Written By:

5 Things You Might Not Know About Applying for a Boston Film Permit

Filmmaking in the City of Boston is something many cinematographers pursue. Massachusetts has welcomed filmmaking and largely made the process of coming to the City of Boston to produce video and film content mostly painless. Applying for a Boston film permit is something you’ll have to do if you intend to film anywhere in the city, and this of course means you’ll have to adhere to certain rules and regulations, but they’re all pretty reasonable and easy to follow. In case you haven’t ever applied for a film permit before, or you’re not fully sure about red tape and all the industry jargon that could be used when you pursue your permit, keep reading.

You might not have known these 5 things we’re about to tell you about applying for a Boston film permit.

1. The Massachusetts Film Office is the Best Starting Point for Information

That’s right! Rather than start at what may have seemed like the obvious place and call the City of Boston, because if you searched “Google” for “Boston Film Permit” and found that “City of Boston” came up first, followed by “Boston.gov” 

You should begin your inquiry with the Massachusetts Film Office. They are not necessarily who will provide you with a Boston film permit, in fact they won’t but they will provide you with the details you need to get the permit you require.

2. If you’re Looking for Low-Budget Filmmaking, Avoid Boston

It’s not so much that film permits are expensive, because they aren’t too costly overall and in some cases are even free, but even $20 and $30 at a time adds up and it will add up quickly if you’re shooting in Boston because you’ll almost certainly be required to secure multiple film permits.

In addition to a Boston film Permit, you’re going to need permitting and support from the local Policy, Fire, and various other departments. Each will likely have an expense involved.

3. Local Support Services are NOT Free Like they are in Some Cities

That’s right, don’t expect that along with a Boston film permit will come the support of local services such as Fire or Police. These all have day rate hire fees and minimum mandatory balances.

For example, if you require the support of Boston PD, you’ll have to pay for at least four hours at a time, so if you need 5 hours, you’ll have to pay for 8. Additional costs above 8 hours in a day will result in an hour-by-hour add-on. Rates for PD are generally around $50-$70 per hour. 

Similarly, for local emergency medical services, increments of at least 3 hours at a time must be paid for. Medical staff, vehicles, and services can be included in a production. Rates for medical services range from about $55 to $150 per hour depending on the service and need. 

4. A Security Bond is Required Before You Apply for a Boston Film Permit

That’s right, before you can apply for a permit you’re going to have to get your finances in order because a Security Bond in the amount of $5,000 or more will be required to ensure protection to city property.

This means that you’re going to need to bring cash to a local bond provider to secure the bond. Additional insurance requirements are also in place as well.

5. A State Parks Film Permit is Required if Filming in a Park

Not all parks are State Parks, but if you intend to film your Boston production in a state park, you’ll have to apply for a State Parks Video Production Permit that is separate from the various city of Boston permits.

When you apply for a Boston film permit additional information will be prepared for you based on other requirements that will be set forth.

Be prepared for a lot of obstacles and just do your best to remain patient as you apply for a Boston film permit. Eventually, it will all come together.