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Filmmaking In San Francisco: Commission & Regulations

Rules & Regulations For Local & Out-Of-Town Productions

When people think of filmmaking, they often consider the usual suspects: Los Angeles and New York City. However, San Francisco has a thriving filmmaking community, one that supports both visiting productions from television and film to a burgeoning local scene. It is overseen by the San Francisco Film Commission, a group of eleven people that oversee filming guidelines and regulations within the city. In addition to governing filmmaking within the city, the commission is an advocate for Bay Area filmmaking, supporting local projects and promoting the community at large.

shooting-film-sfFilming within the actual city of San Francisco can sometimes be a complex process given the density and busy nature of the city. However, the commission strives to streamline this process by helping to set standards and expediting the approval process. Here are the general guidelines for filming in San Francisco:

San Francisco Film Guidelines, Fees, & Restrictions

San Francisco’s guidelines are designed to ensure that both residents and filmmakers are both supported during the production process. General filming hours are 7 AM to 10 PM. This complies with the city’s noise ordinance limits. Special nighttime/early morning filming permits are available upon special approval, including a majority approval by neighborhood residents. In addition, neighborhood notifications must be posted to inform residents of what’s happening. The film commission can also provide application forms for street closures and parking permits for special vehicles.

Filming fees vary between $100 and $300 per day based on the scope and size of the production. Insurance is required for filming within the city, and additional fees are required for special hiring of San Francisco police officers. There is an exception to fee rates for local artists and productions working on small (under $100,000) budgets. To learn more about these special rates, contact the city film commission. Applications for all permits are available on the film commission’s website.


Large Soundstages Near San Francisco

Permits and film commission approvals are required for outdoor shoots within the city. For indoor soundstage filming, Meets the Eye Studios is within a 30-minute drive of San Francisco down Highway 101. Conveniently located in San Carlos, Meets the Eye offers two soundstages — including one of the Bay Area’s largest pre-lit green screens — and an immaculately kept facility with video feeds, Wi-Fi, and a commercial-quality kitchen. For both out-of-town and local productions, Meets the Eye Studios offers an exceptional space for filmmakers by filmmakers; schedule a free tour today to see for yourself.