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Updated B.C. Film Location Policy and FAQs

Thank you to government and industry partners who helped ensure that the B.C. Film Location policy is updated, relevant and current for 2023, complete with a new FAQ. This important high-level framework positively supports the relationship between the Province of B.C....

Below is a step-by-step guide for what to expect when productions film on location in B.C., from scouting to wrap.

Step 1 | Scouting + Locations Library

During pre-production, productions 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, showcasing thousands of locations from across the province.

How to Register your Property

Step 2 | Location Availability

Locations being considered for a production are pre-vetted by the locations teams by contacting the permitting authority to ensure there are no conflicts such as construction, events, or other film productions. If you have questions about permits being issued in your neighbourhood, you can find contact information for municipal film offices here.

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, City of Burnaby Film Office, etc.).
  • 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.

During the pre-production process, location teams may also visit neighbours and nearby businesses to discuss proposed plans. At this point the production will still be in the planning process (pre-production) so the plans may still change or the filming may not happen at all.

After the initial visit by the Location Manager or Scout, a property owner/manager should expect additional visits by key creative production personnel. The final decision of whether to use a property or not is mostly to do with creative and logistical concerns so your property may not be chosen in the end.

Step 3 | Approvals and Permitting

Once preliminary surveys are complete and the production has decided on the location, the Location Manager will want to enter into contract with the property owner and firm up details of the filming, prep and wrap days.

Filming activity in a neighbourhood can create parking, noise, and traffic congestion that can impact other residents and businesses. Therefore, a production company is required to gain permission from the municipality (or applicable authority) prior to filming. Please be aware that issuance of a permit is not guaranteed.

The following is a check list for private property owners/managers to follow while in discussion with the
location manager:

  • Use of your personal property in filming and details for packing and moving personal property. It is usually up to the Production to cover any of these costs.
  • Cast and crew use of washrooms, water, electricity, household appliances 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. Make sure to ask about the need of fire alarm deactivation if special effects are taking place.
  • Arrangements with the Location Manager regarding daily access to the property by the film crew.
  • Any areas off-limits to cast and crew.
  • Any alterations the production requires (painting; removing doors, window screens; 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 Production).

A Location 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 filming begins.

Step 4 | Responding in a Timely Manner

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.

Step 5 | The Agreement

Most production companies have their own Location Agreements or contracts. These should identify the parties authorized to sign the agreement and set out all pertinent details 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, special requests 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 depend 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.

Step 6 | Preparing for the Shoot

A few simple considerations will make the production experience easier for all:

  1. 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. Most permitting offices have requirements for the process of delivering filming notices.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The location manager must ensure that all relevant permits and permissions are in place.
  5. The location manager must ensure that all parking, unit base camp, access, staging, toilet, security, power, recycling and waste removal requirements have been met.
Step 7 | The Schedule - Prep, Shoot + Wrap

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.

Step 8 | During the Shoot

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

Step 9 | Wrapping

Location Managers should ensure the crew has completed all equipment removal and clean up is satisfactory. If there are any unforeseen damages or impacts, the production should follow up and rectify them as soon as possible. The motion picture industry strives to always leave properties in the same shape or better after filming on location. Concerns about productions failing to do so can be directed to Industry + Community Affairs at Creative BC

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