‘Filming is going to increase regionally’: Here’s why La Jolla may see more and more film crews soon

A film crew works along Neptune Place in La Jolla on March 16 for a production starring Richard Dreyfuss.
(Preserve Windansea Beach Association)

Filming last week at Windansea of a production starring Richard Dreyfuss prompts an explanation from San Diego’s filming program manager of the city permit process, promotion and rules.


After a film crew surprised La Jollans last week with a one-day appearance at Windansea, a representative of San Diego’s Special Events & Filming Department said he will work to notify the wider La Jolla community about such events in the future.

The filming took place March 16 along Neptune Place at Nautilus Street for a production starring actor Richard Dreyfuss, filming program manager Guy Langman told the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board on March 21.

The crew requested two permits from the city: one from Special Events & Filming to film on Neptune and post film equipment there and another from the Parks & Recreation Department to film on the beach at Windansea.

The departments worked together on the request, Langman said, and sent notification letters to all affected residents to let them know about the film crew’s presence.

Windansea resident Suzanne Baracchini contacted Langman after the filming about potential safety hazards on the bluff where filming took place.

As people became aware of Dreyfuss’ presence, they started congregating at the beach “and by sunset it was pandemonium,” Baracchini said in an email to T&T Board members, city staff (including Langman) and the La Jolla Light. She said some people leaned on a broken fence above the bluff and film crew members sat on a bench on what she called an eroded bluff.

“The city is inviting more liability and risks more lawsuits from public injury,” she said.

“We should have had more security,” Langman said. “We most likely should have … reached out to this committee [to] make sure you’re aware of it.”

However, there often isn’t enough time to go before the T&T Board about such permits, Langman said. San Diego has a policy of four working days for a production company to obtain a permit for filming.

“It’s important to know that filming moves fast,” Langman said.

Guy Langman, filming program manager for the San Diego Special Events & Filming Department
Guy Langman, filming program manager for the San Diego Special Events & Filming Department, discusses the film permitting process with the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board on March 21 at the La Jolla/Riford Library.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The process moves quickly through permit approval to posting no-parking signs, which usually are needed to enable filming equipment to access a location or to maintain continuity if the film is set in a different time period or is using a location to double for another, Langman said.

Because of the speed of the process, some events that normally get T&T review (for road closures or no-parking zones) can’t go before the board, which meets monthly.

The Special Events & Filming Department will try to contact T&T in the future to at least inform the board members of such events, Langman said.

And they might be happening more, as both the city of San Diego and San Diego County have “been promoting San Diego and La Jolla as … filming [destinations]” to further the economic benefits of hotel stays, catering and more, Langman said.

“Filming is going to increase regionally,” he said. “Currently the city has no permit fees or application fees [for film projects]. This is the driving force of bringing filming to the area.”

If films need city services such as lifeguards, police officers or a street closure, or if filming takes place in a park, personnel or facilities fees will be involved, he said.

No permit or authorization is needed to film on private property.

There also is no limit on how many days a production can film, but if it is planned for more than five days, “there needs to be a bigger discussion about it,” Langman said.

“Currently the city has no permit fees or application fees [for film projects]. This is the driving force of bringing filming to the area.”

— Guy Langman, filming program manager for San Diego Special Events & Filming Department

Filming must end by 10 p.m., he said, unless 80 percent of neighbors in the affected area agree to a later time.

Filming requests get extra vetting for certain areas, such as schools and places with speed restrictions or narrow roads.

At Windansea Beach, no filming is allowed in or near the surf shack.

To prevent obstructing traffic, filming usually does not involve road closures, except for things such as a vehicle chase, prop weapons or pyrotechnics, Langman said.

What often happens, he said, is that vehicle and pedestrian traffic are “held for up to three minutes while they get their shot,” repeating several minutes later after traffic is allowed to flow.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board next meets at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 18, at the La Jolla/Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave. Email