- PERMITS & RESERVATIONS
- Film, Video and Photo
Film, Video and Photo Permits
Please allow a minimum of 10 business days for review and processing of film and photo permit applications.
Many popular films have been shot in San Francisco park locations. Some of the most popular include: Bicentennial Man, Dirty Harry, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Princess Diaries, The Rock, The Wedding Planner and many others. Television shows, advertisements and other photo shoots choose our parks. We are dedicated to helping to make it happen. All film, video or photo production on Recreation and Park Department property requires a Film Permit if the production could be sold or the photographer or crew is paid. This includes non-profit productions.
All commercial film, video or photo production (Film) on Recreation and Park Department property requires a Film Permit. Commercial film, production is defined as any activity that results in a film, video or photograph being sold, or any activity involving filming or photography for which crew and/or talent is paid. This includes "non-profit" productions. This also includes wedding pictures if the photographer is paid. It does not include photography or video for personal use, however tripods even for personal use are restricted in certain areas.
All Film Permits require the coordination of the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department’s Film Permit Office (415) 831-5500 x 4, with a minimum of ten working days notice prior to date of the shoot.
The Recreation and Park Department issues its own permits for interior work and work in revenue producing facilities (e.g. Kezar, Coit Tower etc.).
Filming is not encouraged on weekends, as this is the busiest time for parks, and staff supervision is limited. Filming is generally prohibited in Golden Gate Park on weekends and on the first Tuesday of each month, as this is Free Day at museums and tends to be very busy.
Film, video and photo production companies must adhere to the following rules and regulations when working on Recreation and Park Department property. Any exception must be requested at least 48 hours prior to the location production by calling the Film Permit Office at (415) 831-5500 x 4.
ALTERATIONS TO PARK PROPERTY. No tree, shrub or other plant material may be trimmed, pruned, altered or removed without express permission.
EXCLUSIVE USE OF PARK AREAS. Permittee must acknowledge that the primary purpose of a park is to serve the public. If permission is granted to temporarily exclude the public from certain areas for production purposes, the Permittee must use the utmost courtesy in doing so. A notice including the company's phone number, along with the time and duration of the closure, must be posted at the site at least 48 hours in advance.
DRONES (Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Permits are required for any drone flight that is on, from, within and over City property. San Francisco Recreation and Park and Film SF follow the guidelines set out by the California Film Commission. All drone permits require a licensed pilot as well as a $2M General Liability Insurance policy naming our Department as additional insured. For most of our properties, when permitted, we only allow a straight up-and-down flight pattern. Drones cannot operate over roadways, buildings, or people; and a secure perimeter would need to be established for usage. UAS flight is not allowed above 400 feet. Use of drones for a film or photo permit require the staffing of a park ranger, with a three-hour minimum fee.
FOGGING EQUIPMENT. Generation of mineral oil based smoke, mist or fog is not allowed. Permission to use water based fogging equipment will be considered upon request.
PARK STAFF. Permittees must follow the direction of the Department Employees, Gardeners, and Recreation Directors at all times. If a dispute arises, you should contact the Permits Office.
SECURITY. The use of private security guards requires prior approval from the SFRPD Permits Office. Any private security vendor must be licensed, bonded, and unarmed. San Francisco Park Code 4.01(b) prohibits firearms on Park properties, except for Police and Park Rangers.
STAKING, DRILLING. Because of irrigation lines, staking is not permitted. If permission is granted to install tents, equipment, sets, props (etc.) they must be secured by sand bags, water barrels or some other approved manner. Nothing may be attached or tied down to any structure, park bench, tree etc. without express permission.
STRUCTURES, SETS. Structures, sets or other props (other than hand held) are not allowed without express permission.
VEHICLES. Production vehicles must be parked on the street. The Permittee may not prohibit or obstruct vehicular or public access to park streets and roads without express permission.Permission may be granted to use a paved pedestrian path only for the purpose of loading and unloading equipment. If permission is granted to traverse a paved pathway, special care must be taken to keep tires on the pavement, particularly at corners. Failure to do so results in permanent soil compaction. If it is not possible to traverse the entire pathway in this manner, planks, plywood or other approved protection must be used.
WASTE MANAGEMENT. The capacity of existing trash barrels and dumpsters is based on the normal public usage of the facility. Because of this, the Permittee is not allowed to use existing dumpsters and barrels, and must remove from the site any and all garbage or refuse generated by their production and/or food catering.
STILL PHOTOGRAPHY Updated 12/20/2021
$50 - Student(s) Photo permit fee (per day, per site). Required paperwork: a copy of your student ID and a letter of confirmation, on school letterhead, from the instructor of the enrolled class.
$318 - Simple non-intrusive exterior still photography (per day, per site).
$797 - Large exterior still photography shoot including, but not limited to, one or more of the following: crew/cast size greater than 20 persons, major props, automobiles, pools and/or other interiors, or requiring on-the-job* staff presence or preparation (per day, per site).
*On-the-job staffing means that on-duty RPD staff is able to provide minimal assistance without significant interference with their normal work activities. Examples include opening a gate, unlocking a chain, or providing materials such as a water hose. Any major production requiring a full time staff presence (gardener, security or trade) shall pay for this staff time at a rate of one and one-half times the staff’s normal hourly rate. The Department shall also be reimbursed for any lost revenues or other costs that may be incurred because of the permitted activity.
FILM & VIDEO Updated 12/20/2021
$50 - Student(s) Filming/Photo permit fee (per day, per site). Required paperwork: a copy of your student ID and a letter of confirmation, on school letterhead, from the instructor of the enrolled class.
$318 - Documentary (per day, per site).
$797 - Simple, low impact film & video shoots with cast/crews of 35 or less (per day, per site).
$1,594 - Large commercial, television and feature film projects including, but not limited to, one or more of the following: exclusive use of park areas, crowd control and/or major props or set dressing (per day per site). $500/day for set up or breakdown per day, per site.
$7,971 - minimum Facility or property usage, per day per site, (to be negotiated by the General Manager) - Major productions having major and unforeseeable impact on the Department.