A Guide to Filming and Photography on Campus
Georgia Tech’s 400-acre campus is an increasingly popular location for filming and photography. Since its big debut in The Internship in 2013, the campus has received location requests from a variety of sources ranging from major motion picture production companies, to student filmmakers, to everything in between. In 2019 alone, Tech received more than 100 filming and photography requests. As such, campus administrators work hard to balance being a good partner to Georgia’s film industry — while protecting Georgia Tech’s learning environment and appropriately promoting its research, economic development work, and reputation.
“We really try to accommodate all filming and photography requests that complement what we do as a teaching and research institution,” said Deborah L. Greene, campus use and film specialist, Office of Capital Planning and Space Management (CPSM). “However, the requests were coming from so many internal and external groups that it became clear that we needed a more consistent process for reviewing requests and permitting filming and photography in the least disruptive manner to the campus.”
So, the Filming and Photography on Campus Policy was created in 2016 to define the rules of engagement for photographers and videographers to film on campus.
Last year, the policy was reviewed and revised to help clarify certain aspects of it. In addition, basic “how to” guidelines were developed to help outline the process.
Greene adds that no two requests are the same, and there are many nuances to how each request is managed. However, the following filming and photography ground rules will help ensure greater consistency and compliance while facilitating the review and approval process.
To Whom Do the Policy and Rules Apply?
- The policy applies to any third-party entity, company, or organization (for profit and nonprofit) as well as to all members of the Georgia Tech community (students, faculty, staff, and affiliated organizations) using a third-party vendor to acquire film footage. Third-party vendors, with whom Georgia Tech has a contractual agreement to perform facilities design and construction work on campus, also need to follow the policy but may not be charged the application fee; this is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
- The policy also applies to students, faculty, and staff capturing their own footage for independent use or for school-/work-related activities. To protect their allowable intellectual property rights, students, faculty, and staff should complete a filming application so that the circumstances of the filming can be evaluated for applicable fees, related charges, and potential safety and security issues. The process is streamlined for film or photography projects initiated, managed, and implemented wholly by Georgia Tech campus communicators, their staff, or their designated staff or faculty representatives to film within the interior footprint of their college, school, or research areas.
- In addition, the policy applies to individuals who are not current students or employees, who wish to conduct incidental personal photography on campus (e.g., a Georgia Tech alumna taking wedding photos on Tech Lawn). While an application is required, the need for a location license agreement and proof of insurance will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
- In general, the policy does not apply to news organizations as defined by Institute Communications. However, news organizations are required to coordinate all on-campus visits with the Media Relations team. In addition, news outlets often request to produce documentaries on campus featuring Tech’s faculty and their research. These types of filming requests require completed filming applications and generally require proof of insurance and location agreements.
How Do I Submit an Application and Begin the Approval Process?
- A Filming and Photography Application must be completed in its entirety and submitted to email@example.com before filming or photography requests are reviewed.
- Written approval, generally through an executed license agreement, must be obtained prior to filming or photographing on campus. CPSM reviews and approves the proposed project from a logistics viewpoint (i.e., location and proposed dates) and then sends it to Institute Communications (IC) to review and approve. IC reviews the content from a brand reputation viewpoint, which requires a thorough understanding of the intent of the filming/photo shoot, questions to be asked (or script of scenes to be shot on campus), and distribution outlets. If the proposed filming or photo shoot are not in the Institute’s best interest, Georgia Tech reserves the right to decline the request.
- Georgia Tech is a state agency so, depending on the scope of the project, there may be additional compliance requirements to be met prior to gaining approval for filming or photographing on campus. These may include:
- Vetting international film crews with the Office of the General Counsel.
- Vetting intellectual property.
- Verifying that the requester has required insurance.
- Executing a Georgia Tech location license agreement. Georgia Tech employees are not permitted to sign any third-party agreement (i.e. confidentiality agreements, location license agreements) to film or photograph on campus. If agreements are required, they must be Georgia Tech agreements and must be reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel before filming or photographing on campus is approved.
- In addition, all requests for filming and photo shoots on Tech’s campus that involve the use of small unmanned aircraft systems (e.g., drones) must be submitted to and approved by the Georgia Tech Police Department.
Given the requirements and parties involved, sufficient time is needed to review requests and obtain necessary approvals. While smaller productions often require a minimum of 10 business days, major motion pictures, television episodes, and some advertising commercials require a minimum of six weeks. Staff in CPSM and IC will determine time requirements on a case-by-case basis within these parameters.
For more information on filming and photography on campus, including guidelines and FAQs, visit space.gatech.edu/films-and-photo-shoots. Questions about the Filming and Photography Policy, including how it applies to your project, may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.