San Antonio, Texas offers visiting productions a range of interesting locations.
Historic locations of note include the Alamo, market square, and five Spanish Missions located along the 15 mile River Walk. San Fernando Cathedral has a night time laser show from Thursday to Sunday. The Tower of the Americas, built for the 1968 World’s Fair, rises above the city skyline.
San Antonio has several interesting neighbourhoods. The Pearl District is the city’s most recent addition. Previously a brewery, the old industrial location has been renovated to house a list of trendy restaurants, coffee shops, clothing stores, and the impressive Hotel Emma. The historic King William district has several impressive mansions. The suburbs of San Antonio are known for their gated communities with big houses and manicured lawns. The West Side of the city has a large Mexican population making it rich in unique location looks such as mom n pop taquerias, Tex-mex eateries, and many beautiful murals portraying the lives of Mexican American families. The East Side of the city is the African American neighbourhood which also has a distinct look and culture.
The San Antonio Film Commission coordinates all filming on city streets and in the parks, neighborhoods, college campuses, and sports venues. Although permits are not required to film in the city, they are required for filming in city parks, including Alamo Plaza, La Villita, and the San Antonio River Walk. See here for more details. Any filming requiring closure of street lanes, blocking of sidewalks or loading zones, and/or intermittent traffic control must be coordinated through the Film Commission.
The city of San Antonio owns and operates Alamo Plaza, the River Walk, Hemisfair, Tower of the Americas, La Villita, Market Square, the Botanical Gardens, Brackenridge Park, Travis Park, Milam Park, Olmos Park, and all city satellite parks. The City requires two weeks’ notice for features and television productions and at least three-days’ notice for smaller shoots.
Citywide permits are available and the Film Commission will generally waive fees for filming on city owned property. Additional permits may be required depending on the location.
San Antonio’s four historic Franciscan missions – San Jose, Concepcion, Espada and San Juan Capistrano – are operated by the National Park Service, which has its own permitting process.
The Alamo is controlled by the State of Texas General Land Office. Filming is not allowed within the Alamo grounds, but the facade is visible from the city-owned Alamo Plaza, for which a city park film permit is needed.
Filming in the King William District should be coordinated with the neighborhood association. The Steves Homestead Museum in King William is owned and operated by the San Antonio Conservation Society.
Drone filming in permitted but regulated depending on the location.
When applying for permits, proof of insurance for a minimum of USD$1million is required.
San Antonio has many events that attract filmmakers and tourists throughout the year. During Christmas, the River Walk is lit with Christmas lights and riverboats are filled with carollers. In April, the San Antonio Fiesta has over 100 events. Mexican cultural events including Dia de los Muertos and Cinco de Mayo are also colourful celebrations.
San Antonio has hosted a long list of commercials and feature films including Miss Congeniality, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Selena, and Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.
The State of Texas offers qualifying projects up to 22.5% cash grants. In addition to this, San Antonio offers an extra 7.5% for qualifying projects. Although these incentives only apply to feature films any projects that are deemed to be of promotional benefit to San Antonio may be eligible for in-kind support such as complimentary location permits, meals, hotel stays, and flights.
See here for more information on incentives, tax emptions and refunds.
Crew & Equipment
Some key crew and equipment are available locally in San Antonio, although most visiting productions will bring in their own crew or bring in additional crew from nearby Austin, which has a larger and more developed crew base.
Contact us if you are looking for a San Antonio or Texas based shooting crew or production service support including fixers and service companies.