Film Shooting

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

These policies and procedures apply to student organizations, The Emerson Channel, Emerson Productions, faculty, students, and staff. Shoots may not take place in hazardous locations at any time that could cause injury to cast and crew or damage to Emerson College equipment.

At least two weeks prior to location shoot, students should submit the appropriate permit request to Lenny Manzo, VMA Director of Production and Safety, for processing.  

All VMA shoots must complete a safety form in order to take out equipment. 

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 provide insurance for equipment on loan from the Equipment Distribution Center (EDC); there is a $2,500 deductible payment that the borrower is responsible for in the case of damages. The insurance will pay for damages over $2,500. The College equipment insurance policy provides insurance for equipment rented outside of the College, up to a maximum value of $250,000, of which no single piece can be worth more than $90,000.  The College does not provide workman’s compensation insurance for talent, including members of SAG and AFTRA.

II. Penalties

Violations of the MTP Shooting Policies and Procedures and/or violations of the VMA Student Production Safety Manual may result in one or both of the following actions: 

  • Suspension of production activities
  • 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 prop weapons, smoke or fog machines, live animals, or young children require special permission from Lenny Manzo, VMA Director of Production and Safety. Use of actual weapons of any kind on any Emerson College production is prohibited, including, but not limited to: any knife, sword, or any other kind of stabbing weapon; handcuffs or any other personal restraint tools; handguns, rifles, shotguns, BB guns, pellet guns, or any gun shooting any type of projectile.  Prop weapons are not permitted in the residence halls.
  • Shoots that require after hours access to buildings or locations may require special additional permission.
  • If you are traveling with Emerson College equipment outside of the United States, The Emerson College equipment insurance policy will cover College equipment, and the College will provide an insurance certificate showing that the value of that equipment is insured for the duration of that travel. Shoots outside the United States require our creation of a customs manifest. When reserving equipment for an international shoot, please notify an EDC manager. Please apply at least two weeks in advance.

IV. Shooting on Emerson Property

To shoot on Emerson College property you must fill out the A1 Form.

  • Submit the completed form and your script to your instructor for his or her signature.
  • See Lenny Manzo for his signature.  He will direct you to the Emerson Police Department, the appropriate building manager, and the Property Management Department. 

The only exception to filling out the A1 Form is a two-person shoot with one camera and tripod in a faculty or staff office with their permission and their supervision. 

To ensure 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.

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 for specific permissions and prohibitions.

Use of props and set pieces in Emerson College buildings may require you to adhere to the Emerson College Policies on Use of Performance and Rehearsal Facilities. This document can be downloaded at www.emerson.edu/mtp in the policies and forms section.

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 corridor
  • In rest rooms
  • Anywhere where building egress might be blocked in any way
  • Anywhere where building operation might be impaired in any way
  • Allen’s Alley
  • Boylston Place
  • Edgar Allen Poe Alley
  • Paramount Loading Dock

Certain areas within specific College buildings are off-limits:

  • At the Walker Building, 120 Boylston Street:
    • Basement and 1st Floor, Dining Hall
    • 3rd Floor Emerson College Library
  • At 2 Boylston Place:
    • Shooting policies to be determined
  • At 12 Hemenway Street:
    • Shooting policies to be determined
  • At 216 Tremont Street:
    • Inside the Bill Bordy Theater and Auditorium (available for limited access)
  • At 219 Tremont Street:
    • Inside the Cutler Majestic Theatre, Backstage or Lobbies
    • At the Tufte Performance and Production Center
    • Semel Theater, Backstage and Lobby
    • Floor 5-Dressing Rooms
    • Greene Theater, Backstage and Lobby
    • Huret and Spector Gallery
  • At 150 Boylston Street:
    • Floor L3 & Floor L2 – Athletics, The Skybox, Gymnasium
    • Floor L1 – Meeting Rooms, the Cultural Center, Piano Rooms, Student Organization Offices
    • Floor 1 – Laundry Room, Lobby, Meeting Rooms, The Multipurpose Room, the Terrace
    • Floor 2 – The Quiet Lounge, the Student Lounge, the Café, Meeting Room, administrative offices
  • At the Ansin Building, 180 Tremont St: 
    • Floors 9 through 14
  • At 555 Washington Street:
    • Floor L1 – Theatre Support Areas
    • Floor 1 – Loading Dock, Scene Shop
    • Floor 2 – Scene Shop and Backstage Areas
    • Floor 3 – Paramount Studios and Atrium Lobby
      • Limited to single camera, two person shoots only.
    • Floor 4 – Paramount Studios and Atrium Lobby
      • Limited to single camera, two person shoots only.
  • At 559 Washington Street:
    • Paramount Mainstage Theatre, Lobbies and Backstage
    • Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre, Lobby and Backstage
    • Bright Family Screening Room, Lobby and Booth

All spaces managed by the Campus Center at 172 Tremont St. The Student Performance Center at 80 Boylston St. (future) and the Cabaret at 52 Summer St. may be used with permission of the Director of the Campus Center at 150 Boylston St. (617-824-8680).

V. Shooting in the Tufte PPC Studios, Journalism Production Center, or Paramount Soundstage

Except for classes, any use of the TV studios and control rooms or the Paramount Soundstage requires a permit application. For Tufte PPC or Journalism Production Center studios use the A4 Form. For the Paramount Center Film Soundstage, use the S4 Form (Paramount Center Film Soundstage Permit Form). After filling out the form, turn it in to the appropriate studio manager:

  • PPC TV Studios, Antonio (Tony) Ascenso: PPC Room 814
  • Journalism Production Center, Antonio (Tony) Ascenso: PPC Room 814
  • Paramount Center Film Soundstage, Roy Wilson: Paramount Room 405

VI. Shooting in the Residence Halls

To shoot in the residence halls, all students must fill out the A1 Form and schedule a meeting with the Office of Housing and Residence Life to review the A1 Form at least 48 hours before the proposed shoot.  The Office of Housing and Residence Life will typically consider requests only when they meet the following conditions.  The Office of Housing and Residence Life reserves the right to alter these conditions and deny any request if the shoot adversely impacts the residence hall community or program.

Residence Hall Shooting Conditions:

  • A maximum of two cameras (on tripods or hand-held) or audio recording devices are utilized.
  • Shoot or recording will not interfere with residence hall activities or individual student privacy or activities.
  • The maximum number of (combined) cast and crew is eight people.
  • No artificial lighting equipment is utilized. Students must use the lighting available in the residence hall space.
  • The filming must occur in a private room/suite or floor/building lounge or kitchen.  Filming is not permitted in the hallway, elevators, laundry rooms or public bathrooms.
  • The filming can only occur in a private room/suite if the residents of the room/suite agree in writing to the filming schedule and activities.
  • The filming can only occur in a common area if there is no conflict with previously scheduled events. Typically, 24 hours’ notice of common area filming to the residence hall community will be provided by the cast/crew.
  • Furniture cannot be stacked or removed from the room/suite or common area.
  • The project must adhere to all College and residence hall policies and community standards (for example; the guest policy, no use of prohibited items including prop weapons, no hanging any items from sprinkler heads or pipes).
  • Requests from off-campus students for filming will typically only be considered if the filming is scheduled to occur in the residence hall of a cast/crew member of the project and when the resident agrees to serve as the host of the off-campus student.

VII. Shooting on Public Property

There is a specific process required to film on public property in the City of Boston, other cities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and other states.  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. When seeking a permit from the City of Boston you must contact Mary Higgins in the Office of Government and Community Relations. She can be contacted at mary_higgins [at] emerson.edu, or at 617-824-8984. Mary’s office is Walker 1002.

VIII. Shooting on Public Property in the City of Boston

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

  • If your crew is under ten (10) people and you are not asking to close any public streets or parking or divert any vehicular or pedestrian traffic, then the City of Boston does not have any additional requirements.     
  • Single camera on tripod or hand held or audio recorder.
  • No peripheral shooting equipment (audio recorders, 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 the above criteria, contact Mary Higgins in the Office of Government & Community Relations at 617-824-8984 to schedule a meeting. You will need to fill out the Emerson College Form A2 "Request for Public Location Permission" with the appropriate signatures. The next step is to complete the online City of Boston Film Office Permitting Request Form. To schedule an appointment with the Mayor's Office of Tourism, Sports, and Entertainment, call 617-635-3911, Fax: 617-635-4428. The Boston Film Office is located at Boston City Hall, One City Hall Square/Room 802. 

If a video or film shoot is taking place in a public location in Boston, see above guidelines

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

City of Boston Parks: including Boston Public Garden, Boston Common, Commonwealth Mall, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR): The Esplanade, Blue Hills Reservation Call Mary Higgins, Office of Government & Community Relations at Emerson College. Phone: 617-824-8984  Fax: 617-824-8943; mail to: 120 Boylston St. Boston, MA 02116, or hand deliver to 120 Boylston St., 10th floor, room 1002.

MBTA: MBTA Public Affairs Office, Joe Pesaturo, phone 617-222-3200 or 617-222-4539. or mail: MBTA Public Affairs, 10 Park Plaza, Boston 02116

Logan Airport: Massachusetts Port-Community Relations, Alaina Coppola, phone 617-568-3701.

The Massachusetts Film Office may assist you with information and contacts for shooting in other cities and towns outside Boston and give you additional information: Their web site www.massfilm.org or phone: 617-973-8400, 136 Blackstone Street, Boston, MA 02109.

X. Shooting on Private Property

You can shoot film 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.

Students must fill out the A3 Form to shoot on private property.  This form will generate a Certificate of Insurance, which extends the Emerson College liability insurance to the student’s shoot.  After filling out the form and securing the faculty signature, students must make an appointment with Lenny Manzo in order to finalize the process.  This should be done five days prior to the student’s first shoot day. 

VMA students who have questions should contact Lenny Manzo at leonard_manzo [at] emerson.edu, or 617-824-8126.

School of Communication students who have questions should contact Jonathan Satriale at jonathan_satriale [at] emerson.edu, or 617-824-3856.