Video Production Crew in San Diego

A Basic Survival Guide to Booking Video Crew and Shooting On-Location in San Diego

San Diego represents the south-westernmost county in the 48 contiguous United States. The City of San Diego is its county seat and by far the largest city in the county. According to the census of 2010, San Diego County had a population of 3,095,313 people, making it the second most populous county in California, following Los Angeles County. It has 70 miles (110 km) of coastline. There are also 16 naval and military installations of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard. From north to south, San Diego County extends from the southern borders of Orange County and Riverside County to the Mexico–United States border and Baja California. From west to east, San Diego stretches from the Pacific Ocean to its county boundary with Imperial County.

Because of San Diego’s size and governmental diversity, it helps to be armed with some advanced information before booking production crew, equipment and scheduling location shoots within county borders. Also, individual cities and other entities may have their own location filming requirements. We believe the information and links on this page can be of help even if you’re an old hand at shooting in the San Diego area.

Weather:

Most of San Diego has a mild Mediterranean to semiarid climate, though there are mountains that receive frost and snow in the wintertime. The “rainy season” usually runs from November through April. Also, very high or low temperature ranges and extreme winds can sometimes be a problem depending on region and the time of year. The deserts can be 90-100F in the daytime and 40-20F at night during the winter. Beaches and coastal regions are often foggy, overcast and drizzly in May and June. Santa Ana winds can stop an exterior shoot dead in it’s tracks but are very predictable well in advance. The phenomenon generally occurs in late spring or fall when air is forced down the mountain slopes out towards the Pacific coast. All this may sound like a weather nightmare but San Diego tends to have perfect weather the majority of the time. Just keep an eye on the weather predictions as you would anytime you plan to shoot exteriors.

Traffic:

Both the freeways and surface streets are subject to severe traffic congestion, especially during early morning and late afternoon rush hours. Depending on the time of day and driving conditions, getting the crew and equipment to locations can take much longer than the point-to-point distances normally would indicate. Realistic travel times are necessary in order to keep schedules on track. Pre-plan carefully, leave early and check the live traffic maps link to the right.

Permits:

Within the county’s borders, other entities and jurisdictions may exist, with separate requirements, fees and permits of their own. Individual cities, beaches, parks, federal lands, military installations and private property owners all may play a part in the puzzle. This can make getting legal permission to shoot at your chosen location(s) a long and trying process. You can often avoid hassles by enlisting a single agency who will act as your liaison between the various entities concerned. If you don’t want to do it yourself, we suggest contacting the San Diego Film Commission for expert help with navigating the permit process. There’s a handy link on the right side of this page.

Unions:

Whether your production is union or not, it may still be necessary to hire union sound, lighting and camera crew if a venue you wish to shoot at is union affiliated. Motion picture studios, broadcast networks, convention centers and theme parks, etc., may have specific requirements regarding the use of non-union technicians working on the premises. However, non-union crews are often allowed within guidelines. If you’re unsure about a possibly unionized location, it’s always safer to ask in advance than to encounter a problem at the last minute.

Feel free to contact us if you are planning a location shoot anywhere in the southern California area. Although we can’t always predict things like weather and local government, we’re always happy to discuss ways to avoid typical pitfalls and make your shoot as stress free and productive as possible.

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