San Diego

About Special Events & Filming

The City of San Diego Special Events & Filming Department seeks to enhance the vitality, quality, and economic prosperity of San Diego through the support of special events and filming in San Diego. Within the Department there are two distinct programs; the Special Events Program and the Film Program. Both programs have dedicated staff that support the unique needs of each industry. Together, these programs serve to foster the role special events and filming play in San Diego.

Civic Engagement

Special Events & Filming Department team members are actively involved in the community and understand the significant role events and filming play in San Diego. Community festivals add to the spirit of our neighborhoods and provide an opportunity for residents, local artisans, performers, merchants, and City employees such as neighborhood police officers to interact with one another. Athletic and cultural events strategically located in key business districts provide marketing opportunities and bring new patrons to businesses. Events of national and international stature and seeing our neighborhoods on the silver screen create millions of dollars of economic impact, instill civic pride, and serve as long-term economic development tools for San Diego.

The Department is also responsible for the management of Balboa Park December Nights, one of the nation’s premier holiday festivals and San Diego’s largest free community festival. Each year, on the first Friday and Saturday of December, more than 300,000 people participate in San Diego favorite kick-off to the holiday season; celebrating the beauty, splendor and magic of Balboa Park.

Economic Development Initiatives

Working closely with visitor industry partners such as  the San Diego Tourism Authority, San Diego Tourism Marketing District, San Diego Convention Center Corporation, California Film Commission, and local film industry leaders, the Special Events & Filming Department is actively involved in seeking and submitting proposals to bring major events and film productions to San Diego. These events and productions bring hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact along with extensive worldwide media exposure to the San Diego region each year.

Major Event and Film Support Services

Once a major special event or film production is secured, the Department provides support services to key entities such as the event organizer, location scout, producer, or host committee, business, and residential community, as well as city departments to ensure the success of the activity. The scope of support services necessary to ensure success of these types of activities may range from the initiation of economic development, media and community outreach programs, to the establishment of protocols to ensure regulatory and public safety oversight.

Examples of such major national and international events and filming that have been, or will soon occur, in San Diego include the Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, Farmer’s Insurance Open, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, Comic-Con International, the Poinsettia and Holiday Bowl Games, U.S. Open Championship of Golf, Super Bowl XXXII, the FOX Entertainment’s scripted pilot, “Pitch,” “Hail Caesar!,” and numerous independent films, shorts, commercials, and print campaigns.

These events, and others, contribute significantly to San Diego’s economy through the generation of Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT), sales tax, and other direct and indirect spending.  Moreover, San Diego receives long-term branding and economic development benefits derived from the significant national and international media exposure brought to the region by these events and film productions.

Special Event Permitting

The Special Events Program spearheads the permit process for special events that take place on public property Through the Department’s permitting process, an event organizer can work with departments and divisions from more than forty City, County, State, Federal and other governmental agencies involved in the planning, permit review process, regulatory oversight, and on-site management of special events. For more information, visit our Special Events page

The Special Events Program also provides leadership the Special Events Management Team and serves as a conduit between event applicants and the dozens of City departments, divisions, programs and other public agencies that may have regulatory or public safety oversight of an event. The goal of the team is to provide a unified customer service experience for event organizers and the community, increase public safety at events, and reduce liability to the City of San Diego. 

Film Production Registration and Coordination

In 2016, with the support of the Mayor and City Council, the Special Events & Filming Department identified an immediate opportunity to provide resources to the film industry as a whole, while supporting the region’s skilled professionals and support services. By developing and implementing a comprehensive suite of online film program services, the City is able to to provide more resources for production and location services, incentives, and tools to attract filming productions to the San Diego region. Establishing a more robust film program and website will position San Diego at the forefront of the paradigm shift towards augmenting film office capabilities with online technologies.

Through the Film Program, productions can work closely with City staff to meet the unique needs associated with filming. For more information, visit our Filming page.