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Clearing the Red Tape: Film Permit & Paperwork Requirements Before Production

It’s common to overlook some of the essential paperwork and permitting documentation required for a film shoot. That is, at least until the shoot day arrives and you find yourself stuck with an entire film crew unable to proceed because, OOPS–someone forgot to handle the paperwork! Don’t be THAT producer! We’re showing you how clearing up the red tape in pre-production will ensure a seamless transition into production on shoot day and that no last minute permitting or paperwork mishaps stall your otherwise flawless schedule.

clearing the red tape

As you reach the home stretch of your pre-production planning, now is the time to begin pulling permits for locations, consulting with the appropriate legal team members to ensure you’ve covered all your bases, and purchasing production insurance to cover your…tail.

Let’s take a look at some of the easiest to overlook, but equally easy to take care of in advance paperwork and permitting requirements that will ensure you can go into your shoot with ease.

Film Permits

Wherever you go to shoot, chances are you’ll need a film permit. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can just casually begin filming on public property without a permit! If you’re not sure whether you need a film permit or not, consider the following:

  • Is your shoot for a commercial production? If so, you likely need a permit.
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  • Will your filming potentially disrupt local businesses, traffic or pedestrians in the area? If so, you likely need a permit.
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  • Will you bring equipment such as dollys, tripods, a generator or other necessities for placement or use in the streets, along sidewalks or anywhere that they could be interruptive of day-to-day operations for existing residents or visitors? If so, you likely need a permit.
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  • Do you intend to use a public area in any way other than its primary intended use? If so, you likely need a permit.

You have a choice. You can NOT get the film permit in advance and risk producing being halted in which case you will be paying cast and crew to stand around and wait for you to get your paperwork in order.

OR, you can get the film permit in advance of the shoot and be prepared so that paperwork doesn’t stall production. Your best bet really is to get the film permit now, rather than later!

Even if you think you can get away with not having the permit, you must be prepared for the least expected situation to give rise to what you’re up to and result in you needing the permit.

There have been instances in the past when producers did not acquire the proper permitting and later were unable to use any footage from the location as a result.

What a huge waste of time and money! Just think about the alternative, which is to be shut down immediately if you don’t have a permit. Surely you don’t want that to happen?

Film Insurance

Another formality that you need to be prepared with before production is film insurance. Production insurance is more than just another expense to be added to the budget. Don’t get caught with your paperwork incomplete and a lack of insurance!

Most locations and financiers will require you to carry some form of production insurance anyway.

WHY? Because literally anything can happen at anytime on set. Injuries can occur. A building that is rented can be damaged. Someone completely unrelated to the production can trip and fall on a cord that was ran along a sidewalk to provide power to a set. Anything. Can. Happen.

Without insurance, all of the above scenarios could be devastating. Property owners can be sued. Production companies can face legal actions. Contracts can be null and void.

Now is the time to get your insurance coverage in order. Don’t wait until something happens on the set and then ask, “Do we have insurance?”

Consider the following film insurance policies to cover yourself prior to the production shoot:

  • A short term policy for the coverage of a single production.
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  • A DICE Insurance Policy for ongoing coverage throughout the year.
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  • An Annual policy that covers you against damage and loss year-round.

camera crew DP

Each of these policies should provide the following forms of insurance coverage:

  • General liability insurance which covers you against damage that occurs to the film location or space where production is to take place. This includes any potential injuries that occur to those that are not working on the film.
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  • Equipment insurance which covers the filmmaking equipment that you bring in to perform the shoot. Equipment insurance covers against loss, damage,and theft of both your owned film equipment and any equipment you rent to make the production happen.
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  • Errors and Omissions insurance which covers against potential unauthorized use or misuse of copyrighted materials, titles, ideas, etc.

The amount and type of coverage that is ideal for you will be based on individual factors relative to your production. Don’t wait until the day of the shoot to find out that you didn’t secure adequate coverage.

Take time out in pre-production to get your insurance in order and to ensure you’re truly ready when the shoot day arrives.

Film Contracts & Agreements

contract agreement

Before principal photography begins it’s important to have film contracts and agreements in place. The types of agreements and contracts that you need in place for your film production will vary based on the type of production you’re working on.

Some of the paperwork you should be thinking about as you’re clearing up the red tape in pre-production include:

  • Right’s purchase agreements
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  • Option agreements
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  • Work for hire agreements
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  • Collaboration agreements
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  • Coproduction agreements
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  • Production entity agreements or contracts such as a LLC or operating agreement
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  • Shareholder’s agreement
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  • Life Rights Purchase Agreements
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  • Above the Line Crew Agreements
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  • Employment agreements
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  • Below the Line Crew Agreements
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  • Deal memos
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  • Actor’s Standard Contracts
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  • Standard Extra Agreements
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  • Location Agreements
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  • Editor and Composer agreements

The production of any film is hard work that involves a lot of negotiations and agreements throughout each stage of the production. It’s important to get all of these negotiations and contractual agreements out of the way before you begin shooting so that they are no surprises in the production process.

If you’re new to filmmaking, all of these paperwork and planning may seem downright daunting. Contact Beverly Boy Productions at 888-462-7808 to bypass all of this and work with a video production company that can clear up the red tape for you and ensure your shoot goes off without a hitch. We’re always happy to help you succeed in the industry!