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Filming Commercial Media in Boston: Legal Aspects You Must Know

As one of the more iconic cities in the country, countless films have used Boston as a backdrop. This can be attributed to the unique landscape, architecture, and cultural significance that the city commands. Even though Boston doesn’t have deep, traditional roots in film like L.A., it still offers opportunities for filmmakers to flex their skills.

However, many people forget that the technical and logistical details in film production are equally important. There are a number of aspects you need to account for if you plan to shoot in Boston. Let’s explore some of them.

What Is the Filming Experience Like in Boston?

For filmmakers, Boston can be a bit expensive to shoot in. However, the cultural significance of the Commonwealth is worth exploring. In fact, there have been several efforts by some of the best Boston lobbying firms to improve the experience for filmmakers and production studios.

According to Corry Associates, lobbying firms did a lot to ensure that filming could continue in Boston during the Covid-19 pandemic. They also worked to draft and pass the Film Tax Credit Legislation, which ended up saving over 7,000 jobs.

It’s clear that people care for each other in the film industry here. If you are new to the industry, it is reassuring to know that there are people looking out for you. In terms of other logistics, there are enough restaurants and catering options in the city. If you are a low-budget filmmaker, you should be able to find affordable hotels to work out of as well.

What Permits Do You Need?

To film in Boston, you will need a number of permits and other clearances. This process will require you to contact various departments, but it shouldn’t be too difficult.

There are essentially three main permits that you will need. The first one is a “Street Occupancy Permit” that will allow you to reserve spots on a street for parking or filming.

The second requirement is a “Public Area Permit,” which will cost you about $20/day. You need this to actually film on Boston streets.

The third type of permit is the “Special Hazards Permit,” which is only needed if you plan to use special effects or generators. You will have to approach the fire department for this permit.

It may take some time to get everything you need, but it is simply part of the process. Lobbyists in Boston are always working on making permits more accessible to film producers. One day, we will hopefully have a seamless method to apply for and receive permits in a timely manner.

Insurance Protection

Before you can even apply for permits, you will need to have the appropriate insurance coverage. You will have to obtain a certificate of insurance with the City of Boston made as the certificate holder. The coverage has to be a minimum of $1 million.

You should also remember to ensure that the dates on the certificate will cover all the days of your filming in the city.

Additionally, you will also need a security bond dedicated to the city. The minimum amount is currently $5,000.

These may all seem a bit much, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. In fact, a lot of the logistics that go into film production involve working around compliance and safety guidelines. Insurance in the film industry is not something you want to skimp out on.

Hiring Police and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Details

Many film studios choose to hire police details to maintain law and order. Having a police detail at hand can make your filming go smoothly and protect your cast and crew from hecklers.

The minimum amount of time you can hire a police detail is four hours, and the hourly fee will depend on the rank of the officer. It can range from $50.60 per hour for a detective to $66.00 per hour for a captain.

It is also a good idea to have an EMS detail, as film stunts lead to more injuries than you think. Sometimes, having onsite medical attention can make a big difference in case there is ever a life or limb-threatening accident. Even with EMS, the rates will differ based on the kind of support you choose to have.

A basic life support squad unit would set you back $55 per hour. However, this can go up to $140 if you choose to have something a little more advanced, like a life support ambulance with two paramedics.


There is a lot of scope for the growth of the film industry in Boston. It may not be the flashiest place in the country, but it offers character and a taste of old America. Your experience with filming in Boston should go smoothly, provided you follow the law. It shouldn’t be too difficult to do that, considering the efforts of many of the top lobbying firms in Boston.

Ensure you have the right insurance, the necessary permits, and an appropriate police or EMS detail on site. Remember, even with all the permits, you should avoid disturbing the public too much. Being considerate and polite to others can go a surprisingly long way in this industry, especially if you are a newcomer.

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