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  • Film Office

Office of the City Manager

  • Filming in your Neighborhood

    Why does Pasadena allow filming to occur?

    Ever since 1896 when Thomas Edison Company filmed in our fair city, Pasadena has been a popular filming location for the entertainment industry.

    According to a 2001 payroll audit by the Motion Picture Association of America, $333 million dollars in production payroll is paid to Pasadeneans employed in film production each year: a major benefit to our local economy ensuring the funding of vital community services such as police and fire.

    The number of filming days allowed in a residential neighborhood is limited to 6 days per calendar quarter (15 days in a non-residentially zoned area) by the Zoning Code. The City of Pasadena has a Film Office that issues film permits and works with the neighborhoods and film companies.

    What can I expect to occur during filming?

    There are three types of companies which film in Pasadena: motion picture/television companies, commercial companies, and industrial/educational/student/video productions. A production can have anywhere from one pick-up truck for an educational film to 15 trucks for a major feature film.

    Student/educational/video productions are small and not very noticeable. They usually involve a maximum of 12 people, a small van and a few cars.

    Commercial companies will usually bring 5 small 20 foot trucks on location and 15 to 30 people. The trucks usually carry prop equipment, electrical cables, dollies and a camera. A small shuttle van will shuttle the crew to the location. They usually film during normal waking hours (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and cause minimum disruption in the community. Over 75% of the production that occurs in Pasadena is commercial.

    Motion picture/television productions include the same equipment as commercials as well as motor homes for their actors and a catering set-up. Motion picture/television trucks tend to be longer (a maximum of 65 feet) because they need a larger variety of materials. The crews are also larger, usually 35-125 people. Film crews are required to base camp their personal cars, catering set-up, motor homes and most of the trucks on private property. You may notice that the police officer will stop traffic intermittently when the companies back their trucks onto the property when they arrive. Shuttle vans will pull up in front of the location property throughout the day to pick up personnel.

    How will I know when a film company wants to shoot in my neighborhood?

    The City requires that film companies provide a written notice on their company stationery to all property owners/tenants within 300 feet of the filming location on each side of the street. This notice includes the company name, the dates and times of the proposed filming, the geographical area affected, the area to be posted with "no parking" signs, and any construction and set removal plans.

    What are signatures of permission?

    Signatures are required at all times from property owners and tenants affected by filming or parking in front of their property. Signatures guarantee that those directly impacted have been notified. Additional signatures must be obtained if a company proposes to film past 7 p.m., but no later than 10 p.m.: a majority 51% of signatures within 300 feet of the filming location on both sides of the street. After 10 p.m. or before 7 a.m., 90% signatures are required (Sunday – Thursday) & 75% on Friday and Saturday.

    How will the city know where the company will park and conduct the filming activity?

    All film companies who plan to park or film on the street must prepare a parking plan. The parking plan shows the exact locations where the vehicles will be parked on a street. The addresses of surrounding properties are listed on the parking plan along with the width and length of the roadway. The Film Liaison compares the parking plan with the signatures of permission. If a vehicle is placed on the map in front of a property where a signature is not listed, the Film Liaison will deny the parking until a signature is obtained. A copy of this map is provided to the on-site police officer who is assigned to the shoot to ensure permit compliance.

    What can I do if I have special concerns regarding the company's activity?

    Any property owners/tenants with concerns regarding the company's activity should inform the company representative, usually the location manager, who will be stopping by for your signature. Most companies will be very interested in meeting your needs, since they want to establish a positive relationship with the Pasadena community. However, you are certainly encouraged to notify the Film Office of any concerns at (626) 744-3964 before the filming occurs. The Film Office may attach special conditions to the permit which address your specific concerns.

    If you have some difficulties when the company is on location, immediately notify the Pasadena police officer at the location. The police officer is an employee of the City, not the film company. They are there to ensure that the company is in compliance with the permit requirements. If you believe that the police officer is unable to resolve the situation, you may request that the officer contact the Film Office staff who can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by cell phone.

    How does the city determine if my neighborhood is a frequently filmed area?

    If a total of 6 days of filming have occurred in a residential neighborhood (15 days in commercial area) over a 90 day period of time, the area is considered frequently filmed. Hours of filming and parking will be limited. Construction and set/prop removal days will be included as part of the quarterly filming allocations on these permits. The Film Office may add other special conditions or deny a permit altogether in an area which has met this legal definition.

    How do I rent my house to the film industry?

    Contact the Film Office at (626) 744-3964 and we will send you an information packet regarding registering your house with the City of Pasadena on our web site and in our library. You may register on-line as well. Go to: Register Your Property.

    Also...

    The California Film Commission has created a booklet called "Your Property in a Starring Role" (within the "Filming in your Community" link). This guide provides important information and sample contracts for those who are interested in this opportunity. The California Film Commission has a location library which features pictures of locations around the State. The Commission also maintains a list of location managers and production companies which they will mail to you. This will allow you to mail a brochure with pictures of your house directly to the people who scout for locations. The California Film Commission's number is (323) 860-2960.

    If I decide to host filming, what can I do to create a positive relationship with my neighbors?

    The most important thing you can do is be involved! It is recommended that you do the following:

    1.  When a company plans to film at your property, volunteer to walk around with the company representative while they notify your neighbors and obtain signatures.
    2.  Encourage your neighbors to call you directly if they have questions or concerns. Be responsive to their needs.
    3.  Request that the film company show you a copy of the approved film permit.
    4.  Designate someone in your family or among your employees as a monitor. This designee should be present during all filming hours and watch to ensure that the company is complying with the permit.
    5.  If you host filming more than once in a great while, show your appreciation to your neighbors. Acknowledge their support by inviting them to dinner, sending them a beautiful gift basket, or throw a block party once a year and invite all your neighbors.

    You can also simply talk to your neighbors on a regular basis. Find out if any problems occurred and what could be changed so filming will run smoothly next time.