It is not a secret that Los Angeles is one of the most photogenic cities in the world. Thousands of people want to take pictures and film in Los Angeles. The city of Angels has numerous beautiful locations that are known to many. But there are also unknown places, which are not a popular destination for people. Previously I have written an article about amazing locations for headshots in Los Angeles. If you want to find a couple of the most beautiful places in this city, make sure to read my article. Los Angeles is a dream location for the ones who produce films and create one-of-a-kind projects. As a headshot photographer in Los Angeles, I know how important it is for filmmakers to find breathtaking scenes. I am also always in search of new places.

If you have decided to make your first steps in Los Angeles, I am sure the result can be admirable. But before filming in Los Angeles, there are a couple of essential aspects that you have to pay attention to. You can’t just rent a film set in Los Angeles, and film wherever you want. This city has its orders, and you may need a film permit before filming in Los Angeles. If you are a beginner, then you may not be very well informed about the film permits. I will try to give answers to all the questions that may bother you connected with filming in Los Angeles. 

About a Film Permit

In order to be able to film in a particular region, you need to have a film permit. Without official permission, you will not be able to produce a film. The absence of permission may also lead to unpleasant consequences. In order to get permission, you have to submit specific details about the production of the film. Those details should include the exact date and time of the filming, the location, information about the crew, and equipment. There may also be other additional information that you may need to indicate, about which you will prior be informed. Of course, you should get the permit before the actual shooting day. It is essential to know that it is your responsibility to gain permission. 

As a headshot photographer in Los Angeles, I always try to make sure that I always have the required permission. In every situation, it is better to prepare in advance than face unpleasant charges later. I know many students from Los Angeles acting schools, and I am already informed about the filming rules and laws. 

If you are new in the industry, it is crucial to understand where and how you can get permission. Make sure to check the FilmLA, in order to know how to get a permit for filming in Los Angeles. It is essential to get information only from official sources. 

When You Should Have a Film Permit

You will need a film permit before starting the filming. If you are filming in Los Angeles to gain profit, in most cases, the permission is obligatory. But there are cases when even the non-profit project shooting may need permission. To be sure whether you need a permit, you have to check it in the exact location you want to shoot. One of the cities where you need to have permission to shoot even a non-profit project is Santa Monica. 

If you are filming something for your pleasure, for fun, and with your friends, you will probably not need permission. In addition to that, your project should not include serious equipment and crew. If you plan to rent a film set in Los Angeles, it may mean that the filming is professional and needs a permit. Remember that before filming in Los Angeles, you should check whether you need to have permission. As a headshot photographer who takes affordable headshots, I recommend you to research before starting. 

Do Students Need a Permit?

In reality, students may also need a film permit. But the good news is that for students it may be cheaper to get the permit. If you check the FilmLA website, you will find all the fees for a film permit there. Of course, you should show proof that you are a student, and your instructor should also give you a statement. The statement should indicate that the filming is for educational needs and that you are not going to sell it. If you are new in the industry then it may be easy for you to get permission. The reason is that there are many resources that will help you; you just need to use it wisely. And also, people who give the film permit try to help students in many ways. 

As I take affordable headshots for actors, I know that students from Los Angeles acting schools participate in educational filmings. And they always say that the conditions to get film permits are favorable for them. 

Do YouTubers Need a Film Permit for their shootings?

As Youtube is becoming one of the most popular platforms, more people are creating accounts and filming videos. So this question is one of the most famous and important ones. There is no one definite answer to this because everything is individual. For example, someone may film just for fun and alone in different locations. In this case, if you are not going to make money from that, then probably you won’t need a permit. But if you are filming in Los Angeles and posting it on Youtube to earn money, then you need a permit. So I recommend you to specify your intentions and understand your situation. 

Today there are a lot of resources, which makes it easier to find answers to our questions. Be sure to be aware, in order not to be in stressful situations later. I know many cases when people were filming in Los Angeles, and they didn’t have a film permit. As a result, they faced the consequences, which, of course, disturb all the process. 

The Costs of Getting a Film Permit 

The cost depends on a couple of factors. The main element is the location where you are going to film. So the price may vary depending on which city or in which place you want to film. The cost may start from $60 and rise to $700. In order to understand the exact amount, you need to specify every detail connected with filming. As I mentioned above if you are a student, then the fee will be even less than $60.

So as you can see, you have many privileges as a student. If you are not a student, then the film permit costs may seem a little scary for you. In any case, it is better to pay that money rather than face all the charges later. 

The film industry can be costly, so you have to be ready to deal with all the high costs. But the result is worth all the difficulties that you may face in the process. In addition to this, if you dream of becoming a film producer, I am sure nothing can stop you.

The process of Obtaining a Film Permit

As I have already mentioned above, FilmLA is dealing with giving film permits. So the whole process goes through this non-profit organization. Below I will provide a step-by-step guide for the entire process. 

Contact with FilmLA

In this process, FilmLA will be your number one helper and adviser. I highly recommend you to contact them before deciding where your location will be. They will help you in choosing one and will give you all the information about the requirements. As they are very professional and have the knowledge, I am sure they will make the process effortless for you. You can also choose a couple of your desired locations, before calling them. Tell them about your plans, so that they understand your condition, and they will help you in finalizing your decision.

Provide a Proof of Liability Insurance

One of the first steps that you have to take is to provide proof of liability insurance. In this case, also, there may be variations in the requirements. The differences highly depend on the location and all the activities that you will take. Once again, this is also very individual. Many aspects are taken into consideration. Before starting any type of filming in Los Angeles, do your best to understand all the requirements. It may take time, but this is an essential part, as it may prevent you from misunderstanding. 

Submit the Application for Permit

The next step that you have to do is to submit your application with the FilmLA. This is one of the easiest steps, and you can quickly submit it online. Maybe in the process, you will be asked to provide some information about additional requirements. If you face any problem during this process, make sure to contact the specialists. This is very important because it is better to ask than to provide the wrong information. Note that the FilmLA website is very informative and detailed too. Overall this is a simple process, and I think you will not face any serious problem.

Notices to People who Live in the Shooting Location

One of the essential parts of this whole process is to inform residences and businesses of your desired location about your filming. FilmLA will distribute to them the notices so that they are informed, what is going to happen in the neighborhood. They should be informed about your activities and all the essential details about filming in Los Angeles. For example, if during your shooting there are going to be noises, then people should be aware of it. In this case, you, as a film producer, will be more confident. And also you will know that people are not going to complain about you. 

The payment

The final step to finish this process is payment. There are many payment methods, and you can choose the one which is the most convenient for you. You can pay both online and offline. This makes the process more convenient and fast. More details about the methods you can find on their website. Without the payment, you will not be able to finalize your application for receiving a film permit. Once you pay, you will see that you have finished the form. You have done everything from your side, and now the only thing that you can do is wait. 

How Long Will it Take to Get the permit?

It will take a couple of days until your permit gets approved. The average number of days is 3, but there may be some variations. There are many applications, and the representatives need time to analyze everything. In the process, there may also be other work-related delays. So I highly recommend you not to leave this at the last minute. For your confidence, start this process at least a couple of weeks before your filming. This will help to prevent you from stressful situations. As a headshot photographer in Los Angeles, I know about the harmful effects of the delays on work. 


I have tried to include everything that you may need to know about a film permit. You can use my article as a guide for you in this process, and I will be happy to help you. Right now, there is too much information, and I have tried to choose the essential ones. Also, you can check out my website Stepanyan Photography. I am sure you will find there many useful articles about Los Angeles. If you have chosen Los Angeles for your shooting, I can assure you that you can have magnificent scenes. I live in Los Angeles for a long time, but every time I discover new beautiful places. Discovering something new is one of the greatest parts of my work. Filming in Los Angeles can be one of the most memorable and delightful experiences, so get your permit and start your journey. 

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