School of Cinema Policies

Safety Guidelines

The School of Cinema takes safety in student productions very seriously. Students engaged in a rehearsal or filming activity must adhere to the Safety Guidelines & Directives outlined.

Students enrolled in any production courses that allow access to School gear or use of the Sound Stage are required to attend a Production Training at least once per year. Please consult with your instructor or the Cinema Production Coordinator for more information.

Please note that the following activities are excluded from insurance by San Francisco State University Risk Management: stunts; athletic activities; pyrotechnics; aircrafts, helicopters, boats, automobiles, motorbikes, snowmobiles, ATVs, any other mobile equipment; race tracks, race courses; weapons, guns (real or fake), blanks, squibs; animals; unprotected or open heights above 15 feet; live music concerts; activities outside the U.S. or Canada; employees supplied to or from an employee leasing operation; entering into co‐production arrangements. If you have questions, please consult with your instructor.

  1. Use common sense. Do not take risks or put people in harm’s way. This includes use of weapons; portrayals of violence; and other potentially dangerous situations, such as driving, heights, fire, chase scenes, stunts, etc.
  2. Consult with your instructor about reasonable, safe alternatives for portraying these activities. All students working on productions with safety risks must meet with the Production Coordinator before shoots.
  3. Create illusions to avoid safety risks. For example, use green screen effects; shoot “heights” at a low angle near the ground; portray violence with off-screen sound, etc.
  4. Be mindful that prop weapons can still cause serious or life-threatening injuries and be mistaken for real weapons. Any students using prop weapons must inform the relevant local law enforcement, including the SF State Police Department or San Francisco Police Department.
  5. Note that incorporating weapons and/or depicting of violence and/or incorporating safety hazards means your shoot will not be covered by equipment or liability insurances. This is highly discouraged.
  6. Some of the activities prohibited in the document might be allowable (e.g., smoking, drinking alcohol) in the context of making a documentary film so long as they do not violate any laws. We strongly advise that you consult with your instructor prior to any shoot. Please be aware that restrictions pertaining to insurance coverage apply to documentary shoots.

On-Set Directives

  1. In pre-production and at the beginning of every shoot day, you must hold a safety planning meeting with your crew.
  2. A first aid kit must be available on-set.
  3. Heavy equipment, such as lights and c-stands, should be sandbagged, safety chained, and locked down. Cables should be kept neat and/or taped down.
  4. All exits and doorways must remain free and clear at all times. Nothing may block exits and passageways, including c-stands and light stands.
  5. Proper attire is essential for all working crew members. Open-toed shoes, such as flip flops or sandals, are not allowed. When adjusting a light source, work gloves are required.
  6. When using a ladder, another person on the floor/ground must always spot (hold) the ladder.
  7. Lights may never be hung over water. Cameras are not allowed in water or close enough to water to fall into. Do not use electrically powered (110-volt plug-in) lights in rain, standing water, or near any water that a light could touch or fall into.
  8. Fire and pyrotechnics are not allowed. Use of a very small fire, such as a single candle or match, require permission from your instructor. Note that hazard prevention measures, such as water, blankets, and a fire extinguisher, must be readily available on-set. 


  1. Real weapons are not allowed without exception. Weapons include any implement used to injure, inflict harm, or kill – including (but not limited to) any form of firearm, knife, sword, axe, or bomb.
  2. Any object normally not intended for inflicting harm may not be used to simulate violence—for instance, a rock, chair, vase, shovel, eating/kitchen utensil, rope, scissors, etc.
  3. Prop weapons require instructor approval.
  4. Prop firearms must not be capable of firing. Blanks are not allowed.
  5. You must notify local authorities, including police departments, fire departments, security, park rangers, etc., if using prop weapons in any public space. Note that windows, even in a private residence, constitute a “public” space as observers may be alarmed and notify authorities, or attempt to intervene with their own weapon.

Stunts / Physical Contact

  1. Rough physical contact, fighting, combat martial arts, and/or dangerous physical stunts are not allowed. If fighting or rough physical contact is simulated only, it must be approved by your instructor and choreographed and rehearsed.
  2. Any use of rope, tape, zip-tie, or handcuffs as actual restraints is not allowed. This includes restraints to breathing such as gags, ropes around the throat, or plastic bags over an actor’s head. Any depiction of restraint requires instructor approval and must be entirely simulated.
  3. Actors are not allowed to actually drive vehicles during shooting. The vehicle must be towed by a van or truck driven by a licensed driver. Note that filming inside a vehicle in public spaces normally requires a permit.
  4. You may not drive a vehicle towards an actor, crew person, or equipment (including a camera).
  5. Actors depicted smoking, drinking, or taking illicit substances must always use non-harmful prop substances as stand-ins. For any depiction of cigarettes, commercial herbal cigarettes must be used and the area must be well ventilated or outside. Depictions of alcohol must use non-alcoholic liquid.


  1. You may not shoot on a road for moving traffic/vehicles unless you receive permission to properly block traffic from authorities.
  2. Shooting is not allowed at locations that are dangerous, structurally unsound, or subject to extreme weather conditions. Examples potentially include abandoned buildings, warehouses, or factories; trash dumps; construction areas; or other similar hazardous locations.
  3. Water immersion scenes are not allowed without explicit permission from your instructor. This includes depictions of swimming or filming within any body of water (lake, river, creek, ocean, pond, swimming pool, etc.). Depictions of showering or bathing require instructor approval.
  4. Scenes shot at high altitude drop-offs (cliffs, building edges) are not allowed. Any scenes taking place on rooftops, balconies, bridges, fire escapes or any such elevated property are not allowed, unless the elevated property has 42-inch or higher safety railings and is used as an approved pedestrian area.
  5. Filming inside subways, on subway platforms, buses, trains, or other forms of public transportation require explicit permission from the proper authorities
  6. If you plan to record media at a live event, such as a music performance, demonstration, or protest, you must gain approval from the proper authorities. If there is the possibility of illegal activity at any event, you must scrupulously avoid participating in, assisting, directing, or controlling in any way the activity in question. It is important to note that SF State does not provide legal counsel for students arrested in connection with media projects.

The School of Cinema's Statement on Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Plagiarism and other violations of academic integrity (e.g., cheating on an exam, inappropriate or uncredited use of AI Generators) is a serious offense that is not treated lightly in the School of Cinema. Plagiarism of creative work will be treated with the same gravity as plagiarism of academic work. Ultimately the treatment of all cases of plagiarism and violations of academic integrity are left to the individual discretion of the instructor. The School of Cinema reserves the right to refer any case of verifiable or suspected plagiarism, or any other violation of academic integrity, to the Office of Student Conduct.

See more on plagiarism. 

Standard Practice for Instructors

  1. In all cases of suspected or verifiable plagiarism or violations of academic integrity, the course of action always falls under the individual instructor's discretion.

    • In keeping with SF State policy, an instructor:

      • Cannot fail a student in the course for plagiarism.
      • The instructor, however, can give no points/credit for the assignment (i.e., they can fail the class for not completing all the required coursework).
      • No mark in the course or the assignment can be “punitive,” rather all marks should be reflective of the student's work.
  2. All possible efforts should be made to communicate with the student directly. If for whatever reason you cannot contact the student (e.g., the student is habitually absent), or do not wish to communicate with the student yourself, refer the case to the Director of the School of Cinema.
  3. Faculty members (and lecturers) who discover violations of academic integrity should not circulate this information via email, however, it might be advisable that such information should be discussed during faculty meetings.
  4. Keep records — to the extent it is possible — of the violations. Create a dossier. Retain copies of the student's work and the plagiarized source (e.g., the webpage, ChatGPT).
  5. Refer cases of plagiarism to the Office of Student Conduct.
  6. It is recommended that all instructors make an explicit policy about what uses of AI are acceptable in their class on their syllabus.

Revised and adopted on 04/25/24