Is This Legal or Illegal Filming? Three Things to Watch For 

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legal or illegal filming in los angeles

With so much filming taking place in Greater Los Angeles – more than 100 projects on any given day – it's important that it take place legally, safely, and with respect for the neighborhoods where it happens.

This is why every film permit coordinated by FilmLA goes through a rigorous, multi-agency government approval process. It is also why community outreach programs, including neighborhood notification, location monitoring, and use of filming surveys, are so relied upon by our office.

Filming for commercial purposes in areas served by FilmLA requires a valid film permit, and for obvious reasons. The community impact from filming can at times be quite significant, and when it happens without neighborhood input or awareness, the consequences can be very serious.

How can you recognize and take action against illegal filming in your community, helping your neighbors in the process? Here are a few things to look for:

(1) Know Your Notice of Filming

Most permits coordinated through FilmLA include advance distribution of a blue Notice of Filming to residences and businesses located near the filming location. The Notice has details about the planned activity, the Location Authorization number for quick reference, and points of contact should you or your neighbors have concerns. Even student film projects require advance notice, although students are allowed to distribute their own information without a blue form. If filming is happening next door and you and your neighbors know nothing about it, there is a chance the film company may not have a valid permit. In this case, it is worth a phone call to FilmLA to confirm. Illegal filming is subject to shutdown and other legal penalties at local law enforcement's discretion.

(2) Note Where Crew are Parking

Lack of access to parking is the number one concern neighbors have when filming is planned on their street. Knowing this, FilmLA and its city and county partners limit filmmaker access to street parking, and in most cases require cast and crew vehicles to be parked off-site with production personnel shuttled in. If “No Parking” signs are hung on your street to make room for an upcoming film production, you can expect that space to be filled with large production vehicles: box and stake bed trucks, make-up trailers, portable generators, etc. Outside of their limited parking allowance, production companies should never overrun your neighborhood with cast and crew cars. If you see this happening, it is likely against the rules and if you contact FilmLA, we should be able to help.

(3) Report Early Arrival & Late Departure

When you receive a Notice of Filming from FilmLA, it will state the permitted arrival and departure times within which the crew must work. Any film activity happening before the stated arrival time – including the early-morning delivery of supplies by production vendors – is prohibited. “Taillights at ten” is a phrase commonly used in the business, referencing the standard filming hours of 7a-10p in residential zones. If the plan is to film late, or even overnight, that information will be highlighted on the Notice of Filming and/or Community Filming Survey, as required.

We Welcome Your Call

If you have questions or comments about filming happening on your street, and you live or work in one of the areas served by FilmLA, we welcome your call at 213.977.8600. After-hours, weekend and holiday support is always available, so please feel free to reach out to us at any time.