1. Not Obtaining Film Permits

Getting the appropriate permits for your film is a very important aspect of the pre-production process of your student project. While you can shoot without a permit (and hope you don't get caught), we highly recommend you obtaining one.

people standing near vehicles
While you can film unpermitted, the risks are way too high. We don't recommend it.

The risks of not having a permit are just too many, and too high:

  • Your shoot can get completely shut down and/or your equipment confiscated, especially if you're caught filming un-permitted in a public area.
  • You can be fined.
  • You can cause your location host to get temporarily or permanently banned from hosting any further shoots on their property.
  • Even if you don't get caught, if your film turns out to be very successful and your budget is audited, and it is revealed that your $15,000 budget had $0 allocated for permits, it can cause you problems in the future.

Permits can be obtained quickly, or take a lot of time, depending on the area or region you plan to shoot in. For this reason, it's important to do careful research on permitting timelines and plan in advance.

As a student, you can obtain a permit fairly cheaply – student film permits in LA start at $26.

Here are some resources on the film permit process:

  1. Our article on Film Permits in LA
  2. FilmLA

2. Improper/Lack Of Production Insurance

On a shoot, especially a beginner shoot, things can happen. Things that you didn't anticipate. Broken bulbs, scratched furniture, stained driveways (these are the worst!) – these can rack up really high bills that you definitely don't want to pay out of pocket for.

As a film student, it's quite likely that production insurance will be provided by your school. If you're not a film student, or you've just graduated, or for any reason insurance is not provided by your school, you definitely want to make sure that you're covered by some sort of insurance coverage.

debris inside room
No one ever intends for there to be damage, but it happens anyway.

Most property owners will demand proof of insurance before letting you on their property, and for good reason. At Giggster, we've seen all kinds of damage claims for shoots – student or otherwise – and you don't want to be in a position where you're expected to pay $1000 for damages that you didn't anticipate would happen.

Get insurance, folks!

While we don't endorse or are sponsored by these companies, you can consider the following for your insurance needs:

  1. Event Helper
  2. Athos Insurance

3. Not Making a Good Impression During Scouting

As a student production, it is likely that you will face some amount of resistance when scouting for your filming locations. Property owners are generally wary of handing over access to their million-dollar homes to first-time filmmakers.

For this reason, you should always try and make a great first impression when you go and visit someone's home for the first time to scout. Make sure that you're expressing your responsibility and sensitivity to possible issues. Ask as many questions as you can, and clear all of your doubts.

At Giggster, our marketing director Reagan Cook is an experienced LA location host, having hosted hundreds of scouts and tens of productions, small and large, at his very own residence in Venice, Los Angeles. In the video below, he shares his top advice on how to make a great first impression during your scout.

You can also read the following article for more advice on location scouting:

Read: The Ultimate Guide to Location Scouting in 2019

4. Bad Budgeting

Budgeting is one of the most important aspects of your pre-production.

You should make sure to not only budget for all the things you know you'll be paying for (such as your cast, crew and locations), but also for incidentals such as damages and last-minute expenses.

1 U.S.A dollar banknotes

You never know what can come up – unexpected delays that cause you to require overtime, unexpected damages at your location rental, your crew requiring a little bit more food than expected – you never know!

It's best to not blow through your budget during your pre-production, or even through your production. Always leave some of your budget remaining for emergencies and incidentals.

5. Not Getting Proper Signed Releases

You need to make sure that whoever appears in your film, has signed a release agreeing to appear in your film. In essence, you can't waltz into Santa Monica and start shooting – you need to make sure that every single pedestrian that appears on camera has signed a release.

two blue cruiser bicycles on graffiti wall
Just because you see cool artwork at your location, don't assume that you're allowed to use it in your production!

A more unconventional situation regarding releases arises when you have copyrighted artwork in your film location. You need to make sure that all the art in the background of your film location is OK to appear on film, and it's your responsibility to ensure this and obtain the release from the property owner/manager.

While you might get away with it initially, if your film becomes more successful in the future, the lack of releases can really affect you by inviting the possibility of lawsuits.

6. Not Properly Planning for Traffic and Parking

Don't assume that there will be parking spots for your entire cast and crew on-site, especially if you haven't enquired about this from your location manager/host beforehand.

Either make sure that there is enough parking for everyone on-site, or coordinate access to a large parking lot ahead of time.

aerial view of cars parked on parking lot
Make sure you've sorted out your parking situation beforehand.

At the same time, make sure that you understand the traffic situation, and account for it in your shoot schedule. You can use a tool like Google Maps to estimate travel times with high accuracy.

If you start rolling an hour late because your DP got stuck in traffic and had to park a mile away due to lack of a parking spot, it can mess up your entire production schedule, invite extra over-time fees, and cause unnecessary stress to everyone involved.


At Giggster, we want to ensure that you have the smoothest and most hassle-free filming experience. We truly hope that this list educates you about the possible issues that can come up during production – and helps you plan accordingly!

As always, if you're looking for top filming locations in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco or Atlanta – go on Giggster and start searching!

Search from over 5000+ locations available to rent for filming on Giggster.

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