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Film Shooting Policies

All Emerson College students must adhere to the policies and procedures associated with shooting film/video and/or recording audio and for securing permission to do so.


I. General Policies

At least two weeks prior to a location shoot, students should submit the appropriate permit request to Timothy McKenna, Equipment Distribution Center Manager, for processing. These policies and procedures apply to student organizations, The Emerson Channel, Emerson Productions, faculty, students and staff.

Location film and video production carries risk. While you may make every attempt to exercise safety precautions on a location shoot, you may be held legally and financially liable in the event of an accident that happens as a result of that shoot.

  • The College does not provide insurance for equipment on loan from the Equipment Distribution Center (EDC).
  • The College does not provide insurance on equipment rented outside the College.
  • The College does not provide workman’s compensation insurance for talent including members of SAG and AFTRA.

II. Penalties

Violations by students of the following policies and procedures may result in one or all or the following actions:

  1. Suspension of production activities.
  2. Formal charges and disciplinary action by the College as outlined in the Student Handbook.

III. Shoots Requiring Special Permission

Shoots that require the use of firearms (real or prop), smoke or fog machines, live animals, or young children require special additional permission. Shoots that require access to buildings or locations after hours may require special additional permission. Contact the EDC for requirements for these special requests.

IV. Shooting on Emerson Property

  1. To insure that the College and its students are in compliance with City of Boston fire regulations and Massachusetts special effects regulations - fires, candles, smoke, cookies, squibs, black powder charges, fireworks, explosive devices or any other flame producing items are not permitted on College property.
  2. Students are prohibited from making permanent alterations or modifications to Emerson College structures. The use of any prop, set item, special effects apparatus or any other device of any kind that may result in damage to Emerson College property is prohibited. Students are advised to consult with their instructor and Timothy McKenna for specific permissions and prohibitions.
  3. Use of props and set pieces in Emerson College buildings may require you to adhere to the Emerson College Policies Relating to use of Performance and Rehearsal Facilities. This document can be downloaded at www.emerson.edu/trf in the policies and forms section.
  4. Shoots may not be conducted in the following areas:
    • Inside the lobbies of buildings
    • In front of or inside building elevators
    • On stairways
    • In any corridors
    • Anywhere else where building egress might be blocked in any way.
    • Anywhere else where building operation might be impaired in any way.
  5. Certain areas within specific College buildings are off-limits:
  • At the Walker Building, 120 Boylston Street: In the Emerson College Library
  • At the Little Building, 80 Boylston Street:
    • Basement, College Fitness Center, 2nd Floor, Mezzanine
    • 1st Floor, Main Lobby,  2nd Floor, Dining Hall & Function Rms.
  • At 216 Tremont Street: Inside the Bill Bordy Theater and Auditorium
  • At the Tufte Performance and Production Center
    • Semel Theater lobby
    • Huret and Spectre Gallery
  • At 150 Boylston Street
    • Floor L3 & Floor L2
    • Floor 2 – The Quiet Lounge
    • Floor 2 – The Café
    • Floor 2 – Rm. 214 Function Room
    • Floor 1 – Loading Dock, Laundry Room, Lobby, Entry Lounge Area

All reservable rooms and common rooms in Student Activities managed properties (Campus Center at 150 Boylston St. and the Cabaret at 80 Boylston) may be used with permission of Sara Sheckles, Director of Student Activities/Union at 150 Boylston St. (617-824-8680).

V. Small Shoots

An ON-CAMPUS "small shoot" may be performed on the Emerson campus without a permit if the following criteria are met and above restrictions are not violated:

  1. Single camera on tripod or hand-held camera or audio recording device.
  2. Shoot or recording will not interfere with scheduled classes, the conduct of normal business or other activities of the College.
  3. Maximum number of cast: 1 and crew: 1. 
  4. No peripheral shooting equipment (Nagra, cables, lights, reflectors, C-stands, etc.).
  5. Cast and crew will exercise appropriate judgment, and will seek permission of the appropriate persons.


If your shoot does not meet the criteria of "small shoot," you must apply for a permit to shoot on College property. To obtain a permit:

  1. Complete request form A1 (Request for On-Campus Location Permit).
  2. Submit the completed form and your script to your instructor for his or her signature.
  3. Submit the signed form to Timothy McKenna, Equipment Distribution Center (EDC) Manager, at least two weeks before the shoot.
  4. Mr. McKenna will direct the applicant to Property Management or the appropriate building manager. You may be contacted with questions about your shoot. If approved, he or she will return the form to you. You may be required to speak with a representative of Emerson College Police regarding fire and safety regulations.

Mr. McKenna will contact you and make arrangements for you to pick up the Emerson College Location Permit.

Please note that shooting in the Journalism Television Studio or the Tufte PPC Television Studios require a separate permit process (see below).

VI. Shooting in the Tufte PPC or Journalism TV Studios

Any use of the TV studios and control rooms except for classes requires a permit application. Use form A4. After filling out the form, please turn the form in to the appropriate studio manager: PPC TV Studios: Antonio (Tony) Ascenzo, Room 814 • Journalism TV Studio: Timothy MacArthur, Room 631

Questions?
Please make an appointment to see Timothy McKenna, Equipment Distribution Center Manager, Television Radio and Film Production (TRF), Emerson College, Little Building, 80 Boylston Street, 1st Floor, Phone: 617-824-8349, fax: 617-824-8817. Or call Jane Pikor, Production Manager, Television Radio & Film Production (TRF), phone: 617-824-8936, fax: 617-824-8856.

VII. Shooting on Public Property

There is a specific process required to film or tape on public property in the City of Boston, and other cities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. License fees, and other permits may be required by the police departments, fire departments, departments of public works; parks and recreation departments, and/or neighborhood associations. It is the responsibility of the producing student to obtain these permits and authorizations.

VIII. Shooting on Public Property in the City of Boston

A "small shoot" may be performed in the City of Boston, the Esplanade, Boston parks, and the waterfront without a permit if the following criteria are met:

  1. Single camera on tripod or hand held or audio recorder.
  2. Shoot will not obstruct pedestrian access on sidewalk or obstruct street.
  3. Maximum number of cast: 2, and crew: 2.
  4. No peripheral shooting equipment (Nagra, cables, lights, reflectors, C-stands, etc.) In other words, the shoot would be similar to tourists shooting on vacation in Boston.

If the shoot does not meet these criteria, you must fill out a City of Boston Film Office Permitting Request Form and then contact the office to schedule an appointment: To schedule an appointment call Patte Papa, City of Boston Film Director, Phone 617-635-3911, Fax: 617-635- 4428. The Boston Film Office is located at Boston City Hall, Room 802. View more information and the City of Boston Permitting Request Form.

If this video or film shoot is for your required course work:

The City requires you submit the City of Boston Film Office Permitting Request Form and Emerson College Form A2 "Request for Public Location Permission" with the appropriate signatures. You are then eligible to utilize the certificate of insurance and the bond the City Film Office has on file.

If this video or film shoot is not part of your required course work:

  1. Fill out form A3 (Request for Certificate of Insurance) complete the form with the appropriate signatures. Please include names, address, and contact info of the property owner/landlord.
  2. Fill out a City of Boston Film Office Permitting Request Form.
  3. For protection against possible damage to city property, Emerson College provides a bond with a minimum security of $5,000.00 issued to the City of Boston. To acquire a copy of this bond, please contact the Emerson Department of Purchasing and Risk Management, 617-824-8590. The request for this copy may take at least 48 hours to process.
  4. Submit the forms to Tim McKenna at the TRF Equipment Distribution Center at least two weeks prior to your shoot. Certificates that are presented too late will not be processed by the Emerson Department of Purchasing and Risk Management. Once processed the completed certificate will be emailed as a PDF file to the applicant. The PDF form can then be printed, faxed, or forwarded by the student as needed.
  5. Call the Boston Film Office to schedule and appointment 617-635-3911. Bring the Certificate of Insurance, the Bond, and the City of Boston Film Office Permitting Request Form to Patte Papa, Film Director, City of Boston Film Bureau. The Boston Film Office is located at Boston City Hall, Room 802. View more information and the City of Boston Permitting Request Form.

This procedure above is to be followed for all City of Boston locations except those listed below:

IX. Shooting in Boston Parks, MBTA Property, and Logan Airport Property

Call one of the appropriate people to apply for a permit. Fill out form A2, obtain the appropriate signatures, and provide the A2 form to the appropriate person below. They may require a letter of request (re: who, what, where, when, why, equipment, etc.) and a fee.

City of Boston Parks: including Boston Public Garden, Boston Common, Commonwealth Mall, and The Esplanade: Call Margaret Ings, Office of Government and Community Relations, Emerson College. Phone: 617-824-8299. Fax 617-824-8943; mail to: 120 Boylston St. Boston, MA 02116, or hand deliver to 120 Boylston St. Suite 203.

MBTA: MBTA Public Affairs Office, Lydia Rivera, phone 617-222-1510, fax 617-222-4539. or mail: MBTA Public Affairs, 10 Park Plaza, Boston 02116

Logan Airport: Massachusetts Port Properties, Dorothy Connolly-Steele, phone 617-568- 3705, fax 617-568 3703.

The Massachusetts Film Bureau may assist you with information and contacts for shooting in other cities and towns outside Boston and give you additional information: Their web site is: http://www.massfilmbureau.com or phone: 617-523-8388. The Massachusetts Film Bureau is located at 198 Tremont Street, PMB#135, Boston, MA 02116.

X. Shooting on Private Property

You can shoot pictures of private property from public property without permission. If you want to go on private property, you must ask the owner for written permission. If you do not receive written permission from the owner or his/her official representative, you may be trespassing. If you are going to use the final product for commercial purposes, you must also make that known to the owner.

If the property owner asks that you provide a Certificate of Insurance (proof of insurance) for Emerson College, fill out Form A3, Request for Certificate of Insurance, and return it to the EDC, 1st Floor Little Building - 617-824-8349. You must present this form to Tim McKenna in person, by appointment. Forms dropped off will not be processed.

Certificates of Insurance will be emailed to the applicant. After the form is signed by Tim McKenna, the student will deliver the completed form to the Emerson Department of Purchasing and Risk management on the 13th floor of the Ansin Building, 180 Tremont St.