Permitting + Support
Provincial Film Commission
Discover industry contacts, program recipients, productions shooting and more.
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Permitting and Support
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 production activity including parking, traffic control and fire regulations.
There are also regional authorities that represent areas where municipal governments do not exist and/or oversee common resources like water, sewage systems, and transit (e.g. bridges not under provincial jurisdiction, rapid transit, bus systems).
Regional authorities include Regional Districts and Transit Authorities such as Metro Vancouver, Capital Regional District in southern Vancouver Island and the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority (Translink). In the case of Gulf Island communities, The Islands Trust is the regional authority. Where the regional government owns facilities or infrastructure, it is directly involved in location permitting.
First Nations Governments
Indigenous peoples have lived in the geographic area that we now know as B.C. since time immemorial. Indigenous peoples in B.C. remain the custodians of their territories, possessing Aboriginal rights, including Aboriginal title and treaty rights (including First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples), which are set out and confirmed through both the Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982, modern and historical treaties and a series of successive court decisions. B.C. is Canada’s first province to put the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into law, implementing the Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act in 2019.
Outside of municipal boundaries, 94% of all land is Crown land (including land covered by rivers or lakes) and managed by the provincial government. Crown land is available to the public for many different purposes – industry, research, recreation – and generally requires a permit when used for commercial activity, including filming. When applying for a film permit, Applicants should be aware of the Province’s consultation obligations with First Nations and associated time requirements for meaningful consultation.
Formal consultation with Indigenous peoples, when required, is the responsibility of the provincial government as the Statutory Decision Maker. However, before applying for a permit, it’s important for the production to reach out to the impacted Indigenous community(s) prior to submitting a permit application to the Province through FrontCounterBC. The first step is to advise the Indigenous community(s) early of your filming plans and determine if they have any concerns. A face-to-face meeting is preferred for this stage in the consultation and engagement process, but as a temporary measure in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on First Nations, the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation has provided guidance on how to approach consultations with First Nations and Indigenous organizations during this time. After you initiate contact, understand that every Nation has its own unique protocols and governance structures.
In order to determine the territory of the First Nation (or Nations; there may be more than one) where you are filming, consult the Consultation Areas Database. If you require assistance, you can reach out direct to staff in the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation at 1-800 880-1022 (Toll free) or by email at: IRRInfo@gov.bc.ca You can also locate further information, including contact information, regional locations, and other helpful resources on the B.C. government’s listing of all First Nations in B.C.
Other resources include:
Consulting with First Nations Relationships with First Nations Crown Land Use - Film ImagineNATIVE Publications
Provincial Permitting Authorities
A number of Provincial Government departments and agencies are essential contacts for location managers.
BC Parks is dedicated to protecting the province’s world class natural environments for inspiration, use and enjoyment of the public. To support the BC Film and production industry while safeguarding the integrity of the environment and park, BC Parks has a Commercial Filming in Parks and Protected Areas webpage with Policy, Guidelines and the Filming Conditions and Parks Contacts Document to advise those wishing to film within the provincial protected areas system.
B.C.’s Commercial Film Tenure Program makes Crown land available for the production of motion pictures and television programs. It also makes land available for still photography for commercial, educational and promotional purposes.
Regional Film Commissions
Regional Film Commissions 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 commission are 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, making working outside the zone creatively rewarding as well as cost-effective.
Provincial Film Location Policy
British Columbia welcomes a vibrant film and television industry as an important contributor to the economy, and encourages the safe, respectful use of public property throughout the province.
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 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.
Canada's Federal Government
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, fixed wing aircraft, and drones [also known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)].
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.