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FAQs for Filming in St. Pete/Clearwater

Check out our frequently asked questions about filming in St. Pete/Clearwater.

May I use a gun or other weapons in my movie?

Yes, but you MUST have a law enforcement officer on set during filming. Note that any scene that involves the use of prop or real weapon or the depiction of violence (e.g., fights, yelling, etc.), you must hire a local law enforcement agency within the municipality or unincorporated area (i.e., Sheriff's office) where you wish to film. Visit our Police Services page to learn more. Also, for your information and entertainment, watch our Don't Be That Filmmaker video. Please allow yourself ten (10) business days before production to apply for, pay, and schedule law enforcement officers/deputies.

When or why do I need a permit to film or take photographs?

If you're filming on public property (i.e., city or county owned property), then you'll need a filming permit. Public property refers to parks, a public beach, a sidewalk, a street, on, near, or inside a public building, such as, libraries, court houses, police stations, etc. If you plan on blocking a street or managing intermittent pedestrian traffic, you'll need a permit and possibly Police Services.

But what if it's on private property?

Then you may not need a filming permit UNLESS your production will be utilizing technical trucks, parking on public property (i.e., along the street), using generators, lights, smoke machines, noise generators like audio boom boxes, loud music and otherwise being a noise nuisance to the neighborhood. You also may not need a filming permit if you're filming from a motor vehicle or from a boat on the water (i.e., not boots or equipment on Terra firma). The best way to know if you'll need a permit is to apply for a permit. We will let you know. Only make sure you add as much detail about your production as possible.

How much does the film permit process cost?

The film permit process and the permit itself are FREE! However, there are fees associated with applying for a film permit. For example, those productions requiring the hiring of law enforcement (see question above), parking, road closure permits, private location fees, and the cost for commercial, general liability production insurance.

Do I need production insurance?

Yes, but it depends. Most (approx. 96%) of productions require a commercial, general liability insurance policy when filming on public property. Visit our insurance page for more info. If you don't currently have a policy, we suggest contacting Filming on privately-owned property *generally does not require an insurance policy *except under certain conditions. When in doubt, apply for a film permit and we will tell you if you need a policy.

How long does it take to get a film permit?

The Film Commission does not approve filming permit applications. We only issue them once we and the various municipal or county authorities have thoroughly reviewed your application's information. We require five (5) business days before principal photography to audit your application for accuracy and completeness. The more complex your production (e.g., various locations in different cities, parking needs, law enforcement needs, etc.), the longer it will take for those authorities to review and approve your request. Other locations like, for example, Heritage Village require ten (10) business days before principal photography. We suggest giving yourself a minimum of 10-days.

Can you help me find a film job?

While we're not an employment agency, we do post casting calls and job announcements on our website and on our social media channels. We recommend you sign up for our newsletter, follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Also, consider adding your name to our Production Guide. Lastly, think about joining one of the local film-related groups and/or societies like Women in Film and TV - Tampa Bay, the St. Pete Clearwater "Sunscreen" Film Society or the Tampa Bay Film Society.

I need a location, can you help?

Yes! We maintain a comprehensive database of hundreds of film-friendly locations within Pinellas County. Go to our location page and search for a location, or you may contact us for additional assistance. And if you know of any cool locations that are not in our database, please contact us and let us know.

What other services does the Film Commission offer?

We can help you find a crew, take advantage of our Business Development Program, and enhance your skills through our workshops. Give us a call or send us an e-mail and we will do our best to provide direction or answers!

I want to fly a drone, what do I need to do?

When you apply for a permit, check the box for using a drone. Note that the St. Pete Clearwater Film Commission does not issue filming permits for projects utilizing any Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). We only advise productions to ensure that their drone operators adhere to and comply with the conditions listed on the operator's FAA Section 333 Exemption, if applicable, or the requirements included in the FAA's Part 107 Rule for commercial use of small drones weighing less than 55 pounds. Visit our drone page for more info.