Guidelines for Filming at Caltech
- News media covering an active or breaking news story do not require a permit. Contact Caltech Media Relations to coordinate news media requests.
- To obtain permission for videography and photography for private special occasions such as portraits, weddings and engagements, please see our Special Occasion Photography page.
Thank you for your interest in the Caltech campus as a possible filming location. These guidelines have been developed to outline and streamline the process of obtaining permission to film on campus from start to finish.
For simplicity, as used in these guidelines, "filming" includes videography and photography intended for commercial distribution. Filming for commercial distribution requires the approvals outlined below before work may begin.
The Caltech Office of Strategic Communications (OSC) is responsible for all arrangements pertaining to filming on the Caltech campus, including obtaining permissions and supervising the film shoot. OSC vets and processes all requests to film on campus and coordinates with all Institute units on your behalf. All filming guidelines, including the Institute's fee schedule, can be found at filming.caltech.edu.
Filming on campus is permitted only if it does not interfere with normal Institute business (including meetings, instruction, and research) and previously scheduled events. Written permission from an authorized Caltech representative is required to film on campus. Filming will be approved only when all following requirements have been met:
- Specific date(s) and location(s) are confirmed and approved by OSC
- Script or storyboard (where applicable to Caltech) is approved by OSC
- Institute personnel are available
- Caltech Parking and Transportation Services approves parking plan for production vehicles and private cars
- Certificate of Insurance is received by OSC no less than two (2) business days prior to filming
- Full payment of all fees (cashier's check or certified check) is received by OSC no less than two (2) business days prior to filming
- All security and damage deposits, if required, are received by OSC no less than two (2) business days prior to filming
- A signed film location agreement
- Filming permits from the City of Pasadena (learn more at https://ww5.cityofpasadena.net/planning/arts-and-cultural-affairs/film-office/)
A location manager or representative of the production company must conduct a walkthrough of desired location(s) with a designated Caltech filming liaison ten (10) working days prior to filming when possible. While most of the Caltech campus may be used for filming, it is not permitted in the following locations:
- Seismology Lab
- Beckman Behavioral Biology
Filming is permitted in the following locations ONLY with prior approval:
- The Athenaeum
- Parsons-Gates (interior)
OSC requires a detailed shooting schedule indicating all areas to be impacted by the shoot (in front of and behind the camera) and all measures the production will take to ensure the integrity of the area as well as the minimization of impact to normal Institute business. If at all possible, the schedule should be submitted to OSC for review and approval no less than ten (10) business days prior to the proposed start of filming. Once the location is approved, the production must follow the schedule as submitted. Changes to this schedule must be submitted, in writing, for approval by OSC.
Use of any location can only be approved with the consent of the venue holder and consideration of the surrounding areas and activities. Scheduled Institute events, regardless of size, take precedence over film shoots in determining location availability.
A complete copy of the final script or storyboard, where applicable to Caltech, must be submitted for approval to a campus filming liaison. OSC must approve the sections of the script applicable to Caltech prior to the signing of the contract. Any script changes or additions (including title change) must be brought to the attention of the filming liaison once approval has been granted.
Any use of the Caltech name, wordmark, seal, or intellectual property is governed by Institute policy. Request for use of any such material must be submitted to OSC in advance.
Caltech requires Institute personnel, including the filming liaison/site representative, Caltech Fire Marshal, Caltech Facilities (e.g., electricians), and Caltech Security to be present as a condition of use (as determined by Caltech Security). Individual locations may require additional staff familiar with the specific location (e.g., librarians). Personnel must be scheduled in advance of the film shoot.
OSC is the Institute's contact point for the production company. The Caltech filming liaison will assist film company personnel with scouts, obtaining permission to film from various campus agents and contract negotiations, and will be present on the day(s) of filming.
All parking on campus is by permit only. Arrangements for cast, crew, and production vehicles must be made in advance of the shoot. Parking for trucks and trailers is extremely limited on campus. Transportation captains of large companies should visit campus at least seven (7) business days prior to the day(s) of filming to finalize special arrangements. Parking fees are based on the number of parking spaces occupied by the company, staffing, and labor.
The Institute must receive a Certificate of Insurance, naming the California Institute of Technology as additionally insured, for the day(s) of filming, load in and strike a minimum of two (2) business days prior to filming and/or load in.
Coverage requirements are as follows:
- US $5 million – feature/television productions
- US $2 million – documentary productions
- US $1 million – still photography productions
Payment for all fees and services must be payable to the California Institute of Technology and be received no later than two (2) business days prior to commencement of filming. The Caltech filming location manager will determine total costs. Cost will include all permit fees, location rentals, staffing, and (Institute supplied) equipment or materials. A non-refundable deposit will be required to hold a particular date or location. The deposit will be the amount equal to the sum of a one (1) day film permit and a one (1) day location rental. If a company check is not available, a cashier's or certified check will be required.
Payment of the fee applicable to your production type grants you a permit to film on the Caltech campus and includes one campus filming liaison who will assist with all aspects of production, including location scouting, preproduction, and day-of management. These fees are charged from the arrival of the first production vehicle to the departure of the last production vehicle. All other fees, including security, facilities, location use fees, etc. are separate.
Still Photography = $250/hour
Sponsored Films/Industrials = $300/hour
Online-only Advertisements/Web Series = $350/hour
Advertisements/Commercials = $400/hour
Television/Episodic/Pilots = $550/hour
Feature Films = $650/hour
Documentaries = Determined on case-by-case basis
Prep/Strike Days = 50% of designated hourly rate
NOTE: Final assignment of filming category will be determined by Caltech.
Location Use Fees
Campus Interiors = $500–$1,500 per venue
Campus Exteriors = $1,000–$3,000 per venue
John W. Lucas Wind Tunnel = $8,000 per day (plus $80 per hour for required technical staff)
Off-Campus Observatories (Palomar, Owens Valley, etc.) = $5,000–$10,000 per day
Athenaeum (Private Club) = $5,000–$10,000 per day
Parking Spaces = $6–$10 per vehicle (depends on size of vehicle)
Parking Attendant = $35 per hour
Campus Filming Liaison (Caltech Site Representative) = $100 per hour, per liaison (more than one liaison will be required if production crew consists of more than 40 people or utilizes more than one location)
Caltech Security = $75 per hour, per officer (Caltech Security determines number of officers needed based on size of production)
Additional Location Manager = $50 per hour (incurred if a location requires that a member of their own staff be present during filming)
Operations and Maintenance Fees
Fees ranging from $50 to $100 per hour will be charged for any operations and/or maintenance-related work (e.g. air conditioning, fountains, electrical). These services must be requested at least 48 hours prior to the first day of production.
Cancellation of an approved film permit must be received no less than two (2) business days prior to scheduled start of filming. THE PERMITTEE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY LABOR OR DIRECT INSTITUTE COSTS ACCRUED AT THE TIME OF CANCELLATION. IF CANCELLATION OCCURS, THE PERMITTEE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL VENUE RENTALS AND A MINIMUM OF ONE (1) DAY FILM PERMIT IN ADDITION TO ANY LABOR AND DIRECT COSTS.
During your stay at Caltech, all persons involved with the filming will adhere to the Professional Filmmaker's Code of Conduct as outlined by the California Film Commission at http://www.film.ca.gov/CommunityFilmInfo_FilmmakersCode.htm.
Personnel in any way connected with the production can be ejected from the campus for displaying behavior that is deemed to be disruptive to the operation of the Institute, or for being offensive in language or behavior to students, faculty, staff, administrators, or Institute guests.
Access: It is imperative that the Institute community have access to all active facilities. Permission to film on campus is contingent upon the film crew allowing for access to locations where filming is taking place.
Placement of Filming Equipment: Filming equipment (e.g., cameras, tracks, props, generators, and electrical cords) shall be set up in a manner that does not create safety hazards. Film crews must ensure that the placement of such equipment does not result in tripping hazards, fire hazards, blocked exits, or other safety concerns. In all cases, mats or other cable coverings must be used when cables are laid out across a walkway. You are required to place layout board in all non-carpeted areas so that all filming equipment, whether mobile or stationary, is not directly touching the flooring. Cones must be put around any production vehicles not in a marked parking space, including the generator(s). Prior approval must be given if using a Condor or other heavy crane on concrete or bricks. If using a Condor or other heavy crane on grass, plywood must be laid out under the tires when driving and when parked. All cranes must be coned off with caution tape around them.
Signage: All directional signs (e.g., for crew/truck parking or directions to set) must be attached to stanchions and may not be hung on anything, including trees, poles, etc. The company may supply their own stanchions or can rent them from the Institute.
Fire/Tent Permit: Under all circumstances, the production company is responsible for notifying the City of Pasadena Fire Department (PFD). If using a tent for any purpose, a copy of the tent permit must be posted within the tent or carried by the location manager and must be shown upon request.
Modifications: You may not drill, nail, glue, or alter any campus property in any way without permission from OSC and Caltech Facilities. If this permission is granted, you must return property to its original state unless other arrangements have been made.
Construction: Temporary construction shall be conducted in a fashion that shall neither damage Institute property nor in any way endanger faculty, staff, students, or visitors. The erection of building facades and other construction that could impede fire lanes or otherwise affect the safety of pedestrians or building occupants must be approved by Caltech Facilities prior to construction. All construction, equipment set-up, and other activities associated with filming must be conducted safely and in accordance with OSHA and PFD standards. As such, employees associated with the film project must utilize safety procedures that will ensure their safety as well as that of Institute employees, students, and visitors.
Fire Protection Equipment: The use of fire hydrants and other fire protection equipment for purposes of filming must be coordinated with Caltech Facilities in advance of the project. Caterers using charcoal grills must protect the space beneath the grill with layout board or similar ground protection.
Refueling/Fuel Truck on Campus:
- Fuel trucks need to be staged off campus until needed for refueling only.
- The truck needs to be a fully and properly equipped refueling truck.
- Generators MUST be shut down before refueling, absolutely no "hot pumping" is permitted on the Institute campus.
- Both the Fire Safety Office and Department of Public Safety shall be contacted by the Transportation coordinator of the production prior to any refueling.
- An exclusion zone with a perimeter of a minimum fifty (50) foot radius shall be established prior to any refueling operation.
- Refueling will be a two-person operation with one person pumping and the other with a fire extinguisher IN HAND and at the ready.