Community Filming Surveys: An Overview

FilmLAFor Communities, For Filmmakers, LA Loves Film

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The Community Filming Survey (aka “filming survey,” or “community survey”) is an integral part of the permit coordination process .

Even though dozens of these surveys are conducted each week, their purpose and the rules that govern them are sometimes a mystery to Angelenos.

To speak directly to some of the misinformation out there, here is a short overview of Community Filming Surveys as utilized by FilmLA – when they’re required, what they involve, and who performs them.

Filming Survey Purpose and Function

In some incorporated cities in Los Angeles County, a certain percentage of favorable survey responses bearing original signatures is required in order for filming to proceed. Those being surveyed therefore understand this process as a form of official request for permission to film.

Things work a little differently in all of the jurisdictions currently served by FilmLA. In these areas, Community Filming Surveys are required only in special circumstances, and function only as an information gathering tool. Not all requests for film permits require surveys to be performed. In particular, low-impact filming performed inside of standard filming hours (7a-10p), usually does not require a survey, unless the location to be used is in a sensitive area.

One of the benefits of this process is that it affords community members a higher level of privacy. Anyone a production company reaches out to is free to decline to be surveyed, if they wish.

Responding is still a good idea, though! While it takes time to share your personal concerns about proposed filming with production company representatives and FilmLA, helping us understand filming’s impact on you helps us make permit adjustments to serve you better.

Area permit authorities, which rely heavily on FilmLA’s informed recommendations, are also crucially reliant on the information Community Filming Surveys provide.

Filming Survey Process Overview

While Community Filming Surveys are conducted using FilmLA-supplied forms, FilmLA personnel are never involved in direct, door-to-door canvassing.

Instead, production companies and their representatives are required to conduct the survey canvass directly, in order establish an effective working relationship with stakeholders in the neighborhoods where they plan to film.

The survey process is simple and takes just a few minutes per assigned street address. The survey takers will introduce themselves, show their company credentials, and share details about the planned production activity including dates and hours of filming and likely impact to area street parking and traffic. They will also note planned exceptional activity including special effects use.

After these disclosures, the responding resident or business owner will have a chance to share their concerns with the proposed activity. Any concerns shared verbally with the survey taker are recorded by them on the forms supplied by FilmLA. If a resident or business owner has no concerns, this too can be noted on the form before the survey taker moves on.

Completed survey forms must be turned in to FilmLA for review prior to the approval and release of the film permit. Having collected the survey responses, the production company has access to this information as well.

A production company’s failure to complete a Community Filming Survey or help address the reasonable concerns uncovered through the canvass can place their overall filming plans in jeopardy.

Working With Survey Takers

FilmLA’s Filming Survey Guidelines lay out the process that survey takers are to use when reaching out to local neighborhoods. The Guidelines take into consideration everyone’s desire to have their personal safety, private property and privacy rights respected.

To that end, survey takers are asked not to trespass on gated private property or seek access to the interior of any dwelling. Loitering on private property (whether business or residential) is also prohibited. All survey interactions between community members and production company representatives are to happen from a safe social distance.

If for any reason you are uncomfortable interacting directly with a survey taker, you still deserve an opportunity to share your thoughts about filming with FilmLA. You can call our office to discuss the filming or accept a blank survey form from the survey taker, to be filled out by you and collected by them later.

Working With FilmLA Reviewers

Once the production company has completed its canvass and sends the survey forms to FilmLA, the Production Coordinator working on the permit will review the survey results for completeness.

Involving the local permit authority as necessary, the Production Coordinator will also assess both the overall level of community support for the proposed filming, and any specific conflicts or issues that need to be addressed before a permit can be approved.

If you chose to provide your contact information on your survey response, you may hear from a FilmLA Production Coordinator or production company representative at this stage, offering assistance in resolving your concerns.

Filming Survey Responses and Your Privacy

While it is helpful for FilmLA to know your honest thoughts about proposed filming, you should not use Community Filming Surveys to share information that is sensitive, personal or confidential.

Whatever information you choose to provide via the filming survey is maintained by FilmLA as a private record for a five-year period.

That said, survey responses are not considered part of the film permit and are not subject to public or third-party disclosure, except as required in a court proceeding or in response to a legal subpoena.

Thus, unless you voluntarily exchange survey information with them, your neighbors will not have access to your responses, and you will not have access to theirs. Production companies are likewise bound to maintain your confidentiality.

Finally, survey responses and your contact information will never be rented, sold or used for marketing purposes.  Its only use is to help make living with filming easier for you and your neighbors, to support our creative economy and keep film jobs in Greater Los Angeles.