What permits do I need to film a movie on location? This question is asked continuously, yet the answer is not as straight-forward as one may hope. Instead, each location that you want to film at will need its own individual permit. The type of film permit that you need is going to be different depending on the type of location you are using.
First, you will need a special permit if you are going to be interfering with public activities, like blocking traffic. This will usually require a city-issued permit; and if you are doing something this invasive, you may need a second special event permit and police involvement. The permits themselves may not exceed a hundred dollars, but if you have to hire the police you will likely have to pay around fifty dollars an hour for each one.
The permit that you get will also depend on who controls the land that you are trying to use for your location filming. Whether it is controlled by the city, county, state or federal government will determine where you go to and what it costs you to deal with. Though it is not a hard and fast rule, the more local the government agency is, the cheaper and less complicated the permit application process will be. For example, a city park is usually relatively inexpensive to apply for and is usually approved quickly. A state park, on the other hand, may require much more information and may be both more expensive and not as easy to get approved.
When you are considering your locations, you need to appropriately research the areas you'd like to film and who controls them. This usually becomes part of your negotiation, deciding whether or not a given location is worth it when you need to figure out what permits you need.