDD building).
4. I'm planning to shoot on a California freeway. Do I need to have police or California Highway Patrol?
When you request a California Film Commission (CFC) film permit for a highway or freeway, you are asked to contact the California Highway Patrol (CHP) a minimum of four (4) business days (weekends and holidays are not considered business days) who will determine, based on your activity, if CHP needs to be present during filming. Presence of CHP is chiefly to maintain public safety during filming. The CHP is the liaison for filming on all state roads, freeways and unincorporated county roads throughout the state.
Officer Kristi Cardoza
Media Relations Officer,
California Highway Patrol Liaison
Phone: 323.860.2960 x 103
5. My script calls for pyrotechnics and/or explosions. Do I need a special film permit?
All special effects must be indicated on the state film permit. Any filming activity that requires the use of flammable materials, explosive devices or open flames is considered a special effect. The State Fire Marshal reviews these types of requests before a film permit is issued. The State Fire Marshal may assign local fire department staff to be on location to monitor pyrotechnic activity.
State Fire Marshal Liaison
6. Do I need insurance to film on state property?
Yes, the level of coverage is one million dollars ($1,000,000) for general liability insurance. If an auto is required, it is one million dollars ($1,000,000) for automobile liability insurance. For filming activities that involve aerial work and aircraft, the coverage is five million dollars ($5,000,000) and the State of California must be named as an additional insured. The insurance certificate must be written in English and the denomination of funds stated in United States dollars.
7. I'm a student. Do I still need insurance?
Yes, students applying for a state film permit also must have insurance. If a student is currently enrolled in a university or film school, the institution normally provides general liability insurance for students. Students may need to provide their own auto insurance and should contact their university or school's film office to learn how to obtain an insurance certificate for filming.
8. I've wrapped my production. I want a signed release for those rights, how do I obtain it?
The State considers an approved, issued CFC film permit to be your legal approval to use the State locations and images in your project in perpetuity. The CFC film permit, in most instances*, takes the place of a location agreement or signed release.
*California Departments that require both a CFC film permit and a location agreement:
California African American Museum
California Science Center and Exposition Park
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Department of Fish and Game
Department of Mental Health Services
Department of Motor Vehicles
Department of Parks and Recreation - uses the CA Parks form DPR245A
9. I want to film in a court room. Aren't they all State property?
Although State property, the CFC does not issue permits for the court system. Please click on the link below for more information.www.film.ca.gov/countycourts.htm
10. Is there an easy way to determine what is State Property? For instance, Santa Monica State Beach, doesn't the CFC permit this beach?
The following steps will help in determining what is or what isn't State Property:
A. Perform an internet search on the name of the property. For instance, a query on Santa Monica State Beach will take you to the internet page on the State Parks website. On that web page it says the beach is controlled by the City of Santa Monica, so it would be a city permit only.
B. Perform a search on the CFC's location on-line resource database cinemascout
C. You may phone the CFC's location research library at 323.860.2960, Ext. 123.
D. You may phone the appropriate CFC permit coordinator:
Caltrans - roads, highways, Caltrans facilities - 323.860.2960, Ext. 104
Non-Caltrans Buildings and Facilities - 323.860.2960, Ext. 107
Parks and Beaches - 323.860.2960, Ext. 106