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10 Tips for Shooting Video in San Jose

Posted by Montanna Mellion on July 28, 2015

San Jose, California – also known as the Capital of the Silicon Valley – is the largest city within the Bay Area and Northern California and is rich with opportunities for filming. These opportunities are due to the booming local high tech industry that led to the cities famous nick name. Its diversity of locations, beautiful venues, and architecture make it a fantastic location to shoot video. So before you head out to sunny San Jose- check out these tips for shooting on location:

10 – Everyone loves to hear one little word: “Free”! There are several free filming locations in San Jose including City National Civic, California Theatre, Montgomery Theater, and The Center for Performing Arts. The full list of free locations can be found at http://www.sanjose.org/content/general-film-information

9 – Lights, camera, green screen! Get ready for green screen. High tech firms in the Silicon Valley and San Jose area frequently do on-site green screen interviews with executives. Often, these firms have their own small studios and need your shooting expertise. “A piece of advice,” says Crews Control represented DP Karl Van Amburg, “Bring plenty of lighting (at least 5 balanced Kino style lights for the screen and talent), and be prepared with your own setup when theirs goes down, is substandard, or the space is cramped – which is often the case.”

8 – Ah the joys of traffic! Before beginning your shoot in San Jose, it is best that you know your freeways and traffic patterns. The traffic can be extremely difficult in San Jose. Yes, this is true for most major metro areas, but the patterns are especially complex in the South Bay and Silicon Valley. Avoid Highway 85 and the 101 anywhere near morning or evening rush. A little P.S. tip from our DP Vicky Sullivan: “Monday and Tuesday traffic is usually lighter than Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.”

7 – Many of the companies you may be shooting with in San Jose are high tech. High tech usually means high security, both at arrival and during your shooting day. This means that a lot of special passes are going to need to be prepared beforehand. Be sure to have the on-site producer or coordinator have those ready to avoid long tie ups in the lobby. It can also be helpful to make sure they know you are a small film crew, not the press or a “contractor” –which often requires much more time, background checking, and hassles onsite.

6 – It is always helpful to make sure you check out the union requirement. Although nowhere near as unionized as San Francisco, shooting in San Jose can require coordination and use of the local union reps and crew members, especially if the shoot is in a government or public building, city owned event venue and so forth. This is usually not a problem in private corporate offices and facilities like EMC, Facebook, Google, etc.

5 – The San Jose area boasts a diversity of locations available for you to shoot b-roll. In San Jose you can find a beautiful skyline, view of the bay area, a small US town in the early 1900’s, a local zoo, an urban downtown, ranches, wineries, lakes, parks, or forest terrain. There is a spectacular background for all of your filming needs.

4 – San Jose is in the flight path of several large and small airports. Be prepared for a lot of start and stop during interviews. One positive aspect of this is that the San Jose airport is only 1 mile from downtown on the southern end of Silicon Valley, which means easy access to freeways for travel to nearby cities.

3 – Parking in downtown San Jose is not as difficult as most big cities but there are spots where parking is not as easy. It can be helpful to check the parking situation when you set the shoot. Depending on your location, it would be helpful to bring plenty of quarters for meters and definitely check with your client to see where your crew can park and load.

2 – San Jose has an absolutely stunning downtown, but if you are looking for b-roll of the city there is not a great location to capture that beautiful downtown scene. Also, the area around Silicon Valley and San Jose is pretty flat with and covered with trees. A good overview shot of the area is pretty hard to find.

1 – Background noise! If shooting within a business – as is very common in San Jose – keep in mind that many of the larger companies have loud compressors on the roof of the building. There’s also the normal background noise of people coming and going, slamming doors, and lots of office chatter. Take this into considerations when you are booking rooms for your shoot!


San Jose is a bustling and beautiful metropolitan area with plenty of opportunities to film. If you need a crew in San Jose, we have only the best to help you out. Give us a call; let us know what you need through our easy quote form and we’ll match you with the perfect crew. Don’t forget, you can connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn!

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