Filming Guidelines

Scene in San Francisco

Filming Guidelines

Below please find the information for the following topics:

  • Neighborhood Notification/Film Notice Guidelines
  • Requesting Police Support for Filming
  • Requesting SFMTA Charter Vehicles
  • Requesting to Shoot on Port Property
  • Street/Lane Closures
  • Directional Sign Posting
  • Production Safety Considerations
  • Green Filming


Neighborhood Notification/Film Notice Guidelines

Film notices must be distributed 72 hours before the shoot date/time.

  • Please hand out the film notice during the day between 8am-8pm and by 6pm for businesses.  
  • Distribute to residents/ businesses on both sides of the street and 300 feet (half block) past the first/last parking space you are posting and where you are filming.
  • For apartment buildings, please leave a film notice near the call button using blue painter’s tape only.
  • For businesses, go inside the business and leave the film notice with the on-site manager.
  • For homes, roll up the film notice and leave it on the door handle, under the door mat, or tape with blue painters tape near the mail box (if mailbox is near the front door).
  • If you are distributing a translated film notice, please sure to distribute both English and the other language film notice.  Please use double sided notices to lessen the amount of paper being distributed.
  • Do not place film notices into the mailboxes of residences or businesses.
  • Do not tape or staple film notices onto poles along the sidewalks within the neighborhood.
  • Please remove film notices from buildings after filming if they are still posted.


Requesting Police Support for Filming

The Film Office will determine if SFPD officers are required for support at a filming location within your permit application.  Please note that SFPD is required for any filming involving street closures, intermittent traffic control (ITC) or scenes involving simulated violence or prop weaponry use.  If this applies to your shoot, please be sure to check the box for “Street Closure”, “Intermittent Traffic Control” or “Simulated Violence” on your permit application’s location page.  If you know your production will need to request police support, please fill out a File SFPD Request and submit it with your permit application.

If you anticipate needing officers for your shoot, please consider the estimated Fees


Requesting SFMTA Charter Vehicles

The Film Office will help coordinate the charter of any SFMTA-operated vehicle for filming.  SFMTA requires all productions to charter a vehicle, regardless of crew size, if you are intending to shoot on board rather than from the sidewalk.  Types of SFMTA-operated vehicles include:

  • Cable Cars
  • Historic Street Cars
  • Motorized MUNI Buses
  • Trolleys
  • Light Rail Vehicles

Requests for SFMTA charters must be booked ten (10) business days in advance.  

SFMTA Muni Inspectors are also required if there is intermittent traffic control occuring on a street where SFMTA-operated vehicles run even if there is no charter.  

If you know your production will need to request a charter or inspector, please fill out a File SFMTA-Muni Request and attach it with your permit application.

Additional charges will apply for a vehicle charter or inspector use.  If you anticipate wanting to rent a vehicle for your shoot, please consider the estimated Fees.


Requesting to shoot on Port Property

The Film Office will help coordinate the filming on most properties under the Port of San Francisco.  This includes most piers and areas of the Embarcadero.  If you know your production will need to request to film on Port property, please fill out a Port Request and attach it with your permit application.


Street/Lane Closures

All Street and Lane closures are permitted by SFMTA. Coordination with the Film Office and SFMTA is required before closure applications will be approved.

All applications for closures must be submitted no less than 5 business days in advanced.

To download a closure application from SFMTA's website please click here.

Street Closure Application Fees can be found here.    


Permitting to Film with an Unmanned Aircraft System (Drones)

A request to use an Unmanned Aircraft System for filming over city property under jurisdiction for Film SF to permit can be considered, but there are several requirements involved.  Drone filming activity operating under a 333-Exemption or with 14CFR Part 107 and the appropriate waivers will be reviewed for approval if the locations fall under jurisdiction of the Film Office to permit. Please click on the above link for all information and resources.

All materials must be delivered to Film SF seven (7) business days prior to the requested shoot date in order for the office to consider processing requests for film permits that include the use of drones, and be aware that the process will not begin until all required documentation has been submitted.

Please note that requesting to film with an Unmanned Aircraft System requires the production to provide additional insurance as laid out in the Film Permit Application Use Agreement.  In addition, productions will be required to provide public notice of their flight plan through AirMap.

Current drone filming that has been approved for operation within the city of San Francisco can be found at 


Directional Sign Posting

Many productions find it useful to post signs throughout the City to help guide crew to their locations. Please note that signs up to 8 ½” x 11” may be posted without permits as long as they are promptly removed after filming has wrapped. Please review the Department of Public Works’ Guidelines for Posting Directional Signs (pdf) for a complete explanation of the rules surrounding sign posting in San Francisco.


Production Safety Considerations

Film SF, SFPD and members of the local production/filmmaking community came together to create a list of suggestions for increasing safety while filming in San Francisco.


Green Filming

We want to work with productions to minimize their environmental impact while working in San Francisco. In order to do this we have compiled green information and resources for Green Filming.