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TVFM Guide to Permits, Insurance, and Legal Procedures


Filming Permits

Most public locations require some sort of permit that will authorize your filming at that location. You may receive a fine if you film without a permit, and municipal authorities (such as city police officers or county deputy sheriff officers) may shut down your production.

Things to Know About Filming Permits

  • A permit to film is NOT the same as the insurance that may be required to film in that location.
  • Your filming permit does not indemnify you against anything (for example if something is broken/damaged at the location – the permit does not release you from that liability).
  • A permit does not give you permission to film people at the location. You will need to obtain releases from anyone your film at your location.

Filming Off Campus – Private Location

In private location: you need written permission of the owners of such private locations to film, unless this is your own house.

Filming Off Campus – Public Location

In a public location you are responsible for acquiring proper permits for any location where you film. Permitting procedures and requirements vary by municipality. Generally, the city hall or administrative offices for the place in which you wish to film can provide the information you will need to file a filming permit request. Never assume it is okay to film in a public place without a permit. Here is a link to FilmLA that details the permit process for filming in Los Angeles.

Filming On Campus*

Students who intend to use locations on campus for their projects must follow these steps:

  1. First, contact the University’s Public Affairs Office to ensure that your project will not conflict with other campus activities.
  2. Second, secure written permission from the facility or building coordinator. The use of facilities such as the gymnasium, classrooms, or labs must be cleared through the facility manager of that building. Securing permission to film or record in some major facilities, including the Luckman Fine Arts Complex or the Student Union requires additional steps.

You should allow at least one working week to receive such permissions. Request forms for an on-campus production can be acquired from the University’s Office of Public Affairs.

The student producer should make a copy of the final approval from Public Affairs and keep this document in possession during the filming.

The Campus Public Safety Office must especially be alerted if the filmmaker intends to:

a.) use weapons of any kind (knives, clubs, firearms, etc.)

b.) use vehicles of any kind (skateboards, bicycles, cars, trucks, scooters, etc.)

c.) film scenes involving fighting, blood effect, loud noises or yelling, or any other elements that may cause an unsuspecting observer/passerby to become alarmed.

Campus policies forbid the use of live animals, lewd conduct, open fire, smoke or simulated fog in any filming on campus.

*A permit is not needed to film in the TVFM Specialized Spaces listed in the Equipment and Facilities Policy


  • Student vehicles, or student-owned equipment, cannot be “mandatory” for the completion of academic projects. 
  • A General Release form must be signed and filed in the Department office before using any third party assets for university business. This would include student-owned equipment that the student elects to utilize for a project.


General Liability Insurance

For the purpose of obtaining permits for student film projects, the University provides FilmLA with an insurance letter. This letter, generated by the insurer of the University, covers the General Liability that may be required by the City or County of Los Angeles.

General Liability Insurance is not insurance for the student filmmaker, but rather for the issuer of the permit, that is, the municipality in question. Its intent is to limit the liability of the city that has allowed you to film within its borders.

Students and faculty are forbidden from contacting CalState LA’s Insurance Company. The University does not carry insurance to cover equipment that students check out. All equipment insurance questions should be directed to the Chair of TVFM or the Associate Chair of Production.

Students are encouraged to purchase their own insurance to cover equipment they check out independently. Your professor or the Associate Chair of Production will be able to recommend an insurance company for this purpose.

If a student should need to film in a municipality currently not listed with our insurance company, the student is responsible for obtaining all information required by that city’s permitting authority. In cases where permitting requirements are in conflict with our contract with the insurance company, it is then necessary for the student to purchase additional insurance.


Unauthorized Copying/Piracy

The University forbids any unauthorized copying of intellectual property. This means that with the exception of “fair use” of recorded materials for news stories, compilations, reviews or classroom use, you may not duplicate audio or videocassettes, CDs, DVDs, software, or any online/server based materials without the expressed consent of the owners of those materials. If you are unclear of the terms of “fair use”, please study them before you make ANY copies.

Copyright of Student Created Work and Release Forms

In accordance with CSU policy, all students retain the copyright to their own created works. In addition, Cal State LA students agree to grant Cal State LA nonexclusive copyright privileges to their student-created works for any non-commercial purposes including exhibition, publicity and promotion. As the primary copyright holder and the owner of the student-created work, the student is legally responsible and liable for issues arising from the production including but not limited to those such as problems associated with talent releases, permission and permit problems, use of intellectual property, distribution and financing problems, etc.

Under no circumstances is the University to be held liable for issues arising from agreements or negotiations made between the student filmmaker/producer and other parties, and the student is expressly forbidden from entering into agreements or contracts on behalf of the University. You are strongly advised (and may be required, in some classes) to obtain and keep copies of legal agreements made in association with your work, such as talent release forms, filming permits, etc.


Prohibition of Acting on Behalf of the University

All execution of contracts / agreements on behalf of California State University, Los Angeles are handled in the Office of Procurement and Contracts. There is a specific and limited number of persons on campus with authority to enter into agreements or contracts on behalf of the University. That list does not include students, faculty, departmental staff or even the Office of the Dean.

Students may not present themselves as representatives of the University to any vendors, corporations, or community groups.

If you need additional clarification on such policies and procedures please contact the Department Chair for additional clarification and direction, or contact the Office of Procurement and Contracts.

Student Behavior

The Department of TVFM expects all of its students to act in a courteous and respectful manner at all times. Students should familiarize themselves with the California Code of Regulations/ Standards for Student Conduct, Cal. Admin. Code tit. 5, s 41301, which can be found on the Cal State LA website using this LINK.