Facts that Every Student Needs to Know About Filming in the USA

cinema clapperboard
The United States of America is no doubt the world’s premier filmmaking country with a rich history that stretches back a century. The USA has set the trend and standards in the film industry since “The Jazz Singer”, the first sync-sound film produced in 1927.

Today, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, is the citadel of the filming industry, attracting filmmakers and students in droves. Here are a few general things every student needs to know about filming in the USA today.

Permit requirements

Aside from idea formulation and storyboarding that is the genesis of a great movie, there are multiple requirements you must fulfill before filming in the United States of America.

All commercial filming in the USA requires a permit including student filmmakers without exception for filming in public places. The cost of these film permits vary from state to state and chosen location, but the basic fee is pegged at $685 for motion pictures plus any other add-ons that may arise.

Start by checking online for the local government agency responsible for filming permits if you do not have a location agency or scout.

Chances are they will have their application forms online that you can download and fill in, including instructions on what to do next. You may have to visit the local municipal office for approvals and issuance of the shooting permit.

This will keep your mind free as your academic workload will be managed by writing professionals who provide theses, essays and dissertations at affordable prices.

Shoot locations with free permits

Location permits can cost you heavily, and if you are conscious of your expenses, you might want to look at other options that may come free. County lines are some of such free locations you can carry out your film shoot at no cost except for the production insurance. 

You may also choose your location carefully in line with the story to allow for transfiguration where you can keep rearranging the same location to project different scenes at no extra cost.

Another option is to go guerrilla by stripping your shoot details to a bare minimum to allow for shooting unobtrusively in public places without necessary permits. This is tricky but has been done before and successfully so. Just be cognizant of the risk you are taking, including possible confiscation of your gear. 

Filming and production service providers

The film industry has many specialized functions that require professional help. A student needs to know how and where to get the necessary services for filming and this can be a daunting task. However, the industry has service providers known as fixers that can help all the way starting with idea development to post-production wrap up.

Fixers can assist with logistics, including sourcing for a native film crew to work with you, assembling the entire production team, travel, and accommodation arrangements, and catering services. They can also arrange for film equipment rentals, shoot location permits, and obtain for you tax incentives from state governments.

clapperboard and camera


After a successful shoot, the film student needs to know the process of editing footage. Your film will either succeed or flop at this stage and you may call in professional editors to help you get it right. 
You will need the expertise of graphic artists to add those compelling after-effects and composting as well as motion typography and dimensional aspect (2D/3D) if needed.

Audio mixing and sound design is another key element to your film that needs professional help. Find a good studio that has an extensive music library and capacity for original scoring. This stage is key to successful filmmaking and a student must know where and who to go to for professional services.

Budgeting for filmmaking in the USA

The budget in filmmaking is critical to the success of the film from production through to the box office. The interesting thing is that high budget films will attract equally high prices from distributors as they are deemed high quality. A student, therefore, needs to know what it takes to make the right film budget, although using an app may help.

Generally, the budget includes items such as development costs like script acquisition, production, including talent payment, and post-production at the basic level. Other substantial cost elements that go into a film budget include producer fees, which are charged arbitrarily mostly with the aim of shoring up the overall budget. 

The reason why producers try to hike film budgets is the corollary between high budget and high sales that eventually determines its profitability.


Filmmaking in the United States of America is an intricate business whose ropes a budding student learns along the way. There are many traditions and practises of the industry not taught in class and that can only be learned in the field. 
As a filmmaking student looking forward to a lucrative and exciting career, take time to research about the industry in the USA for better understanding.

Author’s Bio: Elizabeth Skinner is a career coach who mainly works with students and solves problems related to academic performance and getting a job after college. She also works as an assignment writing guide and deals in essays, thesis and dissertation. In her free time, she watches the latest web series, reads novels and plays tennis.


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