Seattle Film Manual

One Call to the Seattle Film Office Will Put You in Business

The Seattle Film Office issues permissions for filming (feature films, short films, commercials, documentaries, student projects, television and web programming, music videos, commercial still photography, public service announcements, and other filming/photography projects) on public City of Seattle property.

All of the information you need for a successful shoot in the City of Seattle can be found below in the Film Manual. This includes information about insurance coverage, parking reservations, parks use, police hires, drone use, and much more.

Please review the Manual before beginning the permit application process.

If you have any questions, contact us at 206-233-3948 or filmoffice@seattle.gov.

So You Want to Film in Seattle

Incentives

To welcome the film industry to Seattle, we offer the following incentives:

  • $25 per day permit fee for City of Seattle Master Film Permits
  • Use of City property including Seattle parks and facilities, streets, sidewalks, City-owned buildings, and Seattle Center campus grounds, as part of the Master Film Permit fee
  • One-stop, streamlined permit process for all City of Seattle property coordinated by a Film Permit Specialist
  • Parking passes for location scouting
  • Reduced metered street parking space reservation rates
  • Support for low-impact, student, and independent feature film productions with $25 per project up to 14 consecutive days (with some restrictions) Please call the Seattle Film Office as soon as you determine you will be working in Seattle. The more lead time given, the better we can serve you. 

We will need a completed film permit application for the following types of filming:

  • Low impact filming (sidewalks, parks, no traffic control or parking reservation):  No later than three business days before your first day of work      
  • Medium impact filming (parking reservation, traffic control, hiring officers, builds, off-hours work):  No later than five business days in advance
  • High impact filming (drones, street closures, stunts, pyrotechnics, large builds, high number of officers):  Contact Film Permit Specialist for review

You will need a permit to film on City of Seattle property if:

  • You are filming in a City park 
  • You are filming in a City-owned building
  • Vehicle traffic will be interrupted on City streets
  •  Pedestrian traffic will be interrupted on City sidewalks
  • A tripod or dolly is used on sidewalks or streets
  • Wires or cables are run across or over sidewalks or streets
  • A generator is used on a sidewalk or street
  • Public parking is reserved, impacted, or restricted

Filming Outside of Seattle

Permits issued by the Office of Film + Music are for City of Seattle property only. We do not issue permits for property in the City of Bellevue, City of Renton, City of Shoreline, City of Everett, City of Bellingham, Washington State Interstates or Highways, or any other jurisdiction in the State of Washington. For information on how to permit in locations outside of Seattle, please see the "Resources for Filming in Washington State" section of this manual (coming soon).

Please contact Nancy Wilson, Community Manager, at Washington Filmworks for more information about filming in other areas of Washington State

Master Film Permit Fees

Standard Permitting Fees

  • $25 per day of filming - no limit on number of public locations per day
  • $15 per reserved metered street parking space (no fee for non-metered street parking spaces)
  • $500 / $1,000 refundable damage deposit - high impact filming only

Fee Exceptions for Low-Impact Independent Features/ Short Films/ Student Productions

If a production meets the following criteria it is eligible for a for a reduced fee structure:

  • No exclusive use of streets by production vehicles or crew
  • No generator
  • 10 or less cast and crew
  • No special effects
  • No closure of pedestrian areas
  • No filming of moving picture vehicles
  • Production is not a commercial or corporate production

If all of these stipulations apply productions will be charged:

  • $25 flat fee for up to 14 days of filming
  • After 14 days, the fee is $25 per day

Included in City of Seattle Film Permit Fees:

  • The use of City property, including City Parks, Seattle Center exterior spaces, City-owned buildings, and other city-owned properties and facilities
  • Street use permits - City streets and sidewalks       
  • Location scouting Parking Passes
  • Water Hydrant Permits 
  • Pyrotechnics (Fireworks Use) or Class C Special Effects Permits
  • Noise Variance Permits
  • "Filming In Progress" a-frames
  • All City of Seattle cost associated with issuing and overseeing the Master Film Permit and its components 

Additional Cost

Some, but not all, permits will have additional charges outside of the standard Film Office cost structure. You may be billed directly from the stated offices for the following:

  • Parks Department staffing - required at some specific locations and facilities. Inquire with Film Permitting Specialist for details.
  • Seattle Police Department staffing (See Seattle Police Department section, under Coordination with Other Departments)
  • REMOVE Fees for some Seattle Public Utilities or Parks property buildings
  • Private Vendor rental cost for No-Parking and other traffic control signs.
  • The Film Office does not provide productions with No-Parking a-frames or other traffic signs. (See Seattle Department of Transportation Section Under Coordination with Other Departments) 
  • City staffing fees from select other city-owned facilities. Inquire with Film Permitting Specialist for details.

Invoices and Payment

  • Film permits are invoiced after your shoot has wrapped
  • Visa, Mastercard, cash or check are acceptable forms of payment
  • Payment may be made by phone or in person
  • Damage deposits (if needed) are due before permit can be issued (See Damage Deposit section under Requirements for Filming)

Requirements for Filming

Insurance

  • Certification of liability insurance as specified below must be submitted in the form of a Certificate of Insurance, including a copy of the additional insured policy provision, through the online application portal. Minimum Coverages and Limits of Liability
    • For all productions:  Commercial General Liability (CGL) or Business Liability covering Premises/Operations and Automobile Liability insurance with minimum limits of liability of $1,000,000 each occurrence bodily injury and property damage Combined Single Limit (CSL).
    • If pyrotechnics or explosives used:  CGL or Business Liability insurance minimum limits of liability increased to $2,000,000 CSL and coverage shall not exclude such perils.
    • If UAS/drones are used: $2,000,000 UAS/Drone Aviation coverage is required to be provided by the licensed UAS operator in addition to the production's $1,000,000 CGL coverage.     
  • The City of Seattle shall be included as an additional insured for primary and non- contributory limits of liability under each liability insurance policy with respect to permits issued by the City. The minimum limits of liability stated above are minimum limits only and shall not operate to limit the liability of any insurer to less than the policy limits available to the named insured as stated in the declarations page. 
  • The City must be an additional insured under the permittee's total limits of liability, whether such limits are insured or self-insured, primary, excess, contingent or otherwise. The additional insured policy provision shall be as per the ISO CG 20 12 or CG 20 26 additional insured policy endorsement, or the designated or blanket additional insured equivalent thereof. 
  • Certification of insurance shall be issued to the following with a minimum thirty (30) day notice of cancellation, except ten (10) day notice for cancellation on account of non-payment of premium:

The City of Seattle
c/o Office of Film + MusicPO Box 94798700 5th Ave, Suite 5752 
Seattle, WA 98124-4708

  • An actual copy of the CGL or Business Liability additional insured policy provision must be attached to the certificate of insurance.

So long as current certification of insurance is approved and on file with the City, it may be used for all Master Film Permits issued during the policy period.  

Note: Insurance is NOT required if all of the following criteria apply: 

  • Production budget is less than $10,000
  • Five or fewer total cast and crew
  • One camera
  • Production will not be filming inside a City-owned facility or building
  • Traffic control is not required
  • Pedestrian traffic on sidewalks is not cordoned or blocked off
  • No electrical generation, wires, cables, or light set-up
  • Public parking will not be impacted  

Student Filmmakers - Students who are currently enrolled in regional filmmaking programs, and who are working on a program affiliated project are not required to submit proof of insurance. In most cases, students are covered by their school's insurance policy and do not need to be self-insured. This includes but is not limited to students enrolled at: Seattle Film Institute, University of Washington, Seattle University, Art Institute of Seattle, Shoreline Community College, Cornish College of Arts, and more. Please inquire with the Film Permit Specialist if you have questions about this stipulation.

Commmunity Notification

Filmmaking can be impactful.  The City of Seattle wants you to film here and wants our residents and businesses to feel the same way. Most of the complaints we receive are from businesses and residents who feel they have not been given adequate notice, or the notice did not accurately reflect the actual filming activity that took place.  With proper notification, your production will go smoothly, and the neighborhood will want you back for your next production.  Please follow the procedures outlined below when notifying residents and businesses in the area of your filming activity.

  • All adjacent properties shall be notified in writing a minimum of 3 days prior to filming
  • Notifications must be distributed in the area no less than one block in all directions from the area where you will be filming
  • Notifications must include the time of arrival, the filming hours, the time of departure, a general description of the impact (street parking taken, pedestrian or vehicle control, equipment on sidewalks or streets, etc), and a map showing the impacts to the neighborhood 
  • A sample notification form is provided on Appendix B below. If you prefer to make your own, be sure it contains all the information that is supplied on the sample form.

For productions that will have high impacts to a neighborhood, businesses, and residents, or will be operating outside of regular working hours, SDOT may require sign-off agreements from neighbors within production footprint.

Please refer to Appendix G - External contacts below  for contact information on community organizations, and City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods contacts that may be able to assist you with your outreach efforts.

Public Benefit

The City of Seattle is not allowed by the Washington State Constitution to gift public funds - therefore our office cannot operate as a funding source for any film productions. The Office of Film + Music needs to account for the use of City streets and buildings during filming now that the use is included in the film permit at no additional charge. Below are some examples of ways that productions companies can benefit the public.  Please contact the Film Office for more information.

  • Educational Opportunities on Set
  • Donations to Foundations that Benefit the City: Neighborhood organizations, Seattle Parks Department, "Friends of" Parks organizations, Seattle Public Library Foundation, Seattle Animal Shelter, Seattle Center Foundation, Woodland Park Zoo Society, etc
  • Donations to the City: Photographs of City property for marketing purposes, photos for Office of Film + Music website and social media, donations of plants to the Parks Department, upgrades to city-owned property used during filming, etc.

Filming in Seattle

Obtaining a Film Permit

Before your initial meeting or conversation with the Film Permit Specialist, please review the FAQ section, and Film Manual over at our website. After you've reviewed policies, complete the Seattle Film Permit Application via our online portal, Film App.

Film Permit Applications must be received a minimum of 3 to 5 business days before your shoot date. Low impact filming (b-roll, grid, roving, no street parking reservation) needs a minimum of 3 days; Permits that may require coordination with City departments need 5 business day lead time.. The Film Office will lead coordination efforts on your behalf with other city departments, including the Parks Department, Department of Transportation, Seattle Police Department and others.

Film Permit Applications will not be accepted if any information is missing, including a descriptive technical narrative of your shoot, site plans / maps (See Appendix C below for examples), equipment list, vehicle list, insurance documentation, etc. All fields in the application are required to be completed.

Applicants must remain easily reachable during the application process. Some locations may not be available on exact dates and times due to construction impacts, events, or other circumstances, and may require further mitigation. After the Film Permit Specialist has received approval for all aspects of your shoot, you will receive a copy of your permit, which must always be printed and kept on site during production.

Types of Shoots

While filling out your Master Film Permit application via Film App, you will be asked to select a shoot type that accurately reflects your filming activity. Each shoot type contains a different set of questions to help us better understand the scope of your production - so it is important that you select the correct one. You will need to add one of these for each location you'll be filming at.

Standard Filming on Location
The Standard Filming on Location shoot type will apply to most productions and locations. Any productions wishing to film in a city park, street, sidewalk, city-owned building, or reserve street parking, and do not meet all criteria for a "Low Impact Shoot" need to select this shoot type.

Low Impact Shoot (B-Roll, Grid, and ENG Permits)
The Low Impact shoot type is solely reserved for those wanting to apply for a b-roll, grid, or ENG type shoot. These Low Impact Permits (or "roving" permits) can be granted to productions filming b-roll, scenic, zero impact sidewalk scenes, and documentary-style footage, at public exterior locations throughout Seattle. To qualify for a roving permit, productions must meet all the following criteria:

  • Five or less total cast and crew on-site at any one time
  • One camera on-site
  • Outdoor production only
  • No traffic control required
  • No interruption to pedestrian activity
  • No electrical generation, wires, cables run, or lights set-up
  • Public parking will not be impacted

Filming B-roll in City of Seattle Parks
Filming b-roll or scenic footage in City of Seattle Parks may be requested by listing the parks on the "Street / Road" lines of the "Low Impact Filming" form.

No blanket b-roll permits will be issued for all Parks - each park must be specified on your application.  Because other events or activity may be booked in parks, productions must work around activity, or yield control of space to permitted events in necessary.

Filming B-roll on City of Seattle sidewalks Because b-roll and scenic filming is granted under the condition that productions not interrupt existing activity, no specific addresses are required in the permit application. Additionally, filming on private property is not included in your roving permissions - this includes filming at many Seattle landmarks. Please see the Private Locations / Landmarks section for locations that are not owned by the City of Seattle, and not covered by our film permit.

Filming "Iconic" Seattle with a B-Roll Permit
Many productions come to Seattle to shoot one of our many "scenic" and "iconic" locations - and wish to capture this footage as time allows across many days during their time in the city. These often come in the form of Reality TV or Travel Programs, or Tourism type showcases. We understand the need for flexibility for this type of shoot and want to make this as easy as possible for you within reason. Many "iconic" locations are privately owned, so some extra legwork is involved in getting permissions for these types of shoots. Please see this document for more details and a guide to permit this type of shoot properly with us and the private locations you may wish to visit.

Parking Only Request
The Parking Only Request shoot type is for those filming interiors on private property and need street parking to accommodate working production vehicles during the shoot. If you are doing any exterior filming, and need parking, please select the Standard Filming on Location shoot type instead. Information on how to arrange rental of barricades and verify your parking can be found in the section of the Film Manual. Filming with a

Drone
The Filming with a Drone shoot type is reserved for those wanting to use a UAS (Drone) for their shoot, and will be taking off and landing on, or flying over city-owned property. This shoot type has many different field types than other types and requires more documentation to be submitted. Please refer to the Drones / Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) section of the Film Manual for more details on what is required of productions and pilots for this type of shoot.

Wedding and Family Photography / Personal Photography
The Film Office does not require, or issue permits for wedding / personal photography. If you are filming in a city-owned park, the Seattle Parks & Recreation Department may require a permit however. Please visit their website for more details on the type of photography permit that may be required of you while filming in city parks.

Noise Variances

Filming in residential areas is prohibited between the hours of 10PM and 7AM on weekdays, and 10PM to 9AM on weekends without a temporary noise variance. This applies to the arrival and departure of cast, crew, and equipment as well as actual filming.

If advance written approval is obtained from neighboring residents who may be affected by afterhours activity, and you have provided a clear detailed scope of the afterhours activity within your application, the Film Office will obtain a noise variance for you from the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI). The cost of the noise variance is included in the permit fee. Obtaining noise variances requires a minimum of 5 business days to process. 

Pioneer Square

The Pioneer Square Neighborhood has its own special and unique qualities. It is a National Historic District, as well as home to two sports stadiums, and Parks and common spaces with events and programming permitted daily. Because of this, some restrictions are in effect in the area:

  • From Thanksgiving to Christmas, during Seafair Weekend (first weekend in August), and during "Game Days" at Century Link Stadium and Safeco Field - only low impact filming will be allowed, and in some instances no filming activity will be permitted. ·      
  • The Downtown Seattle Association programs Occidental Park in Pioneer Square with events most days of the week - productions will need to work in collaboration with these events or be able to work around them. 
  • Very few parking spots are available in Pioneer Square to reserve for working production vehicles - with some areas completely off limits to parking. please seek out alternatives to parking on city streets, such as renting private lots.   
  • The notification process is extremely crucial in the entire Pioneer Square neighborhood - in particular with businesses on Occidental Mall, Occidental Park, and 1st Ave. Face to face notification is required with business owners - please do not drop off notification letters. Productions will be asked to provide the Film Office with a list of businesses they have spoken with regarding their production, alert us to any concerns that may have arose, or if the business are on board with the filming.
  • Please reach out to Sara Pizzo , at the Alliance for Pioneer Square whenever planning a shoot in Pioneer Square. Alliance for Pioneer Square can help offer insights into potential conflicts in the area. Liz can be reached at sara@pioneersquare.org / (206) 667-0687 Ext. 107 
  • From 2018 to 2020, the Pioneer Square neighborhood is experiencing extreme impacts from construction projects - you are required to scout locations in person before filming, so you can accurately assess all potential conflicts.

Waterfront

Productions wanting to film in the Seattle Waterfront area should keep in mind the following:

  • Parking for production vehicles is extremely limited - please seek out alternatives to parking on city streets, such as renting private lots.
  • The notification process is extremely important for filming on the Waterfront. While planning your shoot, please reach out to Heidi Hughes with Friends of the Waterfront Seattle. Friends of the Waterfront can help offer insights into potential conflicts in the area. Heidi can be reached at heidi@friendsofthewaterfrontseattle.com / 206.747.0667
  • From 2018 to 2020, the Waterfront area is experiencing extreme impacts from construction projects - you are required to scout locations in person before filming, so you can accurately assess all potential conflicts.

Chinatown-International District

From three weeks before, Lunar New Year (which usually lands in early February) to three weeks after Lunar New Year, impactful and major filming in the Chinatown-International District is restricted. Please see the map in Appendix I, below, for an overview of the areas that filming will not be permitted in during this timeframe.  

Old Ballard

Ballard Ave and Old Ballard are great location for those looking for an "old-town" look and feel for their production. It is also the home to a large concentration of many small local businesses. Any productions looking to film in this area will be required to do extensive in-person outreach with any businesses whose adjacent parking, streets, or sidewalk will be impacted during filming. Productions must also reach out to the Ballard Alliance for further guidance on best practices for filming in the neighborhood. 

Capitol Hill's Pike/Pine Neighborhood

Capitol Hill's Pike / Pine neighborhood is one of the most vibrant and dense arts neighborhoods in the State of Washington, and in 2014 was designated by the City of Seattle as an official Art District. With this comes competition for street and park use. Special Events, and Seattle's recently exponential growth. Productions wishing to film in the Capitol Hill neighborhood must do extensive in-person outreach with any businesses whose adjacent parking, streets, or sidewalks will be impacted during filming. Productions must also be willing to work around pre-planned event schedules, and even the weeks leading up to large events like Capitol Hill Block Party (Late July) and Pride Weekend (Late June) so the neighborhood does not experience burnout. Productions wishing to film in the neighborhood must also reach out to the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce for further guidance on best practices for filming in the neighborhood. 

Holiday Moratorium

From Thanksgiving to New Year's, impactful and major filming in Downtown Seattle and Pioneer Square is restricted. Please see the map in Appendix I, below, for an overview of the areas that filming will not be permitted in during this timeframe.  Contact the Film Permit Specialist for details.

Private Locations/Landmarks

The Film Office only permits city-owned property, which can be defined as: streets, sidewalks, alleys, parks, and city owned buildings. That said, many Seattle landmarks are NOT city-owned, therefore are not covered by the master film permit. Please do not include the following locations, or other private businesses, in your film permit application - instead please reach out to the facility management directly to discuss their unique process.

Pike Place Market
Amy Wallsmith
Director of Marketing and Program Development
206.774.5278 / amy.wallsmith@pikeplacemarket.org
Pike Place Market Filming Guidelines: http://pikeplacemarket.org/commercial-filming 

Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass
Dave Mandipat
Director of Public Relations, Space Needle
davidm@spaceneedle.com / 206.905.2164

Seattle Monorail
Megan Ching
General Manager, Seattle Monorail
meganc@seattlemonorail.com / 206.905.2602
Seattle Monorail Filming Guidelines

Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
Janelle Doig
Sr. Manager / Event Sales, Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
janelled@mopop.org /206.262.3464

The Great Wheel / Miner's Landing
Andria Smith
Ticketing and Guest Services Manager
andria@pier57seattle.com / 206.602.1800

Olympic Sculpture Park
Domenic Morea
Director of Communications, Seattle Art Museum
DomenicM@SeattleArtMuseum.org / 206.748.9285 Rachel Eggers
Manager of Public Relations, Seattle Art Museum
rachele@seattleartmuseum.org / 206.654.3151 Washington State Ferries
Jadwiga Kellock
Operations Program Manager, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)
kellocj@wsdot.wa.gov / 206.234.3554

Filming in Washington State
(Outside of the City of Seattle)
Nancy Wilson
Program Manager of Production Services, Washington Filmworks
nancy@washingtonfilmworks.org / 206.264.0667 / washingtonfilmworks.org/

For contact information on many other popular private locations, business associations, government agencies, and more, please see Appendix G.

Filming in Seattle Parks

Please include each park your production would like to use under a different "Standard Filming on Location" shoot in your application. The film office will coordinate with the Parks Department on your behalf, please do not contact them directly. A minimum of 3 days is needed to process any film permit applications wanting to use Parks.

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) manages 485 parks and extensive natural areas throughout the City of Seattle. SPR provides athletic fields, tennis courts, play areas, specialty gardens, and more than 25 miles of boulevards and 120 miles of trails. The system comprises about 12% of the city's land area. SPR also manages many facilities, including 27 community centers, eight indoor swimming pools, two outdoor (summer) swimming pools, four environmental education centers, two small craft centers, four golf courses, an outdoor stadium, and much more. A list of Seattle Parks facilities can be found here: https://www.seattle.gov/parks/find

Most of these public spaces and facilities are available for filming through our application process. Film productions are not subject to Parks Department rental rates for use of buildings and property - those fees are covered by the standard $25 per day film permit fee. However additional fees will be charged for utilities, water hook-up, or Park staffing cost if it is required.

Productions will be required to hire Parks Department staffing on a case by case basis. Some examples include - use of community centers, bathhouses / event spaces, and during high impact shoots. If a production thinks Parks staffing may be required for their shoot, please apply a minimum of 5 days in advance, so there is ample time to find available staff members.

Parks staffing is charged at a rate of $30 per hour + $30 for an addtional hour for opening and closing of the facility. Once it is determined that a production must hire a Parks staff member for their shoot, they will be issued an invoice directly from the Parks Department - not the Film Office. This invoice must be paid before your final film permit will be issued. 

Filming in the Volunteer Park Conservatory may only occur Tuesday - Sunday, after 4:15 PM, subject to availability. No filming is allowed on Monday's or during normal operating hours. All productions wishing to film in the Volunteer Park Conservatory will be required to hire Parks Department staff members to be present during their shoot.

Due to wildlife nesting and understory or other plant protection, some of Seattle's Parks are restricted to certain types of activity in certain areas. Discovery Park and Seward Park are two locations in particular that are heavily protected.

No off-trail filming or equipment set up is allowed in wooded areas of Seattle Parks without specific permissions granted in the Master Film Permit and Parks Use Permit. Based on the sensitivity of the Park, off-trail filming conditions may include location, equipment, and/or filming activity restrictions, and may require Parks Department or Film Office staff to be hired to accompany the production during filming. Please include very specific location information about your filming activity and equipment in your requested Park location. Detailed maps are required (See Appendix C, below). If the activity is not able to be approve at your requested Park, the Film Office will work with you to find a suitable alternative location. As mentioned above, Discovery Park and Seward Park are two of the most ecologically protected parks in the City of Seattle. Along with the "No off-trail filming" stipulations above, each park carries its own additional set of rules:

  • Discovery Park
    • No more than 10 cast or crew on-site at any given time in most areas of the park and on all trails
    • Handheld equipment only on established trails within the park. No lights, dolly's, jib arms, props or other larger equipment will be allowed anywhere within the park
    • No cast or crew may ever step off trail, or set up equipment off trail, to get a shots
    • No parking is available at or near the West Point Lighthouse or south beach. Productions wishing to film in that portion of the park must drop off equipment at the roundabout, and relocate all production vehicles to the upper lots in the park
    • Productions may be required to conduct additional outreach with the King County West Point Treatment Plant, Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, or park residents, based on filming activity and location within the park
  • Seward Park
    • On the interior trail system of the park, no more than 10 cast or crew may be on-site at any given time
    • Handheld equipment only on interior trails within the park. No lights, dolly's, jib arms, props or other larger equipment will be allowed
    • No cast or crew may ever step off trail, or set up equipment off trail, to get a shots
    • Filming on the paved outer loop, and roads within the park carry some more lenient restrictions in regards to cast and crew size and equipment allowed
    • Productions may be required to conduct additional outreach with Friends of Seward Park, Seward Park Audubon Center, and Seward Park Clay Studio, based on filming activity and location within the park

Seattle Parks and Recreation manages over 200 athletic fields city-wide - many of which can be utilized for film productions (subject to availability) and can be reserved through the Film Permit application process. Field rental fees are covered by the film permit application fee.

For more information on the types of fields available in the type, please visit the Sports Field Reservation website: https://www.seattle.gov/parks/reserve/sports-field-reservations . Please scout all fields in person before choosing a final location - many fields are lined for specific sports depending on the season.

There are no interiors building locations at Magnuson Park available for filming under the Master Film Permit. Magnuson Park's Building 30 is reservable through the Parks Department only, and subject to their process and fee structure: https://www.seattle.gov/parks/reserve/event-space-rentals/magnuson-park-event-reservations


Exterior filming at Magnuson Park (open spaces, roads, shoreline, and sports fields) however is permitted through our normal process as detailed in this manual. 

Scenic and B-roll Filming in City of Seattle Parks

Filming b-roll or scenic footage in City of Seattle Parks is only allowed if production specifically states which parks they'd like to film in on the "Street / Road" lines of their "Low Impact Filming" application. No blanket b-roll permits will be issued for all Parks, they must be specified on your application. All other standard roving criteria must be met when filming in Parks under this permit type, including:

  • Five or less total cast and crew on-site at any one time
  • One camera on-site
  • Outdoor production only
  • No traffic control required
  • No interruption to pedestrian activity
  • No electrical generation, wires, cables run, or lights set-up
  • Public parking will not be impacted

The production must also understand that events may be booked in Parks between the time of their application and actual shoot date. In these instances, productions must work around activity, or yield control of space to permitted events in necessary

This is permitted by Parks and Recreation, as the Film Office issues permits for commercial productions only - which does not apply to professional / private photographers. If you are a hired photographer or you are planning on hiring a photographer or you plan to sell or profit off any photos that you take on Park property, you will need to acquire a photography permit directly from the Parks Department. Information on their process can be found here: https://www.seattle.gov/parks/reserve/photography-permits

UAV / UAS (Drones) are not allowed to take off and land, or fly over, and City of Seattle Parks Property. For more information on drone use for film productions, please see the Drones / UAS section, below.

Filming on Seattle Streets and Sidewalks

Film Permits will require coordination with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) if city right of way is impacted in any way. City right of way includes streets, sidewalks, and alleys. Instances where SDOT coordination may be required as follows:

The City of Seattle can only reserve parking for working production vehicles, and does not provide any parking a-frames or traffic controls signs.

As part of your film permit application you will be able to indicate if the production has a need for parking essential production vehicles near the filming location. It is possible to reserve parking in both metered (paid), and non-metered parking spaces around the city - subject to their availability. The spaces a production is requesting must be clearly marked on the site plan / map that is included in your film permit application. The Film Permit Specialist will then determine availability and receive approval from the Department of Transportation.

Productions will be charged a fee of $15 per meter per day for each metered parking spot that is reserved. No fees will be charged for metered spaces on Sundays or Holidays. There is no City fee for reserving non-metered street parking spaces.

Restrictions to note:

  • Parking is only available for working production vehicles only - this does not include cast and crew vehicles. The number of non-essential vehicles at a filming site should be kept at a minimum to minimize congestion and negative impacts to businesses and neighborhoods. It is strongly encouraged to find private parking lots for your cast, crew, and other non-essential production vehicles. Privately owned pay lots, and school or church parking lots are options city-wide.
  • Street parking spaces along arterials and other downtown streets are peak hour restricted - which means parking cannot be reserved or impacted between the hours of 6AM - 9AM and 3PM-6PM daily. Please consult the SDOT Seattle Parking Map to see if the areas you will be requesting park are impacted by peak hours restrictions. 

Parking Reservation Process and No-Parking Barricade Placement

  • No-Parking A-frame Rental: 
    • The production company is responsible for renting and setting up no-parking a-frames in reserved street parking spaces. The City of Seattle does not rent no-parking a-frame.  To locate a local vendor, search the web for "Seattle traffic control sign vendor." A-frame rental fees are not included in your permit fees from the City of Seattle.
  • No-Parking A-frame Placement: 
    • "No-Parking" a-frames must be placed 72 hours in advance and verified a minimum of 24 hours in advance. If a-frames have not been placed and verified 24 hours in advance, your parking reservation is no longer valid.
    • Time and date of parking restrictions must be clearly written on the a-frames
    • Once a-frames are erected, the production company is responsible for verifying that they are all up and in the correct spaces 24-48 hours in advance by using the Department of Transportation's online verification portal. It is the production company's responsibility to check that the a-frames are in the right place and are marked properly. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and the Office of Film + Music will not verify a-frame placement on a production's behalf. 
    • The online verification process must be completed 24 hours prior to the temporary new parking zone to take effect. Productions must print copies of the "Public Notice" that is generated by the online verification process and affix a copy to every two a-frames within the no-parking footprint. Parking Enforcement will not enforce Temporary No Parking Zones if the verification process has not been followed. For more information on SDOT's parking reservation guidelines and process, please see this document.
  • Removal of Illegally Parked Vehicles: 
    • If proper barricade placement procedures and verification process has taken place, and non-production vehicles are found inside the barricaded area, please call 911 for police to issue a citation. It is illegal to tow a vehicle from a public street unless a citation has been issued. The production company will be responsible if cars are towed illegally.
  • Production Vehicle Parking and Passes:
    • Free Parking Passes for Scouting Locations - The Film Office offers locations scouts a parking pass that allows them to park at meters/spaces without paying for a specified period before the first day of filming.
    • Production Vehicle Window Tags - Each working vehicle parked within the productions no-parking zone must hang a "Film Parking Permit" in their window. Productions need to request these from the Film Permit Specialist and pick them up from the office. These passes cannot be e-mailed. If these are not properly displayed in all production vehicles during a shoot - any tickets received during filming cannot be contested. 
    • Once all production vehicles have arrived or will no longer be coming and going from the filming location, the production company is responsible for folding and taking barricades off the street so regular parking may resume at the end of filming. Barricade pickup and delivery will be done by barricade companies.

Full street closures, detours, and intermittent traffic control (ITC) can be coordinated through the film permit application process. If your production thinks this will be a necessity for your shoot, a minimum of 5 days will be required to process the request, as vetting of the traffic revision is conducted by SDOT, SPD, and KC Metro (if bus routes are impacted).

In areas of heavy traffic, a traffic control plan (TCP) designed at the production company's expense may be required for your traffic revision. Traffic control plans describe where detours will be placed and the alternative routes that traffic will use. SDOT and SPD personnel will design the traffic control plan after reviewing your permit application. In locations of heavy traffic congestion, it is often possible to simplify the process by filming early on Saturday or Sunday mornings when there is less traffic. Directional signage, including street closure signs, traffic detour signs, traffic cones, etc. may be required by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) as part of the Traffic Control Plan or for a major street closure. This will all be at cost to the production company, and not included in the Film Permit Fee.  To locate a local vendor, search the web for "Seattle traffic control sign vendor."

Seattle Police Department

Film Productions are required to have a police services if a film production requires traffic control and revisions, weapons (replicas or real), safety hazards, filming depicting police activity (detectives / police making arrests, talent impersonating an officer), or unusual circumstances which could create alarm to the public. Exceptions will be determined by the Seattle Police Operations Center (SPOC). Uniformed police officers, working voluntarily on an off-duty basis, under the supervision of a lead officer will be hired to monitor and assist film production companies while filming in public areas in Seattle. The lead officer is a Seattle Police officer staffed by the (SPOC). The officers' responsibility is to maintain a police presence and protect the city's and citizens interest, as well as promote the productions safety and ability to get their work done.

After completing the Film Permit Application, the Film Permit Specialist will assess SPD needs, and introduce the production to Seattle Police Operations Center Film Liaison, Officer Ryan Gallagher. Officer Gallagher and the production will then discuss required staffing needs to execute the shoot safely. Film productions are required to hire the number officers determined by the SPD Film Liaison - a film permit will not be issued for a location until the production has entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SPD. The production is responsible for all cost associated with hiring officers for their shoot. This fee is paid directly to SPD, outside of the standard film permit fees, per the SPD MOU. 

There are four criteria used in determining police staffing levels, they are:

  • Safety issues (closure of a road for a high-speed chase / driving shot, explosions, traffic reroutes, weapons, stunts, etc
  • Intermittent traffic control (ITC) needs
  • Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) requirements
  • Security (Determined by filming location, time of day, high profile talent or equipment on site, etc.)
  • Production company request

  • Officers are paid from the time they are told to report until the time they are dismissed. Officers using police vehicles are paid from the time they pick up a patrol car until the time they return it to a precinct (patrol vehicles are part of a working fleet and must be protected by insurance while in operation.)
  • Do not have officers report before you need them, or stagger reporting times if possible
  • The lead officer is the main contact at each shoot. The lead officers will need one specific person who speaks on behalf of the production company during the permitting process and on filming day. The lead officer will need a copy of the permit upon arrival
  • Provide as much notice as possible for request and locations needs
  • Advise your lead officer of cancellations as soon as possible to avoid paying minimum show-up charges. Cancellations without 24 hours advance notice will result in a 4 hours minimum charge.

  • The production company will be invoiced by the City of Seattle Police Department. Off-duty officers rates are approximately $70 per hours per officer, with a 4 hour minimum hire. In most cases two officers are required to be hired for all shoots.
  • Officers are responsible for security and safety at the location site, and are paid whether they are on duty or on a meal break
  • Officer Reassignment Due to Schedule Changes: Filming schedules must sometimes be changed after an officers has been assigned for work. In this event, please reach out to Ofcr. Gallagher as soon as possible - if efforts to contact the officers are not successful, they must still be paid the minimum of four hours
  • Police Liaison Fees: Production companies will be charged for liaison work if deemed excessive due to multiple scheduling changes, delays, and or field visits.

The use of weapons (real or simulated), and violent content in a public place, or in view of the public, will require the presence of Seattle Police on site. 

Seattle Police Officers, vehicles, uniforms, insignia and equipment will not be made available for us on film by film companies without written express consent of the Chief of Police. To begin conversations and discuss potential for use - please contact Seattle Police Department Public Affairs Director, Sergeant Sean Whitcomb at 206.615.0923 / sean.whitcomb@seattle.gov. Please note, these inquires may take more than 10 days to process. 

Other Departments

Filming at Seattle Center

Filming at Seattle Center

The Seattle Center campus is property of the City of Seattle, and a film permit will be required for filming at all exterior locations. If you would like to film the interior of any buildings on campus - please reach out to the Film Permit Specialist for details on who to contact.

Seattle Center is also home to many buildings and areas that are not owned by the City of Seattle. The Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Monorail, Key Arena, McCaw Hall, Memorial Stadium, MoPOP, the Pacific Science Center, KEXP, Seattle Children's Theatre, and more are all independently managed and have their own permissions process. Please consult our "External Contacts" page for the correct



Seattle City Light manages several city-owned properties and facilities (some outside of city limits) that are available for filming through our film permit process. Please first reach out to our office first to state your intent to film at one of these properties and fill out a film permit application. After your materials are gathered, we will then put you in contact with the appropriate associated staff member to complete their unique application process. Each of these locations has their own fee structure for use outside of film office's application fee.


Georgetown Steam Plant

  • Requires site visit before application submission
  • Extremely sensitive, "museum-like" environment. Please see Appendix H, below, for detailed information on guidelines for filming at this location
  • $500 / $1000 deposit required regardless of production size
  • Production will be required to hire and pay for Seattle City Light staff to be on site for day of filming. Staffing levels dependent on activity
  • Point of Contact: Juliana Ross, julianna.ross@seattle.gov / 206.684.3977

Diablo and Ross Dams

  • Requires site visit before application submission
  • May require safety training due to potential hazards presented by the location
  • $500 / $1000 deposit required regardless of production size
  • Point of Contact: Scott Thomsen - scott.thomsen@seattle.gov / 206.615.0978

Use of open flame, special effects, smoke machines, and fireworks may require a permit through the City of Seattle Fire Marshall's Office.

Please clearly any special effects use in the "Special Effects (rain, fire, explosion, smoke, etc.)" field of the Film Permit Application. The Film Permit Specialist will work with the Fire Marshal to determine the necessary permits needed. Pyrotechnics (fireworks use) or Class C Special Effects permits, can be issued as part of the master film permit. Depending on activity - some special effects permits may come at a cost to the production that is not covered by the standard $25 per day permit fee.

Filming of Fire Department Staff and Equipment
Seattle Fire Department staff, vehicles, uniforms, insignia and equipment will not be made available for us on film by film companies without written express consent of the Fire Department Chief. To begin conversations and discuss potential for use - please contact Seattle Fire Department Public Affairs Director, Kim Schmanke at 206.386.1335 / Kim.Schmanke@seattle.gov . Please note, these inquires may take more than 10 days to process. 

Hydrant Use
Hydrant use permits are issued for wet-downs and water FX as part of the Master Film Permit. Include the hydrant use request in the "Special Request" portion of the film permit application.  A detailed map must be submitted showing the hydrant the production would like to use, as well as location of tanker truck, and any hose that will be laid, and a schematic of the water/rain FX. The Film Permit Specialist will lead coordination with Seattle Public Utilities and obtain your hydrant permit for you.

  • Productions must first consult the Low Impact Hydrant map to see they'll be able to fill at one of the hydrants listed on the map. Permits for hydrants on this map have a much quicker turn around time than those that are not. If productions are not able to use one of the listed "Low Impact Hydrants," and need to use one at another location, please allowed 3 to 5 business days for hydrant permit processing as additional restrictions may be put in place to ensure safe use of the hydrant.
  • All water holding tanks truck vehicles must have prior inspection by the SPU Utilities Services Senior Inspection team. Washington State regulations require Cross Connection Specialist put the certificate number on the tanker truck inspection report. Call 206.233.2635 48 hours before tanker truck inspection. If a tanker truck has been inspected in the last year AND is using a "Low Impact Hydrant" they do not need to schedule an inspection. If the tanker truck is using a non-low impact hydrant, they need to schedule an inspection regardless.
  • Permit holders must meet the requires of the hydrant use permit, including which hydrants(s) cannot be used, and follow instruction provided by SPU on proper operation of hydrant. ·       Permit holders may provide their own valves if approved by SPU. However, SPU has valves available for permit users at an additional fee. Use of SPU's valves and equipment require a 7 business day advanced notice minimum, and a fee for equipment use will be charged to the production.
  • Permit holders shall provide their own Reduced Pressure backflow Assembly (RPBA) and test report showing annual testing by the Backflow Assembly Tester (BAT)
  • The production company must provide hose equipment 

Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area

The Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area (Cedar River Watershed) in North Bend, WA is owned and operated by Seattle Public Utilities and is available for use by film productions. Additional fees and paperwork are involved in the permitting of this area for use however, please be aware of the following:

  • Productions still need to apply for a master film permit through the Film Office
  • The Film Office will then put productions in contact with Pierre LaBarge, Public Education Program Specialist with Seattle Public Utilities. Pierre can be reached at 206.386.1585 / pierre.labarge@seattle.gov   
  • Productions will then need to fill out a separate Seattle Public Utilities Application. The permit cost for work at Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area is $150, and most but not all projects will be required to have a Watershed staff with them onsite during filming. Watershed staffing fees are an additional $75.00 an hour for a minimum of 5 hours at $375.
  • Watershed staff are also available for scouting assistance before your shoot at a rate of $75 per hour.
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS or Drones) are prohibited for use on and above Rattlesnake Recreation Area land.
  • Please review Seattle Public Utilities "Special Use Event Permit Guidelines" and the area map for more details.

King County Metro, Sound Transit, and Other Transit

The Film Office coordinates with King County Metro on all street use film permits.  However, productions may also need to coordinate with King Country Metro if bus lanes, bus stops, or heavily trafficked bus routes will be impacted by filming activity or traffic revisions. Please note in your application if you would like a bus stop to be relocated for your shoot and include its location on your site map.

Renting a King County Metro Bus
At extra cost to the production, King Country Metro Buses are available to rent to filming under the following stipulations:

  • Metro needs approx. 10 business days to get the arrangements for driver and bus, date, time where coach is needed. If coach will be driving will need an outline of the proposed routing and a contact name and cell number for the driver to contact (in the event of any delays or breakdowns)
  • The Contractor shall ensure that the vehicles are not filmed in any scene which includes a weapon, an act of violence, a threat of violence or any nudity or sexual conduct.
  • The vehicles shall not be used in any high speed or other maneuvers not typically performed in regular operations and shall not be involved in scenes with other vehicles which may be engaged in such maneuvers.
  • The Contractor shall not film the King County logo featuring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in conjunction with the name "Metro" on the vehicles or alter the vehicles or their appearance without prior consent of the County written or verbal. 
  • All vehicles covered by the Agreement shall be operated only by qualified, properly licensed Metro employees.
  • Production must submit a separate Certificate of Insurance to King County Metro, as well as sign a "Letter of Understanding
  • Rental Rates:
    • 40' or 50' bus = $152.77 per hour (Includes operator who drives the bus)
    • Driver Rates (for extra drivers if needed, since the bus driver driving the bus is included) = $57.56 per hour (2.5 hour minimum)  
    • For more information on bus rentals for film productions, please contact King County Metro System Impacts & Events Coordinator Glenn Bartolome at 206.477.5781 / glenn.bartolome@kingcounty.gov  

Street Car

The South Lake Union Street Car, and First Hill Street Car are available for use for film productions through the Film Permit process. The street car is jointly managed by King County Metro and the City of Seattle Department of Transportation. There are three viable scenarios for filming on Street Cars:

  1. Filming with minimal impact aboard an active train or at an active platform. This option is only available to small, non-invasive crews with handheld equipment, who are willing to work around regular train activity.
  2. Hiring an out-of-service train to film aboard. This option has the most availability on weekends, and may not be available on weekdays. This option will require the client to pay for 1 operator ($47.24/hour) and 1 supervisor ($62.48/hour) to operate the vehicle. The vehicle will travel at a regular pace, stopping at regular stops, to minimize disruption to the line.

Filming aboard an out-of-service train in either the SLU or First Hill maintenance yard. In this scenario, the train will be static. Production will likely be required to hire 1 supervisor ($62.48/hour) to supervise the film shoot. A scout walkthrough with streetcar staff is required prior to final approval of filming in the yard.

Timing: Filming cannot be permitted aboard active streetcars or on active platforms during peak use hours (7am-9am, 3pm-7pm on weekdays). There is more availability for filming out-of-service trains, both on an active line and in the yard, on Saturdays and Sundays. The most availability for out-of-service trains is on Sundays. Hiring streetcar staff is subject to availability and requires a minimum of 10 days for a request to be considered. If planning to film on a street car, please contact the Film Permit Specialist and have a map ready notating the route you will be riding, and noting your boarding and de-boarding locations, as well as a full equipment list.

Link Light Rail and Sounder Train cars, platforms, Union Station, and downtown transit tunnel areas are all property of Sound Transit. Use of these locations is not coordinated through the Film Office. To coordinate - please contact Sound Transit Marketing and Event Specialist, Lynn-dee Schwarz  at 206.398.5064 / lynndee.schwarz@soundtransit.org

King Street Station and Amtrak Platform Use of King Street Station external property and interiors are not coordinated through the film permit process. To coordinate a shoot at King Street Station, please contact Facility Manager Bill LaBorde with the City of Seattle Department of Transportation at 206.684.0102 / bill.laborde@seattle.gov   Use of the Amtrak platform however is not covered by the City of Seattle Department of Transportation. For use of the Amtrak platform, please contact Alice Rose at alice.rose@amtrak.com

Drone / Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

The use of Drones or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) is an exciting, ever changing new facet of the filmmaker's toolkit. The Film Office strives to keep up with all current standards as set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration, to ensure safe and legal aerial photography in Seattle. The permitting process for UAS use can often take more time than your average film permit - so please plan ahead. Turn around time for operators who have worked with the Film Office before is a minimum of 5 business days; if the operator has not worked with our office before, please allow a minimum of 10 business days.


The flying of UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems), also referred to as drones, for commercial purposes is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) throughout the United States. Therefore, the flight of UAS for commercial purposes must be in compliance with current FAA regulations. The FAA mandates that operators of UAS for commercial purposes are required to verify all other permits, exceptions, or permissions needed for your specific use. Currently, commercial filming with UAS must fall under the small UAS rule (16 CFR Part 107) for UAS weighing 55 lbs. or less, and Section 333 Exemption for UAS weighing more than 55 lbs. All UAS use is subject to the City's laws of general applicability, such as Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 12A.06.050 which states that a "person is guilty of reckless endangerment when he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person." Please consult the City of Seattle UAS for Film Production: Conditions for Use for more details. (See Appendix E)

When is a City of Seattle Film Permit Required for UAS Operations?

  • The UAS is taking off or landing on City-owned property (streets, sidewalks, and parks)
  • The UAS is flying over City-owned property, and requiring control (holding vehicle or pedestrian traffic)  

When is a City of Seattle Film Permit NOT Required for UAS Operations?

  • When the drone is taking off and landing on private property, and is flying exclusively over private property
  • Drone flights taking place solely over waterways, and not taking off or landing on City of Seattle property

The production company and hired UAS operator are responsible for different parts of the film permit application process when it comes to drones. Please read over these items carefully - each step is important, and required. Permits will be delayed if all materials are not sent to the Film Permit Specialist as listed.

Why Do I Need a Need a City of Seattle Film Permit for UAS Operations?

  • FAA Section 107 regulations state: "You can't fly a small UAS over anyone who is not directly participating in the operation, not under a covered structure, or not inside a covered stationary vehicle. No operations from a moving vehicle are allowed unless you are flying over a sparsely populated area."
  • While the City of Seattle does not have any control over airspace, the above rule has direct impacts to public property because it will require you to hold pedestrian or vehicle traffic in order to legally and safely fly your UAS.
  • UAS operators are required to discuss this regulation with the production before submitting their application and creating their Description of Activities. This is so productions can plan for extra staffing for pedestrian holds, or extra cost that may be associated with hiring police to hold vehicle traffic.

Please see below for instructions regarding the responsibilites of all parties involved during the drone permitting process.

Hiring a Drone Operator:
When finding an operator, please verify that they are registered with and authorized by the FAA and any applicable state laws to operate UAS for your commercial filming.

Operator Registration:
Once a production has hired a UAS operator:

  • Put the UAS operator in direct contact with the Seattle Film Office.
  • If the operator has not previously worked with the city the Film Office will gather required insurance and registration document or verify that the credentials they have previously submitted to the Film Office are still valid.
  • Plan ahead! If the UAS operator has not worked with the Film Office previously, this process can take more than 5 business days.

Shoot Planning:

  • The location manager must consult with the UAS operator while planning the shoot:
  • The operators should be able to advise on required street closures, when traffic or pedestrian holds are necessary, when a filming location is in restricted air space, or if you are up against any FAA regulations that may conflict with your plan.
  • The operator will be required to submit a "Description of Activities" (DOA) for each shoot location, which you will need to upload with the film permit application. The DOA must be completed by the operator, NOT the location manager / applicant.
  • Each shoot location requested in the film permit application must have a street closure map that correlates to the flight path shown in the operator's DOA.  This map must show street closure locations, and all anticipated SPD Officer and/or PA/crew locations for vehicle and pedestrian holds.

Application Submission:
Submit a Film Permit Application per the normal means at: www.seattle.gov/filmpermit. The drone operator should not be involved in the completion and submittal of the actual the permit application. All applications must be submitted in a complete manner, a minimum of 5 days in advance. Please pay attention to the following steps when filling out your application some are different from a standard film permit application:

  • Select "Filming with a Drone" as your shoot type, and fill out subsequent information
  • Upload insurance documents for the production company only. Aviation insurance is collected from the operator directly and verified in their communications with the Film Office.
  • Provide a copy of your notification letter to the Film Office to have on file with your application. Notifications must be distributed a minimum of three days in advance to affected neighbors and businesses.

Initial Operator Registration with the City of Seattle Film Office (One Time Occurrence)
Once the below documents are provided to the City of Seattle Film Office, an operator will not be required to submit this information to the Film Office again until one or more of them expire. All listed documents are required.

  • A copy of the operators Remote Pilot Certificate, Part 107 Compliance Documentation, and any other waivers, licenses, or permissions granted by the FAA for pilot and operator UAS use
  • A copy of the UAS Certificate of Registration for any crafts that will be used for productions
  • Proof of $2M UAS/Drone Aviation Liability Coverage in the form of:
    • Certificate of Insurance
      • This document is typically issued by your insurance broker, AND
    • Additional Insured Policy Endorsement
      • This document is directly from your insurance carrier, although your broker should be able to obtain it from you.

Operator's Responsibility per Permitted Shoot (Must be Submitted for Each Shoot)
The UAS operator is not responsible for filling out the film permit application for any shoot - this is solely the responsibility of the location manager. However, you must work closely with the location manager to plan the shoot in a way that meets all FAA Section 107 requirements - this includes educating location managers on FAA rules and regulations including restricted airspace, night operations, flying over non-participants, and any control that may need to be exercised during filming.

For each shoot, the drone operator must prepare a Description of Activities (DOA) for each shoot location and share it with the location manager to submit with their application. The operator must prepare the DOA themselves, not the location manager. The DOA must be completed a minimum of 5 days in advance of the shoot date and must be submitted with the application the location manager submits to the Film Office. The DOA must include the following information:

  • A detailed map of the UAS flight plan notating:
    • Point of takeoff, exact flight path, and landing point
    • Areas that need to be closed, controlled, or restricted to the general public
    • Description of the dates and times of operation, including duration of each flight, and details on how the flight meets the standards set forth by the FAA        
  • Please see our website for an example DOA

There is several drone operators whose credentials from the FAA and insurance documentation have already been cleared by our office. If you would like to be added to this list, please contact the Film Permit Specialist at filmoffice@seattle.gov

Hobbyist drone use can operate in Seattle without a Section 333 or Section 107 authorization, provided the user comply with the FAA guidance for hobbyist operators.   

All hobbyist drone use is subject to the City's laws of general applicability, such as Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 12A.06.050 which states that a "person is guilty of reckless endangerment when he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person."

The No-Fly Zone goes into effect one hour before, and lasts until one hour after, the scheduled time of event (see next sentence).  All aircraft and parachute operations are prohibited at and below 3,000 feet within a 3-nautical mile radius (a nautical mile is 1.3 standard mile) of any stadium having a seating capacity of 30,000 or more people in which a Major League Baseball, National Football League, NCAA Division One football, Major League Soccer or major motor speedway event is occurring.  Questions should be directed to the FAA at (800) 992-7433.

UAS Filming Filming at the Space Needle and Seattle Parks

UAS Filming in Seattle Parks

UAS are not allowed to take off, land, or fly over Seattle Parks Department property. No exceptions will be granted for this policy.

Planning a UAS Shoot at the Space Needle

A City of Seattle Film Permit is required for all UAS activity taking place at the Space Needle and surrounding areas. Please follow these steps to ensure a safe and successful shoot.

Why Do I Need a City of Seattle Film Permit for UAS Operations?

  • FAA Section 107 regulations state: "You cannot fly a small UAS over anyone who is not directly participating in the operation, not under a covered structure, or not inside a covered stationary vehicle. No operations from a moving vehicle are allowed unless you are flying over a sparsely populated area."
  • While the City of Seattle does not have any control over airspace, the above rule has direct impacts to public property because it will require you to hold pedestrians or vehicle traffic in order to legally and safely fly your UAS. THe area surrounding the Space Needle is Seattle Center property, which is owned and permitted by the City of Seattle

Step 1: Outreach with Space Needle Staff

If you are thinking of filming with a UAS at the Space Needle, please first reach out to the Space Needle staff to discuss your projects. Please discuss with the Space Needle staff your project scope, potential dates, location fees, copyright fees, and any additional fees required to use the Space Needle as part of your project. Please reach out to the Space Needle Public Relations team to start discussions: Dave Manipat, Director of Public Relations, 206.905.2164 / davem@spaceneedle.com

Step 2: Applying for a Film Permit and Planning your Shoot

Once initial contact has been made with Space Needle staff, you will be introduced to the Film Permit Specialist with the City of Seattle Office of Film + Music to start the film permit application process. Please carefully review the "Commercial Filming Use of UAS (Drones)" web site before beginning your planning and application. Once a full application has been received the Film Office will review official FAA paperwork, insurance, and flight plans and then finalize plans with the Space Needle and Seattle Center staff. Please feel free to reach out to the Film Permit Specialist at ay time during this process.

Step 3: Approval and Day of Flight

Once all items have been approved a final film permit will be distributed to the applicant, Seattle Center, and Space Needle staff. "Drone Filming in Progress" a-frames must be picked up from the Office of Film + Music to place on site during flights for public awareness.

General Flight Plan Requirements

  • Filming with a UAS will only be permitted at the Space Needle and surrounding grounds on weekdays before 9AM. Monday through Wednesday are the lightest days on Seattle Center campus - therefore these days are preferred for all shoots.
  • Please plan at least one contingency date for your shoot. Your first choice may not work due to pre-scheduled events on Seattle Center campus, please submit two possible shoot days with your permit request.
  • Flights operating in and up and down only motion, or are contained to one defined area will be easier to permit - and may be able to be permitted quicker, and with a shorter amount of lead time.
  • Flights circling the Space Needle covering multiple areas, and that cross over pedestrian pathways will require more planning and staffing and will require a minimum of 2 weeks to plan and staff safely.
  • Please plan for staffing fees, or to have extra production staff on hand. Depending on the level of activity, you will need plenty of production staff on hand to lock up areas during flights. Depending on the activity, in some instances Seattle Center and / or Space Needle staff will be required to be hired at cost to the production.

Appendix

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