January 27, 2021

Producer's Guide: New Orleans Film Permits

Phillip Paquette
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The wild eye energy on Bourbon Street. Porches that stretch across the French Colonial buildings and Creole Cottages. If you’ve ever been, you know New Orleans has a certain je ne sais quoi.

With the historic St James AME Church used as police HQ in 21 Jump Street and gut-wrenching scenes shot to reenact antebellum plantations on 12 Years a Slave, the Big Easy has been the backdrop for many memorable films. If you're looking to shoot your next commercial, feature, or tv project in NOLA, you'll need a New Orleans film permit.

In this guide, we'll answer the most frequently asked questions around New Orleans filming permits including what they cover, how to apply for a New Orleans film permit, how much they cost, and what you need to complete a New Orleans film permit application.

What are New Orleans film permits?

A film permit is a certificate from Film New Orleans providing permission for commercial filmmaking activities to occur in the city of New Orleans. 
Film New Orleans determines the level of film impact on neighborhoods and the community on a location by location basis. However, they generally define the levels of impact in their guidelines as follows…

Low Impact Filming: 

  • No discernible interruption of pedestrian traffic
  • The administration of Intermittent Traffic Control (ITC) in which vehicular traffic is held for no more than three to five-minute intervals
  • Minimal impact on normal business or residential activities 
  • Permitted parking on city streets of no more than four blocks 

Medium Impact Filming: 

  • The use of simulated gunfire 
  • The administration of street closures for one to three film working days at one location
  • Film activity conducted over nighttime hours 
  • Permitted parking on City streets of no more than eight blocks

High Impact Filming:

  • Film activity that exceeds more than five continuous film working days at one location 
  • High-speed car chases or crashes 
  • Use of pyrotechnics or explosives 
  • Use of low-flying aircraft 
  • Activity that interrupts pedestrian traffic and/or restricts access to residential and business activity 
  • Activity that requires bus and transit re-route planning 
  • Permitted parking on City streets of no more than 12 blocks

General Film Activity:

  • No discernible interruption of pedestrian traffic 
  • No interruption of vehicular traffic 
  • No permitted parking on City streets 
  • No activity outlined above in low, medium, or high impact 

The film permit issued by Film New Orleans is a prerequisite for all other city permitting. Certain requests and activities may require permitting through city agencies other than Film New Orleans and may take longer to permit. This includes:

  • pyrotechnic effects
  • street closures
  • parking requests
  • filming in the historic French Quarter and Garden District 

What is Film New Orleans?

New Orleans Film Permits - Film Permit Image - Wrapbook
Obtaining a New Orleans film permit may be necessary if filming out in public.

Film New Orleans (FNO) operates under the Mayor's Office of Cultural Economy and works with the community and established neighborhood associations to accommodate productions doing business in the Crescent City. 

FNO issues permits for commercial film projects and works with city agencies to help your project go as planned on the days you shoot whether you need law enforcement, street closures, or other additional assistance. 

Do you need a permit to film in New Orleans?

It depends on your project. The City of New Orleans requires a film permit (also known as a film location permit) for any commercial filming in New Orleans.

How can you get your own New Orleans film permit?

You can get a New Orleans film permit in five steps:

1. Complete an application

Fill out the online permit application on Film Orleans’ website

2. Secure production insurance

Projects filming in the city of New Orleans require production insurance. Before you’re issued a permit, you’ll need to submit a Certificate of Insurance (COI) from your insurance broker to Film New Orleans by emailing cgmorton@nola.gov.

3. Submit signed guide

FNO requires the producer, location manager, and transportation coordinator to sign a copy of their Guide to Film Production in New Orleans and return it to FNO.

4. Provide location list

To help provide notice and secure specific locations, Film New Orleans requires a confirmed location list and shooting schedule no later than three business days before filming.

All low, medium, and high impact film projects may also need to take part in a City Hall production meeting. During the meeting, your location manager will present a production packet containing your location schedule and any no parking or street closure requests. They will also discuss community notification procedures with you after they assess the public impact of your production.

5. Distribute community notification fliers

Like a good neighbor, you’ll need to provide a heads up to anyone potentially affected by your project. 

Advance notification of the planned activity must be communicated through fliers distributed in the impacted area to inform residents and businesses of your activity. The fliers are the primary notification for residents and must be distributed 48 to 72 hours before your filmmaking activities. Distribution of the fliers in a “T” pattern must extend in all directions from the key location and those impacted by the parking footprint.

FNO requires productions to submit their leaflets for review prior to distribution. They’ll also be able to help with electronically distributing your fliers to the affected neighborhoods, businesses, and/or neighborhood associations.

Fliers can be on production letterhead or anonymous with a provided alias if you choose. All fliers must include the following information:

  • Production Identification (name or alias) 
  • Accurate date and times of filming 
  • Blocks affected by “no parking” restrictions including prep, film, and wrap days 
  • Description of filming activities including specifics regarding lights, noise, or special effects 
  • Local production office number, production cell, and/or location manager’s cell number 
  • Contact information for Film New Orleans

A sample flyer is available here.

How long is a New Orleans film permit good for?

New Orleans film permits cover the shoot dates you specify in your permit application. If your production schedule changes after you're approved, reach out to FNO as soon as possible.  

Do you need additional film permits for each location? 

Depending on your desired shoot location, you may need the stamp of approval outside FNO. For example, filming in the French Market District requires approval by both the French Market Corporation and the City of New Orleans. 

To help coordinate approval from any public entities, be sure to include an overall calendar for the duration of your shoot detailing the location(s) and physical address(es) for each day.

What are New Orleans' insurance requirements?

Before you can get a New Orleans film, you’ll need insurance that includes $1,000,000 general liability. The insurance requirements for New Orleans film permits also state you must name the City of New Orleans as additional insured. This is a standard rule for any production policy. 

If your project doesn’t require a film permit, you’ll still want to consider insurance for protection on locations and around equipment rentals. 

Reach out if you need help securing the right policy for your project.   

How long will it take to get a New Orleans film permit?

Think of getting a film permit like arriving at the airport early, you give yourself more time in case something comes up. 

While Film New Orleans doesn’t stipulate a deadline for applying, they recommend submitting your application as soon as you finalize your proposed shooting locations. If FNO determines your project requires a City Hall production meeting, your permit may be issued at the end of the meeting.  

Specific locations that need additional approval can take longer. For example, if you're looking to shoot in the French Market District, all shoots must be booked at least 15 days in advance before filming. 

How much do New Orleans film permits cost?

Good news — New Orleans film permits are free.

And you'll need this permit before you can acquire any additional permits through other city agencies. Keep in mind there may be costs associated with those permits and obtaining personnel such as traffic control and administration of street closures.e.

Wrapping Up

Obtaining a film permit from FNO is a win/win for producers. For your production team, you get a free film permit from the city. Any expenditures you make while there, the city can reinvest in the community and New Orleans continues to be a go-to location for producers.

By giving yourself time to get production insurance and the rest of your ducks in a row, you can make sure your production receives the green light from FNO.

In case you’re short listing potential locations for a project, be sure to check out our other guides on LA film permits, NYC film permits, and Chicago film permits

Last Updated 
January 27, 2021


At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
Phillip Paquette

Phillip Paquette is an Austin, TX-based storyteller and content strategist that's worked both on behalf of agencies and directly with brands. Catch his business musings on Medium.

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