Local governments play a key role in the production process by providing production companies with access to government services such as police and fire and coordinating the use of public property, parks, and all other municipal services required when shooting a production on location. Most municipal governments have film guidelines available online which cover issues including parking, traffic control and fire regulations. Many have full-time motion picture coordination staff.
There are also regional authorities that oversee common resources like water, sewage systems, and transit (e.g. bridges, rapid transit, bus systems). Regional authorities also represent some unorganized territories where municipal governments do not exist.
Regional authorities include Regional Districts and Transit Authorities such as the Metro Vancouver District, Capital Regional District and Greater Vancouver Transit Authority (Translink). In the case of Gulf Island communities, The Islands Trust is the agency responsible. Where the regional government owns facilities or infrastructure, it is directly involved in location permitting.
The band manager or chief of a First Nations Band must be contacted before any scouting or filming can take place on First Nations Land.
For more information, please visit the website at
Regional film offices are committed to providing excellent support and service to productions taking advantage of the diverse and spectacular locations British Columbia has to offer.
Each regional film office has experts in their area and provides on-the-ground assistance with scouting, surveys and access to locations. They provide vital resources to producers taking advantage of the BC Regional Tax Credit. They have also committed to participate in the expansion of the Creative BC digital photo library by creating a comprehensive inventory of each region’s unique locations. Regions are eager to welcome filming to their area and the BC Regional Tax Credits can make working outside the zone creatively rewarding as well as cost effective
The British Columbia film and television industry is an important part of British Columbia’s economy. This policy is designed to encourage access to British Columbia's diverse location resources and to ensure fairness and consistency in the allocation of public property to filmmakers in the province.
1. The government will start from "yes".
Requests to use public property for film activities will be approved wherever reasonably possible.
2. Decisions will be timely.
Recognizing that filming is a time-constrained activity, decisions will be made within five working days.
3. Decision makers will be accountable.
The decision maker will always provide a written reason when use of public property is denied. The Minister responsible for film in British Columbia will receive a copy of the written reason.
4. Decision-making processes will be transparent.
All information necessary for filmmakers to access public property will be made as accessible as possible and government will endeavour to make information centrally available through a one-window approach on the Internet.
5. Fees will be competitive.
Fees will be globally competitive, and consistent for similar properties. The number of location fees per production will be minimized. Fees may vary based on time and intensity of use. Fees will be reviewed against competitors on a regular basis.
6. Administrative processes will be streamlined to be as simple and accessible as possible.
Government will continue to eliminate unnecessary red tape and develop streamlined permitting and contracting mechanisms, including electronic mechanisms.
7. Public services must be delivered.
Filmmaking on public property should occur with a minimum of inconvenience to the public. No essential government service will be impaired by film activity.
8. Industry will assume appropriate risks.
The costs of production, liabilities and reclamation and remediation, where appropriate, are among the risks assumed by the industry and not government.
9. The Code of Conduct for Cast and Crew, developed by Creative BC, should be adopted.
All productions should adopt this Code of Conduct, which is representative of government's minimum expectations for activity on locations.
A number of Federal Government departments and agencies are also essential contacts for location managers.
Transport Canada is responsible for Air, Marine, Rail and Road Transportation in Canada. The Department approves any aircraft use, including helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans regulates ocean fish habitats.
Environment Canada oversees wildlife habitats and federal parks.
Heritage Canada operates several national historic sites and national park reserves available for filming. A list of these sites, grouped by region of British Columbia and by type of site, is online at:
British Columbia offers a range of airport and seaport locations, most of which are operated by a locally based authority. For example, seaports in Vancouver, Fraser River, North Fraser, and Prince Rupert are the responsibility of the regional port authorities.
Various airports also offer filming locations, including Vancouver International, Boundary Bay, Abbotsford, Pitt Meadows, Langley, and the Helijet service in Vancouver Harbour. Some, such as Vancouver International Airport, have developed guidelines for filming.
Every member of the production has a responsibility as ambassadors of the film industry to maintain the privilege of shooting on location in this Province. It is important to remember that you are not only representing yourself, but also all film crews that come before and after.
- Producers, cast and crew will follow the provisions of their motion picture production permit, a copy of which must be on location at all times.
- Filming only takes place during the times listed on the permit unless extensions are granted.
- Pedestrians should always be treated with courtesy and not be obstructed at any time unless stipulated in the permit.
- All cables and similar items are to be channeled neatly and safely.
- Producers must notify the public in writing whenever production activities may directly affect or disrupt their daily lives. The notice must include the name of the company, working title of the project, production type (e.g. feature, MOW, TV series) and a brief description of the activity. It also must include a clear account of the date and time of disruption.
- All catering, construction, strike and personal trash must be removed from the location.
- Locations must be left in original condition.
- Removing or cutting signs or plants from any public or private location is not allowed.
- Production vehicles must not arrive before the time stipulated on the permit, should arrive one at a time, and should turn their engines off as soon as possible.
- Cast and crew vehicles are not covered by the location-filming permit and must use designated parking areas only.
- Production vehicles shall not block driveways or gated access without permission.
- Vehicles shall not display signs, posters or pictures that the public may find offensive or objectionable (i.e. material containing vulgar language or sexual content).
- Crew cannot move a private vehicle to accommodate filming or parking, without permission of the owner. If a vehicle is parked in a restricted area, the appropriate authority will remove it.
- Crew must drive safely and legally, complying with all applicable traffic laws and regulations. Treat the neighbourhood as if it were your own.
CAST AND CREW
- Cannot trespass on private property. They must remain within the boundaries of the property that has been permitted for filming.
- No alcohol is permitted at any time on any set or location.
- Must be served their meals, and eat, in the designated areas.
- All trash from meals must be disposed of properly upon completion of the meal. All napkins, plates, coffee cups used in the course of the work day shall be disposed of in the proper receptacle.
- Production should restrict smoking to designated areas only, considering special circumstances specific to the neighbourhood. Cigarette butts must be disposed of in the appropriate containers.
- Shall keep noise as low as possible at all times and refrain from using lewd or improper language.
- Shall wear appropriate clothing – for example, T-shirts with offensive slogans are not acceptable – and comply with appropriate employee safety regulations.
- Will wear a production pass, as required.
- Will not bring guests or pets to the location, without advance permission.
- Be polite, considerate, responsible and professional
Thank you for honouring this Code of Conduct.
Actsafe partners with B.C.’s entertainment industries to keep workers safe. The organization is dedicated to the promotion of workplace health and safety in the motion picture and performing arts industries in British Columbia.
Their mandate includes providing health & safety information, education, and training for the performing arts and motion picture industries in our Province. Actsafe has publications, posters, videos and access to industry specific health and safety consultation
When the industry perceives a need, Actsafe responds.
Transport Canada must approve any aircraft use, including both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. manned and unmanned. The Aircraft Company is responsible for contacting Transport Canada.
Typically a permit requires ten to twenty days for approval, and a fee is charged for the application. Permits are typically arranged by the pilots of aircraft on behalf of the Producer/Production Company.
Creative BC is committed to promoting guidelines that safeguard the welfare of animals involved in motion picture production in British Columbia.
Permits are required for any lighting equipment and other use of electricity. Some cities handle their own electrical permits. These include Burnaby, Maple Ridge, North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District, Surrey, Vancouver, Victoria, and West Vancouver.
Most other cities and towns require a provincial permit.
You can apply for the Electrical Temporary Entertainment Installation Permit at:
The Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)
- Locations and dates for filming of effects
- Effects to be used and their fabrication
- Anticipated result
- Safety measures to be taken
Copies of Event Approval and Pyro Effects Plan/ Letter of Intent must be available on set.
Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)
- Fire Chief/Fire Protection Office
- Police Forces
- Designated representatives for event approval or site inspections
Demonstrations (Show and Tell)
A demonstration may be required to determine if the effect can be performed safely. It is understood that this is not always feasible in film and television production, due to the one-off nature of many performances.
If you are based outside of Canada, and you are participating in the production of a pyrotechnic special effects event in Canada, you must:
For information on the certification of pyrotechnics and pyrotechnical personnel, please refer to the website:
Municipal fire departments must be notified when staging any stunts related to fire or explosions. Typically, a fire fighter plan is required, involving the presence of fire or water trucks.
Where firearms are visible or audible to the public, municipalities may require that a police officer be present. In many cases, only 1/4 loads can be used.
The use of firearms for motion picture activities requires both federal and provincial licences. The federal business firearms licence specific to the motion picture/theatrical production industry may authorize a business to possess firearms (including prohibited firearms) and other prohibited items such as prohibited devices and prohibited weapons.
For more information or questions about the federal business firearms licence, please contact the Chief Firearm Officer for British Columbia at:
The Firearms Act addresses the use of firearms and other prohibited items for the purpose of motion picture/theatrical productions.
The Firearms Licences Regulations includes specific provisions for the motion picture/theatrical production industry in regards to:
- A Non-residents’ Sixty-day Possession Licence (Borrowed Firearms) – Section 10, 3(g) and 4(g); and,
- The prescribed purpose for a business to possess prohibited firearms and other prohibited items – Section 22, (f) & (g)
The Special Authority to Possess Regulations references the temporary transfer of a replica firearm to a transferee who does not hold a federal firearms business licence for the purpose of motion picture activities (i.e. a licensed supplier temporarily lending a replica firearm to a Prop Master):
- Temporary Transfers of Replica Firearms – 8(a)
CONTROLLED GOODS DIRECTORATE
The Controlled Goods Directorate (CGD) is a Federal Government Program administered by the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC).
The CGD is a domestic industrial security program that helps strengthen Canada’s defense trade controls through registration, prevention, deterrence and detection, and prevents the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and of conventional weapons. This is done by regulating and controlling the examination, possession, and transfer in Canada of controlled goods and/or controlled technology.
Anyone who deals with controlled goods and/or controlled technology in Canada is required to register with the CGD. The CGD is legislated by the Defence Production Act (DPA) and the Controlled Goods Regulations (CGR).
Most highway shoots require the use of certified traffic control personnel.
On roadways within municipal jurisdictions, producers may have to contact local police to provide traffic control.
Private traffic management companies are often approved to provide traffic management and planning services in most municipalities.
Food Premises Regulation
Craft Service Vehicles, which include but are not limited to trailers, converted motor homes, or other self-contained units, may be required to meet the description of a Food Service Establishment as defined in the BC Food Premises Regulation.
For this reason, the owner/operator of the vehicle must apply to the local Health Authority for approval and to obtain a valid Permit to Operate.
Typically, producers hire a location manager or scout to find potential locations for filming. They might visit a specific area looking for suitable sites, or they may use our locations library, which contains close to 18,000 locations from across the province.
Productions should also inform Creative BC regarding who is scouting locations for their production.
+1 604 730 2732
The Provincial Government encourages its property managers to register with Creative BC's Location Library, particularly buildings or other structures (e.g. dam, bridge, ferry terminal).
We also encourage other levels of government and private property managers and owners to register their properties as well.
The first step of location registration is to create a location “photo file” of your property – a virtual tour in pictures.
Locations being considered for a production should be pre-booked with the local municipal film office or relevant agency to ensure there are no conflicts regarding their use. These conflicts can include road construction, other film production activities or other events occurring in communities. In some communities there are seasonal restrictions as well.
You can find contact information for municipal liaison offices and other approving authorities under
Production personnel should provide the following information to the local permitting authority to ensure the proposed activities comply with local guidelines and bylaws.
- Forward an application form to all jurisdictions in which the production will be filming (ie. City of Vancouver Film Office or City of Burnaby Film Office).
- Visit their websites for Guidelines and Procedures.
- Outline any special effects or gunfire associated with the proposed location (note: approvals for these activities may take extra time to process).
- Obtain a photo release from the property owner if it isn’t in the location agreement already; this is important for the legal use of trademarks and signs in a production.
To help ensure community buy-in, location managers should visit neighbours to explain the proposed project. It is also recommended that property owners contact their immediate neighbours in consideration of their decision to host a motion picture production on their property.
It’s a good idea for the property owner/manager to ensure someone is available to escort the location manager, and answer any specific questions.
After the initial visit by the Location Manager or Scout, a property owner/manager should expect additional visits by key creative production personnel. This is a process of elimination and your property may not be chosen in the end.
The process of choosing a location begins with a site visit by the producer’s location manager or scout. The manager will probably take pictures of your property and gather other information such as:
- Sun exposure
- Ambient noise
- Vehicle access and parking
- Elevator and stair access
- Power availability
- Equipment and holding areas
Often productions evaluate a number of sites before one is selected. To be chosen is like winning a location lottery.
The final decision to use a location is the responsibility of a creative team, not just the location manager.
Changes in schedule or budget, could affect this decision even after a location has been chosen. Property owners/managers should be contacted ASAP if their property is not being used as a location. Visiting producers should be kept informed regarding local regulations.
A copy of Best Practices Code of Conduct should be provided to all crew members, and Producers should be notified of any location restrictions or regulations such as noise bylaws.
Successful location owners/managers should be provided with complete details of the proposed shoot, and a draft Location Agreement for consideration and review.
If not already done, every production company should visit the Creative BC website to register their project using the online formIt also includes information sheets about motion picture production. These forms can be used when local government or private property forms are not available.
Once preliminary surveys are complete and the production has decided on the location, the company should provide a letter of application for use.
The application or letter of intent should include a brief outline or “treatment” of the project, and should indicate the role of the location in the story. The property owner/manager may also want to request copies of the script pages where the location appears. If the location appears extensively, a copy of the entire script may be requested. All script material should be treated as confidential, and the production company may require a non-disclosure agreement.
The property owner/manager’s primary concern should be to consider whether the production can be accommodated without unduly compromising one’s own needs, public use of the property or the business that goes on inside it. Motion Picture Production can be inconvenient and impactful.
The timing and duration of the shoot, disruption to public access and delivery of services, environmental impact, public safety and security all need to be assessed. Whether it is a private home, business, park, prison, hospital or highway, the location’s primary function is not filmmaking; however most people tolerate the inconvenience created by motion picture production due to the benefits to our economy.
Filming activities may have a minimal impact on the public or environment, or it may be a complex shoot that requires more involved deliberation, including impact and risk assessments. Property owners/managers may also want to assess the application in terms of how the property will be portrayed. Typically a property is not portrayed as itself. If the property is being portrayed as a fictional location, it may be required that all visual identification of the site be masked by the production company.
The following is a check list for private property owners/managers to follow while in discussion with the
- Use of your personal property in filming, safe storage of items not being used, and details for packing and moving personal property. It is usually up to the Producer to cover any of these costs.
- Cast and crew use of washrooms, water, electricity, laundry machines and kitchens; smoking restrictions; trash removal; and, protective floor covering.
- The use of special effects such as atmospheric smoke, snow, fire, gunshots, or simulated explosions.
- Any areas off-limits to cast and crew
- Any alterations the production requires (painting, construction, gardening).
- Positioning and parking of heavy equipment and vehicles.
- Alternate accommodations and basic living expenses for you and your family during the shoot.
- Clean up and remediation requirements (again, usually the responsibility of the Producer).
A Location Use Agreement should also hold the production company responsible for all the activities on your property during the shoot, and release you of liability. The producers should also give you a copy of their relevant insurance papers before shooting begins.
Time constraints are critical to motion picture production. The BC Government is committed to facilitating use of locations within five working days and local governments and private property owners are encouraged to do the same or better.
This goal is easy to achieve when the production is simple, short and will have little impact on public use of property or program delivery. Where the proposal is more complex, or involves a higher level of community impact, completing the process required and documentation may take longer.
Filming proposals may present a problem for the property owner/manager. An immediate response should be provided if this is so. The location may be unavailable at the particular time requested, or it may be immediately apparent that the application is likely to be approved, pending satisfactory negotiations on minor issues. In such cases, it is courteous and helpful to give the production company that information.
Where approval from more than one agency is required, the Provincial Government is developing new strategies to coordinate the approval process. A standardized application for use is being developed that will facilitate filming and will also help producers avoid being billed more than once for use of the same property.
Most production companies have their own Location Use Agreements or contracts. These should identify the parties and set out all pertinent data including the time and duration of the shoot, the specific uses of the location and the number of people and vehicles involved. Relevant drawings and maps should be included. Issues such as liability insurance and any costs or fees should be itemized.
Fees refer specifically to charges by property owners/managers for the use of the property. You do not have to charge a fee, but it is a reasonable and normal expectation. Fees can typically range from $500.00 to $1500.00 per day, depending on the needs and complexity of the production. Preparation and restoration periods are usually charged at half the production day rate. As this is not a regular form of income to most property owners, one should consider the financial implications while negotiating.
The Provincial Government has a Fees and Licenses Review process and is committed to fees that are reasonable, competitive with other national and international jurisdictions, and consistent among agencies.
Production companies may offer services or goods-in- kind as an alternative to fees. These may be landscaping or construction services, props or structures that were built for the production that may be of use to the agency/property owner. This is a valid practice and one that can provide benefits that exceed the financial benefits of charging fees. The production company must assume liability for, and indemnify the government or property owner from and against, any damages resulting from actions of agents of the company and must provide proof of insurance coverage.
There are a number of considerations involving safety and security. The location itself may present risks, such as electrical generating facilities, industrial sites, or correctional institutions. The property owner/manager should provide the production with detailed guidelines regarding filming in restricted areas, and on the property. These should be included in the contract. If an agent of the property owner/manager needs to be present during filming, this should be clearly stated in the contract and may also be considered a cost item for the production company.
- A few simple considerations will make the production experience easier for all:
- Residents, businesses and others who may be impacted by the shoot and any related disruptions should be communicated to in writing within 2 - 5 days in advance.
- Detailed photographic representation of the current state of a location should be documented to ensure the property can be restored to its original state after filming is completed.
- Those directly impacted by production activities should be contacted to address any concerns. The location manager should speak directly to neighbours next door and across the street.
- The location manager must ensure that all relevant permits and permissions are in place.
- The location manager must ensure that all parking, unit base camp, access, staging, toilet, security, power, recycling and waste removal requirements have been met.
Film-making is an unpredictable business. Weather, availability of key cast and crew, access to other locations and a host of other creative factors can affect the shooting schedule. Since re-scheduling or even dropping a location can be a minor irritant or a major disruption, location managers are expected to employ their best efforts to avoid such changes.
Where change cannot be avoided, property owners/managers should be prepared to be flexible and accommodating; avoiding arbitrary rules and assessing each case on its individual merits.
If for some reason the property is not available for a requested re-shoot, the property owner/manager should make every effort to propose alternative times or locations.
In situations where disruptions in the filming schedule have cost implications (for either the property owner/manager or producer), or in situations where disputes arise (e.g., when application for use requested is turned down), Creative BC should be contacted and will investigate and if appropriate, attempt to arbitrate.
The production should deal directly with any location owner, neighbourhood or municipal concerns. Serious incidents should be documented.
Detailed lists or photographs of damages should be communicated to the property owner / manager ASAP
- Location Managers should ensure the crew has completed all equipment removal and clean up. Thank you letters should be distributed to the location owner and neighbours requesting them to provide feed back to Creative BC or Local or Provincial Film Permitting Office.