• Film Office

Office of the City Manager

  • Your Property in a Starring Role


    The California Film Commission (CFC) was established within the Department of Commerce to attract and promote film production in California. The CFC acts as a "red-tape cutter" for production problems on the local level and a an intermediary for businesses and communities in their dealings with film companies.

    The California Film Commission's goal is to make it easier for you to say "yes" and ensure that all your filming experiences are positive.

    This page is designed to give you an overview of the film industry. If you need further information or have further questions, please contact the Pasadena Film Liaison's office for a copy of the CFC's manual.

    Why should you rent your property to the film industry?



    The film industry will compensate you for the use of your property.

    It's Fun

    Film production in your business can be a unique and fun experience for your employees and customers. It provides a break from the routine and can promote a sense of pride in the workplace.

    It Provides Promotional Opportunities

    Filming can attract media of all kinds and can be used to promote your company. If your location is an established set, then that can be used to promote business. You can use that information to attract the public to you.

    It's Good for the Regional Economy

    Filmed and taped entertainment is a $20 billion dollar industry and is the number two export in the United States. As of 1996, the filmed entertainment industry became the number one employer in Southern California.

    The Necessity of Location Filming

    Companies film more on location than on the studio lot because it provides a more realistic look, it's less expensive, and it's faster. If they intend to film on location, we want them spending production dollars and hiring our people here in Pasadena.

    Who is the film industry and why are they in such a hurry? 

    Types of Production, Schedules, Budgets

    There are three forms of production that will be addressed here: feature films, television and commercials. "Preproduction" is the period of time a company has to prepare to film, and it can vary dramatically from show to show. Feature films have the luxury of longer lead times, but television and commercials suffer from severe time crunches. This requires companies to find and secure locations in just a few days.

    The average filming day is 12 hours long, and can cost a company up to $100,000. For features, television or commercials, the scheduling of each production day is very important to keep the show on time and on budget. Scheduling a shooting day means allowing time and money for:

    •  the cast and crew to drive from the studio to the location;
    • parking trucks, vans and trailers;
    • unloading equipment;
    • setting up lights, sets, props;
    • location "moves" (moving the whole operation to a second or third location).


    The First Call

    In most cases a location manager will call you to request the use of your property for filming. After you have determined that your property is available, the first questions to ask the location representative are:

    • type of production (commercial, television, feature film);
    • name of the company - title of production
    • shooting days (how many? nights or days?);
    • hours;
    • any set dressing, prep days;
    • description of activity;
    • number of people and vehicles;
    • pyrotechnics or stunts?

    If you do not recognize the company's name, there are several ways to determine credibility:

    • ask for references from the company's last several locations;
    • ask for the "list of credits";
    • ask for a contact with a parent company (sometimes independents work out of studios);
    • ask for proof of insurance;
    • call and ask the California Film Commission.


    When considering the location request, take into account:

    • how do your tenants feel about filming?
    • can a camera, lights and 30 people fit in the area?
    • is it safe to film there? any problems with fire regulations or building safety? The CFC has a representative who can assist you with these questions.


    Determining Fees

    How much are you going to charge to rent your location? If you are a small business (shop or service), you should be compensated for all lost business while your premises are closed for filming in addition to a location fee. If you are a larger business and not necessarily put out of business for the filming day, but inconvenienced, base your price on the going rate other businesses are charging. Leave negotiating room for differing types of activity and impact.

    We recommend that property owners develop a sliding fee scale that takes into consideration various production budgets, crew size and overall impact. In addition, it is important to charge fees based upon the length of the company's stay. Many times they will ask to film for a half day or less.

    You may wish to have different fees for interior versus exterior filming, with interior being more expensive.

    Decide whether you will have an all-inclusive rate (that includes an on-site monitor, electrician and any other required building services or personnel) or a use fee plus reimbursements. If the latter, then provide estimates to the production company of the approximate cost of these services and personnel.

    The Survey

    If the location works artistically and logistically for both the production and for you, the location manager will return with the director, first assistant director, unit production manager and the art director to conduct the "survey."

    The director or art director may ask if things can be added, moved or removed for the shot. Be as flexible as you can - the director is trying to match the location to the script.

    Final Approval

    Who gives the final approval? Who signs the location contract? If the person responsible for giving approval is unavailable, who may act in their place? Time is of the essence when a production company is making final arrangements for a location. Many locations have been lost because approval for use could not be given in time.

    The Contract

    This is the most important part of hosting film production. It is vital to include as much information in the location agreement/contract as possible.

    You need to determine what your role will be when companies are using only tenant space and no common areas. We recommend that if the common areas of the building are not impacted by the filming, then no contract needs to be executed with the building itself. If the entire property is tenant occupied, then the entire agreement should be with the tenant. If you generally have a "no sublease" clause in your leases, you may want to exclude filming/location use.

    It is wise to require payment or partial payment up front - before the shoot is scheduled to begin. You may also request a damage deposit at this time.


    Most insurance policies for filming on location cover liability up to $1 million. Make sure that the name or your company or business and your employees are named as "additional insureds."


    The City of Pasadena has its own local regulations for filming which is approved by the City Council.  Click here to go to the City's Rules and Regulations .

    Register Your Property for Filming

    To register your property as a location where filming could occur, go to  Register Your Property .