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California Film & Photography Production Services & Camera Crews

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in California? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.

Filming in California

For an introduction to shooting in California see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.

California Film Locations

California, the home of Hollywood, is one of the world’s most filmed states. Los Angeles has hosted thousands of films including Blue Jasmine (2013), The Dark Knight (2008), Fight Club (1999), The Big Lebowski (1998), Se7en (1995), Pulp Fiction (1994), Forrest Gump (1994), Speed (1994), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), The Addams Family (1991), Blade Runner (1982), Star Wars (1977), Chinatown (1974), and The Godfather (1972), to name but a few.

California is America’s most populous state and the third largest by area. Film locations of interest can be divided into four regions:

Los Angeles is home to famous neighborhoods such as Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice, Studio City, Downtown Los Angeles, Koreatown, Compton and Silverlake. Location of particular interest to visiting productions include the Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry, The Broad contemporary art museum, Petersen Automotive Museum, Griffith Observatory, Hollywood sign, modern mansions and lofts, endless palm-lined suburban looks, skate parks, empty swimming pools, film friendly Second Street Tunnel for car commercials, canals, bridges, highways and overpasses that can be locked off for filming, roof top car parks, Los Angeles City Hall, Beverly Hills City Hall, Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport designed by William Pereira, Burbank Airport, Cadillac Jacks Motel & Cafe 1950’s movie prop, Union 76 Gas Station in Beverly Hills, 4 Aces Film Set, Paramount Ranch Western Town, university and college campuses, Capitol Records Building, Chinatown, Chinese Theatre, Citadel Outlets, sport stadiums and entertainment venues, Globe Theater, Hsi Lai Temple, marinas, Langham Huntington Hotel, Los Angeles Theater, Manhattan Beach Pier, 1950’s diners, Universal Studios, Warner Bros Studios, metro stations, a New York City alley, Van Nuys Municipal Building, The Chemosphere, Ennis House is designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Mataja Residence, and so much more. Santa Catalina Island is located a 1 hour boat ride away. Le Chateau Rose is a beautiful film location. Getty Center was designed by Richard Meier. Los Angeles County Museum of Art was designed by William Pereira. Christ Cathedral, located in Garden Grove, was designed by Philip Johnson. Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is designed by Ma Yansong. Pacific Design Center was designed by César Pelli. Fairmont Century Plaza and the Century Plaza Towers were designed by Minoru Yamasaki. 

Southern California. San Diego offers an impressive city skyline, the USS Midway decommissioned aircraft carrier, San Diego Convention Center, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Salk Institute for Biological Studies designed by Louis Kahn, Coronado Bridge, Geisel Library in the University of California San Diego was designed by William Pereira, La Jolla, mansions, surf beaches, Torrey Pines golf course, sport stadiums, and Hotel Del Coronado.

Other Southern California locations of interest include the Imperial Sand Dunes, Joshua Tree National Park, rivers and lakes, Coyote dry lake, Superior dry lake and salt flats, Carlsbad Flower Fields, Orange County, Disneyland, Volcano House of Newberry Springs, and Spanish missions. Southern California is a good place to visit to see a superbloom that results from unusually wet rainy season. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Richard Nixon Presidential Library are located in Southern California. Palm Springs is known for its mid-century modern architecture including the Hope Residence, Kaufmann House, Twin Palms, Frey House II, Steel Houses, Elrod House, Royal Hawaiian Estates, Del Marcos Hotel, Tramway Gas Station, and Palm Springs City Hall. Edwards Palm Springs has hosted Don’t Worry Darling (2022), A Star Is Born (2018), Mission: Impossible III (2006), Constantine (2005), and Ocean’s Eleven (2001). Air Force Base is a United States Air Force installation located in Edwards. Miramar Naval Air Station, and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton are available for filming.

Central California. Locations of interest include Death Valley National Park (Devil’s Golf Course), Trona Pinnacles, Big Sur (Basic Instinct (1992)), Mount Whitney (the highest peak in the Sierra Nevada Mountains), The Buttermilks, Sequoia National Forest, Mojave desert, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Eureka Valley sand dunes, Freemont dry lake, Owens dry lake, Alabama Hills, Avila Beach, Bixby Bridge, Charlie’s Place, Cinder Mountain, Monterey, Salinas, Fort Ord, Hearst Castle, Santa Barbara, Fresno, oil fields, lighthouses, vineyards, small town America looks, deserted towns, dams, regional desert airports, and Mammoth Mountain ski resort. Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch is a giant surf wave machine located deep inland in outside the town of Lemoore. Alta Wind Energy Centre in Kern County is one of the largest wind farms in the world. Vandenberg Space Force Base, and Mojave Air and Space Port are located in Central California. Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the lower-48. It is the hottest recorded place on earth. Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is known for its bristlecone pines. Solar farms include Solar Star, Topaz Solar Farm, Ivanpah Solar. Fort Irwin National Training Center is available for filming. Top Gun: Maverick (2022) filmed at Naval Air Station Lemoore.

Northern California. San Francisco is known for its iconic skyline, hilly landscapes, cable cars, and unique architecture. Neighborhoods of note include Chinatown, Mission District, Castro Village, Haight-Ashbury, and The Tenderloin. Bridges of note include the famous Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, and San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. The Painted Ladies Victorian row houses are located on Alamo Square. Lombard Street winds narrowly down a hill between buildings. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps is a popular location for photographers. Union Square, San Francisco Armory, Exploratorium, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Alcatraz Island, Ferry Building, SS Jeremiah O’Brien Liberty ship, USS Pampanito submarine, Beaux-Arts style San Francisco City Hall, Transamerica Pyramid designed by William Pereira, Salesforce Tower designed by César Pelli, Coit Tower, Orpheum Theatre, Golden Gate Theatre, Curran Theatre, War Memorial Opera House, Treasure Island Administration Building, SFMOMA, De Young Museum designed by Herzog & de Meuron, Asian Art Museum, Contemporary Jewish Museum, Children’s Creativity Museum, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, San Francisco Cable Car Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Museum of the African Diaspora, Musée Mécanique, Palace of Fine Arts, California Academy of Sciences designed by Renzo Piano, War Memorial Opera House, Davies Symphony Hall, Palace of the Legion of Honor, Grace Cathedral, St Joseph’s Church, Mission Dolores, Baker Beach, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, Mission Dolores Park, Twin Peaks, Ghirardelli Square, Salesforce Transit Center, and SFO Airport. Sport venues of note include Oracle Park, and Chase Center. Marin County Civic Center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Flintstone House is an quirky location in the suburb of Hillsborough. Morrison Planetarium. Blue Jasmine (2013), Ant-Man (2015), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Zodiac (2007), The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), Catch Me If You Can (2002), The Game (1997), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) filmed in San Francisco.

Outside of San Francisco, the Bay Area is known for Silicon Valley, Berkeley University campus, Stanford University campus, San Jose, San José City Hall designed by Richard Meier, Levi’s Stadium, SAP Center, PayPal Park, Oakland, Oakland Coliseum, San Quentin Prison, Napa Valley wineries, Lake Berryessa Glory Hole Spillway, Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake, Redwood National Park, Painted Dunes of Lassen Volcanic National ParkBurney Falls, Fort Bragg glass beach, Marin Headlands, Muir Woods National Monument, Mount Tamalpais car commercial roads, Eureka’s Victorian architecture, the charming hamlet of Mendocino, and Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Sacramento is California’s state capital. Truckee is known for its beautiful mountain homes. Winchester Mystery House is a unique film location. Oroville Dam is one of the largest dams in the United States. Donner Pass is a high mountain pass named after the ill-fated Donner Party. Carson Mansion is a Victorian mansion located in Eureka. Sierra Army Depot is located in Doyle. Carolands Chateau is located in Hillsborough. Apple Park, located in Cupertino, was designed by Norman Foster. Tesla’s Fremont Factory.

California grows over 200 different crops including grapes, strawberries, oranges, avocados, lemons, peaches, tomatoes, cotton, and marijuana. The state also has many dairy, beef cattle, and horse farms available for filming.

With 840 miles of coastline, California also offers many water based film and photography options.

Pacific Crest Trail runs through the state.

California Film Location Permits

Location and permit fees for California State properties are free. Permit applications must be submitted 4 business days before the first day of shooting. Road closures require at least twelve business days. Freeway closures require at least sixteen business days. Proof of insurance is required. Please contact us for location specific information.

When To Shoot?

California’s offers year-round long, sunny shoot days. California has four main climatic regions:

Coastal and Southern parts of the state have a Mediterranean climate, with mild rainy winters and dry summers with occasional heavy fog.

Mountain areas have mild summers, with cold, snowy winters and fall colors in autumn.

The Central Valley has hot summers and cool winters.

The Imperial Valley has very hot, dry summers.

Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in the United States.

Unique Local Stories

Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.

If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.

If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.

California Tax Incentives For Filming

California offers a tax credit of up to 25% of qualifying local spend for eligible productions. Production categories include TV Projects, Relocating TV, Indie Features, and Non-Indie Features.

California Film Crew Talent

Crew. Los Angeles is home to most of the world’s top professional creative and technical film crews.

Contact us if you are looking for a Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, or Sacramento based director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew in California.

Talent. California is a large and diverse state with talent from all ethnicities and walks of life available. Los Angeles offers a limitless pool of talent ranging from Hollywood celebrities, to thousands of extras, to an extensive selection of animal actors.

California Film Equipment

Equipment. Los Angeles is home to the world’s most extensive pool of standard and specialized film equipment.

Communications. Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.

Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.

For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.

California Studios & Post Production

Studios. California is home to many state of the art studio facilities including the Big 5 studios: 20th Century Fox, RKO Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

California Film-Friendly Accommodation

Please contact us for recommended film friendly hotels in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and other areas of California.

Final Notes

Safety. California is a very safe and reliable place for foreign productions to shoot. See here for up to date travel advice.

Down Time. Surf, ski, shop. California has it all.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in California, please see below:

Hire California Production Support & Shooting Crew

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in California, please contact us.

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in California, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.