Film Permit Guidelines

Film Permit Ordinance

The Film Permit Ordinance (adopted March 2, 2009) sets forth rules and regulations to allow individuals and production companies to:
  • Film in the City without unreasonably impacting the peace and comfort of our residents
  • To assure that such activities protect the public's health, safety, and welfare
  • To ensure the protection of property
Professional filmmakers must complete and file a film permit with a minimum of 14 days notice (see link on left navigation bar) and get approval from the City through the Sterling Heights Film Office, a division of the Community Relations Department, prior to filming in public spaces or outdoors on private property. The Film Permit form must be signed and accompanied by a $25 processing fee along with the required fees and backup materials before it will be processed.

It is unlawful for any person to engage in the business or activity of filming at any place within the City, other than at or in an established motion picture or television studio or entirely within an enclosed structure or building (with no outside storage of filming equipment) without a film permit from the City. Any person interested in filming within the City shall complete in full a film permit application that shall be submitted to the Film Office of the City of Sterling Heights. A film permit does not constitute or grant permission to use or occupy property not owned, leased, or controlled by the City.

Exceptions to the Permit

This ordinance and film permit does not apply to:
  1. The creation of a personal film
  2. The creation of news media
  3. The filming or video recording of motion pictures for use in a criminal investigation, civil proceeding, or emergencies such as fires, floods, or police actions
  4. The filming or video recording of motion pictures and activities associated therewith which occur upon property that is owned or leased for more than 6 months by the enterprise or individual conducting the filming or video recording and none of the activities are open to view by the general public (however, this exemption shall not be construed to authorize the use of residential properties for commercial enterprises that violate any laws, the City code, or the City's zoning ordinance)
  5. Education, government, and public access and local origination programs for cable television systems franchised within the City
  6. The filming or video recording of motion pictures by the City, including, but not limited to, video recording of a sewer line or preparation of promotional videos
  7. The filming of competitive athletic events, parades, or other similar events of a public nature, when in attendance as a member of the public and a spectator
  8. The creation of a student film, unless the filming activities utilize or adversely impact public ways or are conducted outdoors in residential areas
  9. Local commercials (video or still photography) produced entirely on private property for purposes of advertising local businesses and merchants, so long as the equipment, personnel, and subject connected with the commercials do not interfere in any way with the public right-of-way or impact neighboring private property
  10. Still photographers, who are photographing in a public area, and who do not encroach upon the public right-of-way with equipment or personnel
  11. Films produced entirely for training of employees or personnel that are produced within the employer's property and do not utilize or adversely impact any public ways and are not produced outdoors in residential areas