I recently had a client call ask me if she needed a film permit for a location on private property. I did not know the answer, though I assumed the answer was yes; as usual I like a challenge. I contacted Sheri Davis (951.779.6700) of the Inland Film Commission, a person who I know very well. The answer is yes one does need a film permit in California for any location, private or public. The cost of the permit varies from a couple of hundred dollars to five-hundred (approximately), plus monitor fees, peace officers fees, etc.…. depending the location and size of the crew. Most locations need at least five days to pull a permit. If you plan on shooting in a national park like Joshua Tree, you will need at least two months to pull a permit. The reason, most parks, national or state do not have the staff to handle all the permits that come into their offices, so one needs to be patient. There are always substitutes for Joshua Tree; in Pioneer Town, there is a wonderful butte that looks like the park and it is on private land. Sylvia from Locations Unlimited (760.861.4144) can assist you if you have questions about these locations, plus she can assist you with other locations.
There are always other options when you can’t find the exact location you need, and I understand that sometimes projects come up at the last moment. Recently I had a client call me and they needed to find a location for a music video that they were producing in a couple of days. My client wanted a diner somewhere in the Mojave Desert. My two favorite diners is the Four Aces and Club Ed (310-839-5722), because of the budget, Club Ed was the more affordable location. I went scouting with the client and his team was blown away with Club Ed. Club Ed is larger than the Four Aces; there is a motel, with several rooms in 1950’s décor, a swimming pool, a diner and a gas station, plus several 60’s era trucks. For an additional fee you can shoot at the buttes behind the motel. If you shoot on 150th Street, you will need the appropriate film permits and the CHP for road closure. There is plenty of parking across the street, there are no restroom facilities, so you will need a portable restroom or a motor home, and the nearest town is thirty minutes away in Lancaster. Lancaster is a great place to lodge your crew; there are plenty of restaurants and a mall. Club Ed is about an hour and half from Los Angeles. Film LA (213.977.8600) will handle your film permits, make sure to make two copies and assign someone to fill out the paper work, and have it ready.
California in general is a very affordable place to do your next project; the rules are different than other states, but very film friendly. If you have any questions about this blog or location ideas please feel free to call me Mike Green 818 317 7099.