How to shoot your video or film at the Santa Monica Pier; Who to contact at the Santa Monica Pier for filming permission and permits
I have worked at Pacific Park on the world famous Santa Monica Pier for over 15 years and part of my job is managing all the film, commercial, music video, television and movie shoots. We have been fortunate and are grateful to be part of film history with such shoots as Forrest Gump, Iron Man, Modern Family and The Sting to name just a few.
However, I often hear from Location Managers, Directors and Producers that it’s very confusing and difficult to navigate the process of obtaining film permits for the actual filming on the Santa Monica Pier and in the City of Santa Monica. In an effort to make the process a bit easier to understand, I’ve outlined the steps required for filming on the Santa Monica Pier, Pacific Park, and at the various other businesses located on the Pier.
Obtain your permit to shoot; this is required for all productions including student films and commercial YouTube videos
A film permit is required for all commercial filming or commercial still photography on any public space in Santa Monica including all parks, Santa Monica State Beach and beach parking lots. Commercial filming and photography includes motion picture and television productions, videos, web broadcasts, commercials, and off-news productions.
Film Permits are also required for student, educational and non-profit filming.
Check to see what dates are available for your production
The first step is to contact Aurora Pena at the Pier Corporation to verify if the Pier is available for your shoot date and receive approval. Aurora can be reached at 310-458-8935 or Aurora@santamonicapier.org. The Pier Corporation offices are located above the Carousel building in Suite A.
Contact City Parking for Basecamps and Beaches
For base camp and crew parking and/or filming at Santa Monica beach lots, please contact Anthony Mazeika with Parking Operations at (310) 458-8295 or 8214 in advance of completing a Film Permit Application with FilmLA.
Check with FilmLA
The next step, or for more information about filming in the City of Santa Monica or in any of the other jurisdictions served by FilmL.A., is to contact FilmL.A.’s Production Planning Department at 213.977.8600 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Their offices are located at 6255 W. Sunset Blvd., 12th Floor in Hollywood, CA 90028.
In 2016, the City of Santa Monica inked an agreement with FilmL.A., establishing the nonprofit as the film permit coordinator for the City of Santa Monica and providing local filmmakers increased access to a variety of unique locations.
To date, FilmL.A. has coordinated several hundred permits for filming in Santa Monica. City permit approvers, community groups like the Downtown Santa Monica PBAD, the Pier Corporation and FilmL.A. staff share effective working relationships, holding the standard turnaround time for film permit approval to five business days or less.
In addition to many public parks and residential properties, the City is home to the iconic Santa Monica Pier, Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier, the Third Street Promenade and the Annenberg Community Beach House. Each year the City of Santa Monica also plays host to the American Film Market & Conferences.
“Among the 10 cities served by FilmL.A., Santa Monica is easily among the most sought after for filming,” observed FilmL.A. Production Planning Coordinator Tim Overbeck. “Filmmakers come to Santa Monica to shoot at iconic, highly-recognizable properties. Ironically, they sometimes stand in for other places around the world – but the attraction’s been clear for films like Jersey Boys, reality shows like The People’s Court and television dramas like Revenge.”
Know where you can shoot; the amusement park is not the Pier
If you would like to film at Pacific Park, the amusement park on the Pier, please contact me, Kristin Wasiluk, Senior Sales Manager at Pacific Park. I can be reached at 310-260-8744 x258 or KWasiluk@pacpark.com. Rates vary depending on crew size, extras, equipment, time and type of shoot. Pacific Park is a privately-owned company and as such have our own film agreements and pricing that is separate from the Pier.
To use Pacific Park as a back drop in a film project, there is a licensing fee of $750 per project.
Follow the Santa Monica Pier Filming Rules and Regulations
The Santa Monica Pier is over 100 years old and there are several rules and regulations that must be followed by film crews. Some of the most important to know are as follows:
Weight Limits: Main boardwalk (Municipal Pier), 10 tons (20,000 lbs). Pier parking lot, 3 tons (6,000lbs)
Vehicle Length: No vehicles over 22 feet in length (with or without trailers)
Vehicles adhering to these guidelines, may travel onto the Main boardwalk (Municipal Pier) or the event lane on the Pier parking lot (at parking lot entrance designated by yellow lines), include: Ford E/F 250, Dodge or Chevy 2500, and stake bed or box trucks with a California OMV Declaration of Weight decal of 20 or less. Vehicles with the California OMV Declaration of Weight decal of more than 20 will not be allowed on the pier. (Example of decal below.) GVW and GCW will not be used to determine weight.
It is at the discretion of a Harbor Patrol Officer that any vehicle that looks overloaded or is capable of being overloaded can be sent out to get weighed so that proof can be presented.
- Vehicles may not remain parked on the main boardwalk or on the Pier Deck Parking lot with the exception of loading or unloading only.
- Vehicles are not allowed to drive beyond Pacific Park at any time.
- Vehicles must be parked at the yellow curb (south side of Pier) during loading and unloading allowing full access for emergency vehicles. The number of delivery vehicles allowed on the Pier at any one time will be at the discretion of the assigned Harbor Patrol Officer.
- No trailers other than single axles will be allowed in the Pier Deck Parking Lot.
- ** Towed generator units must have a weight certificate from an authorized weight station dated 1 hour prior to pier arrival. Weight certificates must be submitted to the assigned Harbor Patrol Officer before being driven on the Pier**
- Gators, Golf Carts, Scissor Lift or Fork Lifts are not permitted on the Handicap/Pedestrian ramps to gain access to the Santa Monica Pier, unless otherwise approved in the planning process for onetime up and onetime down. If approved, the South ramp is the only ramp to be used.
- Scissor Lifts or Fork Lifts must have pneumatic tires (air filled) and may not weigh more than 6,000 lbs. 5/8 inch (or thicker). OSB or plywood must be used underneath the lift during its entire operation on the wood deck.
- Skid steer forklifts (i.e. Bobcats) are not permitted anywhere on the pier.
- No form of ballast other than water containers shall be used for securing large tents or stages. All containers must be filled in place. Any container or grouping of more than 110 gallons must be placed on 5/8 inch OSB or plywood. Cabling through the deck may be used as an alternative that must be approved in the planning process due to other restrictions.
Please contact these Pier businesses directly if you wish to film at their properties.
To shoot on Santa Monica beaches, beach parking lots or Parks, you must obtain site approval from the Community Recreation Division at least 5 business days prior to your film date. Call 310-458-8300 or email email@example.com to obtain site approval.
We look forward to working with you on your next film project!