COVID-19 Film Guidance and Updates

Last updated 11/19/2020

Pursuant to the Governor's order to allow film production in Washington State, Seattle Master Film Permit applications are now being accepted for productions who are able to meet all guidelines set forth by Washington State's Phase 2 Motion Picture Production COVID-19 Requirements. The City of Seattle's requirements will meet state and public health guidelines.  

Any production working in Seattle should review Washington Filmworks Production Best Practices and Departmental Best Practices as part of your pre-production planning. 

The Governor's November 15, 2020 guidelines to curb the surge of COVID-19 cases do not impact film production. Productions should be aware of the new travel advisory which suggest: Persons arriving in Washington from other states or countries, including returning Washington residents, should practice self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival.

City of Seattle Master Film Permits are now temporarily being being issued.  Additional shoots will be allowed at a later date:  

  • Currently Being Issued: 
    • Permits for productions which do not require uniformed police officers. This includes productions looking to shoot b-roll / roving, drone photography (that does not require traffic control), reserve production vehicle parking, and filming in city parks and city right-of-way. 
    • To ensure health safety, social distancing, and other COVID-19 related precautions, productions with cast and crew over 50 people may be required to provide additional safety documentation for City review prior to approval within the Master Film Permit.
  • Currently Not Being Issued
    • Permits for productions which do require uniformed police officers. While we are working to begin officer supported permits as soon as possible, we do not yet have a restart timeline because of the complex nature of this work. There will be restrictions or reductions to the historic coordination and staffing of uniformed police officers assigned to support permitted film productions in Seattle. Film productions may be required to hire non-SPD uniformed officers. We are currently developing these new policies with our partners in SPD and SDOT. This includes any productions that would require uniformed police officers for traffic control, security and safety, or prop weapon use.
    • Permits for productions which require filming at interior City of Seattle buildings. This includes productions that would like to use Community Centers or other Parks facilities (Bathhouses, pools, etc.), City Hall, and Georgetown Steam Plant.    

If Washington State or King County reverts to Phase 1, or if changes in COVID-19 conditions make it necessary in the public interest, Seattle Master Film Permits will be suspended. 

For more information or to apply for a film permit, please follow the links below and contact us at filmoffice@seattle.gov or (206) 233-3948

Click Here to Apply For a Film Permit  

Film Manual 

Frequently Asked Questions

You can find Washington State's "Phase 2 Motion Picture Production COVID-19 Requirements" here

Washington Filmworks has assembled a COVID-19 Resources for Film Production page that include Safety and Training resources, toolkits, and more. We strongly advise that all productions to review Washington Filmworks Production Best Practices and Departmental Best Practices early in pre-production, before you begin your Seattle film permit application. 

The Washington State film production requirements were developed through the recommendations of different government agencies, film industry organizations, and film industry stakeholders. We ask that each production do its due diligence in researching before choosing what resources are the best fit for them.

Additional review and processing time will be required for all film permit applications.  Film productions should expect a minimum of 5 days to process a film permit, longer if staffing is needed from Police**, SDOT, Parks, or other departments. 

Low Impact, B-Roll, or Roving filming may still be able to be processed in one day, three days if filming in a park. 

**Please note - permits are not being issued for shoots requiring uniformed police officers at this time, these rules will apply once that type of permitting resumes. The Film Office highly recommends hiring a location manager for all shoots regardless of officers activity, especially while navigating the new on-set realities of filming during COVID-19 

During the application process productions will now be prompted to upload the additional documents, all of which are required before we can proceed with processing your request:  

  • COVID-19 Safety Plan 
    • Pursuant to the Phase 2 Motion Picture Production COVID-19 Requirements, all productions "must adopt a written procedure for operations that are at least as strict as the procedures [listed within the document] and complies with all safety and health requirements." Please upload this as a PDF where prompted.  The same general plan may be used for multiple productions under the same production company. 
  • COVID-19 Set Safety Checklist 
    • The Washington Filmworks COVID-19 Set Safety Checklist is designed to guide you through all of the state mandated measures required of productions to operate safely. A completed copy of this checklist must be uploaded with your application to acknowledge your productions understanding of these guidelines. 
  • City of Seattle COVID-19 Notification Letter
    • The City of Seattle requires productions to notify businesses and residents within a one block radius of their filming location a minimum of three days before they arrive. To convey to businesses and residents that the production is adhering to all COVID-19 requirements, productions must use this notification letter template. When distributing notifications maintain social distancing and wear PPE. 

Additionally, upon reaching the final screen of your application process you will be asked to check boxes acknowledging that you have read, understand, and abide by everything outlined in the Phase 2 Motion Picture Production COVID-19 Requirements. Failure to meet these requirements in full will result in revocation of future film permits. 

Yes. Site maps for all productions need to illustrate an understanding of COVID-19 requirements for social distancing on set. Designing site plans during COVID-19 requires a greater level of detail than normal, and maps need to reflect the allotted space for each department and other shared spaces on set. Areas such as the video village, catering, make up, equipment staging, placement of monitors, hand washing stations etc. should all be clearly labeled on the site maps submitted with your application. 

The Office of Film + Music recommends that all productions have crew dedicated to location management. 

If your production will be impacting vehicle traffic, or any other instance where the uniformed police officers are required**, your production is required to hire a dedicated location manager to professionally navigate the complexities of film production during COVID-19 restrictions. The location manager must not have any other duties assigned to them on set, and needs to be available at all times to communicate with police liaisons, neighboring businesses and residents, city department liaisons, and the Office of Film + Music. 

**Please note - permits are not being issued for shoots requiring uniformed police officers at this time, these rules will apply once that type of permitting resumes. The Film Office highly recommends hiring a location manager for all shoots regardless of officers activity, especially while navigating the new on-set realities of filming during COVID-19. 

Standard City of Seattle insurance requirements are still in place at this time. 

Due to health safety, social distancing, and other COVID-19 related precautions, depending on where the County and State is in cases and other health trends, the City of Seattle may not be able to approve productions with cast and crew of over 50 people.

Yes, including cast. The Phase 2 Motion Picture Production COVID-19 Requirements states: 

Talent (from Labor & Industry's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Common Questions Regarding Worker Face Covering and Mask Requirements): Reporters, on-camera anchors/talent, and speakers on camera or in front of a crowd may remove their cloth facial covering or mask for the time they are speaking only. A shared podium or equipment should not be touched without being sanitized after each person has used it. Proper social distancing of at least 6 feet between all people must be maintained. All other employees, including camera operators and production staff, must wear masks or face coverings when not working alone.  

    • Talent may be closer than six feet but must have a physical barrier between them at all times (such as plexiglass.) 
    • To accommodate "over the shoulder" film angles, actors can be closer than six feet if all performers are masked except for the one performer delivering lines in the scene. 

For more information on how to obtain mask for your production please visit Seattle Protects. Please visit the Washington Filmworks COVID-19 Resources for Film Production for additional outlets to obtain PPEs and cleaning supplies for on set. 

Please consult the list of resources available under the "Safety Trainings and Planning" section of the Washington Filmworks COVID-19 Resources for Film Production.

Pursuant to the Phase 2 Motion Picture Production COVID-19 Requirements

A worker may refuse to perform unsafe work, including hazards created by COVID-19. And, it is unlawful for their employer to take adverse action against a worker who has engaged in safety- protected activities under the law if their work refusal meets certain requirements.  

Employees who choose to remove themselves from a worksite because they do not believe it is safe to work due to the risk of COVID-19 exposure may have access to certain leave or unemployment benefits. Employers must provide high-risk individuals covered by Proclamation 20-46 with their choice of access to available employer-granted accrued leave or unemployment benefits if an alternative work arrangement is not feasible. Other employees may have access to expanded family and medical leave included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, access to use unemployment benefits, or access to other paid time off depending on the circumstances. Additional information is available here.

If you face unsafe work conditions, please also reach out to filmoffice@seattle.gov with your concerns after you have reached out to the proper state agencies. Productions who are not meeting the state mandated production guidelines will not be granted future film permits. 

All crew should review Washington Filmworks Set Safety Info For Workers document, and complete a COVID Acknowledgement Form before production begins.

Not at this time. This includes locations such as City Hall, Community Centers and other indoor parks facilities, and other city-owned buildings. When interior filming is allowed again, productions should allow additional planning time. 

The Office of Film + Music does not issue permits or guidance for filming on private property. Please visit Washington Filmworks' Scouting Fundamentals webpage, or contact Washington Filmworks Production Services Coordinator Kendra Ann Sherill for best practices on filming on private property at this time.

We understand precautions to curb the spread of COVID-19 are significant and impactful to film productions, particularly to low budget or student productions. The Office of Film + Music, however, cannot grant permissions without receiving your plans to meet the state requirements. 

Washington Filmworks - Washington's Film Industry and the Coronavirus
This contains contact information and additional resources for filmmakers to help navigate the outbreak of COVID-19 in our region. This document will be updated regularly with information that is specific to the film industry, so please check back often.   

King County Creative Handbook 
King County Creative has published a new online COVID-19 Response Handbook for Creatives in an effort to keep comprehensive, up-to-date public health information circulating through the cultural and creative communities in our region during COVID-19 and beyond. 

Whipsmart: Resources for WA Creatives and Creative Businesses
Whipsmart is a new creative economy-focused nonprofit that gives creative professionals the tools they need to succeed by meeting them where they're at. They've compiled an extensive, continuously updated, COVID-19 Resource guide for creatives and creative businesses. 

General COVID-19 relief resources are also available from the City of Seattle Mayor's Office and Office of Economic Development.