One of the most popular requests we see for locations is a beautiful, sandy beach, and the question: can you film at the beach? Since beaches are so rarely privately owned, you’ll almost always need to reach out to the local municipality/city and get permission to shoot on their beach.
Doing the research to make sure you’re allowed to film on a beach can feel time consuming, overwhelming and just plain tedious. We’ve compiled all of the information you’ll need for your next gorgeous, beach shoot, from costs, permits and best practices, for our top 5 cities: New York, Chicago, Toronto, Los Angeles, and Miami (and Miami Beach). The information here is meant to give you the best idea of what to expect but we’ve also included the links to the appropriate websites where you’ll find applications and extra details.
How to film at a beach: New York
For the most part, the city of New York allows for a lot of flexibility when it comes to permitting and bases its requirements on the size and type of production. If you’re requesting exclusive use of City property (including public parking spaces), this is where you’ll definitely need to consider a permit.
You’ll need a permit for that perfect beach location if you’re a production with anything more than just hand-held camera, camera on tripod or hand-held items.
What does not need a permit:
Productions using hand-held camera, camera on tripod, hand-held props and/or hand-held equipment, not claiming exclusive use of City property, not using prop weapons, prop vehicles, stunts, actors in police uniform and not requesting parking privileges for production vehicles do NOT need a permit. Standing on a City sidewalk, walkway of a City bridge or within a City park while using a hand-held camera and not otherwise asserting exclusive use of City property is NOT an activity that requires a permit.
How to file a permit:
If you’re applying for a permit for the first time, you’ll need to fill out and purchase the New Project Application (non-refundable fee of $300.00). You can find more information about this here.
Need to shoot on a beach for a small project with some handheld equipment that won’t disturb the beach’s everyday use? No permit required. Need to kick people off the beach and have a private set? Purchase that permit here!
How to film at a beach: Chicago
To put it simply: You’ll need a permit to shoot at any public space or City owned location, including City of Chicago beaches (considered to be part of the Chicago Park District). Chicago Park District has a specific contact you can reach out to to get those permitting requirements (tell them Set Scouter sent you).
Special Event & Media Permits for the Chicago Park District
The cost for a permit includes the application fee ($35), and the permit fee ($45-$1,935 per day) depending on the size of the crew, talent, vendors, volunteers, etc. at your shoot. You can find more information about the fee structure, and apply for your permit here.
You’ll need a permit to shoot at any Chicago beach, which will need to be purchased through Chicago Park District. This does not include parking.
How to film at a beach: Toronto
In Toronto, you’ll need a film permit in order to film at the beach and all city parks.
The good news is, the film permit itself comes at no cost to you. Where you can count on seeing some fees is if you plan to park your production vehicles on metered streets. Let the Toronto Film & Television Office know and they’ll add those parking fees to your permit, are based on the number of production vehicles, metered spaces used and the duration of your parking.
You can submit all film permit requests, production information, insurance certificates and park maps through their web portal, FilmPAL.
You’ll need a permit to shoot at any Toronto beach, which will need to be obtained through FilmPAL at City of Toronto at no cost. Parking permitting can be done there as well, with extra fees.
How to film at a beach: Los Angeles
It’s safe to assume that you’ll always need to have a permit in order to shoot at the beach in LA. Permitting regulations set up by The Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, that requires that anyone “engaged in the business or activity of filming” for television or public exhibition must have a Film Permit.
All Film Permits are processed through Film L.A, and cost a minimum of the application fee ($699), with more fee information here. Film L.A. is a great resource for your shoot, and will act as the coordinator between your production and the Department of Beaches and Harbors to help you get the right permit and make sure your shoot is approved.
Film permit fees are determined by the extent, size and invasiveness of your production. The bigger it is and you may be asked to pay for personnel fees from other Los Angeles County Departments or agencies whose approval and involvement are required. 72-hour notice is required for all Film Permit requests.
You’ll need a permit to shoot at any beach in Los Angeles, which can be purchased and coordinated through Film L.A.
How to film at a beach: Miami
For all shoots on public property in Miami-Dade county and its municipalities, Film Permits are required; including roads, sidewalks, parks, beaches or public buildings. Luckily, your film permit will come to you at no cost, UNLESS you’re using a drone. There is a $100 application fee to get your drone permit.
Find more info to obtain youR film permit from FilMiami here.
You’ll need a permit to shoot at any Miami beach, which will need to be obtained through FilMiami at no cost. Fees for drones apply.
How to film at a beach: Miami Beach
Miami Beach has really thought about everything when it comes to filming on its beautiful beaches, and with a few distinct details to note.
Your handheld, single camera production (with no models, assistants, or other crew, no large props and not blocking sidewalks or businesses) does not require a film permit – think small photography project. Anything bigger and you’ll definitely need a “Miami Beach Citywide permit”.
The Miami Beach Citywide Permit allows for small teams (typically twelve people or less) with minimal equipment to film on Miami Beach streets, City beaches and parks assuming the production does not block pedestrian or everyday traffic. It also allows for specific equipement, including camera, tripod, reflectors and battery operated lights. You are not allowed generators or cabling is allowed. No reserved or authorized parking is allowed, including vehicles on beaches or parks.
The Miami Beach Citywide Permit is the easiest way to film on the beach and is completely free! Apply for a permit in Miami Beach here.
Need to get your vehicles and base camp on the beach? In this case you’ll need a Vehicle Access Pass.
Each of your vehicles that you’d like on the beach will need a Vehicle Access Pass, including any catering vehicles. The passes require an off-duty escort at all times, and the cost is the first pass is free and each additional at $150.
During the summer months from June through September, passes are half price as an incentive: the first pass free, each additional at $75.
Contact the Film & Print Office directly for more info at 305.673.7070 or firstname.lastname@example.org
You’ll need a permit to shoot at any beach in Miami Beach, which will need to be obtained through the City of Miami Beach at no cost. This does not include parking.