Equipment Room Manual

Please read the following manual carefully. It will provide valuable assistance in accessing equipment for your production work. Please note that you are responsible for all the information in this manual.


The Equipment Room and its resources are a wonderful privilege. As a Cinema and Media Arts (hereafter referred to as "CMA") or Digital Journalism and Media (hereafter referred to as "DJAM") student you have access to thousands of exciting equipment items. The Production Center Staff desires to make our equipment as available as possible to you. To accomplish this goal, you, and every other member of our community, must exercise your privileges responsibly.

This policy statement is a contract that binds both Student and Production Center to terms. Before being allowed to use the Biola University Production Center equipment, you must sign the agreement found at that you have read and agreed to the terms herein. If you do not comply with the terms of this contract, penalties (including loss of studio and equipment privileges and/or financial responsibility for any damages) may apply.


The Equipment Room facilities exist for education of our majors by supporting the Snyder School of CMA/DJAM curriculum. On occasion, rentals are made to other Biola departments or outside entities. Equipment Room rentals generate funds to repair and update equipment and are used for other studio needs. Rentals of this nature are considered secondary and are permitted only when they are deemed not to interfere with primary educational purposes.

Equipment Checkout Access

If you are a CMA/DJAM student or a non-major taking a CMA/DJAM production course, you will need to complete the following steps to set up a check out account:

You will then be granted permission for free use of equipment to complete required projects for the CMA/DJAM production courses in which you are enrolled. All reservations for equipment must be placed through our Webcheckout portal. Note that ER student workers are NOT allowed to offer preferential treatment to fellow students and friends under any circumstance at the risk of reprimand and further action. Also, any Production Center equipment left in the studio unattended will result in a loss of two weeks of checkout privileges to the student on the checkout paperwork.

Greenlight Production Form

The Greenlight Production Form  is required of all student productions as a way of gathering general information about your project. There are 3 types of projects you will be able to choose from that each require unique information

    • Class Project
    • Learning Project
    • Biola film

Please be thorough with the answers you supply as this will be the fastest way to gain approval for your project

Reserving Equipment

Generally, equipment reservations are available on a first come, first serve basis. Reservations should be placed well in advance, especially if your project is large. Learning Projects are considered extracurricular and do not have the same priority as class projects.

Reservations can be made with the Webcheckout Patron Portal It is a good idea to ask for a copy of your reservation to confirm all details. You may make one modification to your reservation once placed. Please call our staff at x5464 on campus for modification questions.

Reservations are non-transferable. Also, Equipment cannot be transferred to another person without first returning it to the Equipment Room. Consecutive reservations to extend equipment use are NOT allowed.

The person who reserves equipment must pick up and the return the equipment. If you are not able to pick up and return your reserved equipment, please do not make a reservation. The ER will not checkout or return equipment unless the student on the checkout form is present.

On very rare occasions, equipment problems or scheduling problems may make it necessary to “bump” you from a previously reserved time. This rarely happens, but if it does please accept it gracefully. We will do everything we can to accommodate your schedule if you reserve in advance.

Advanced Equipment

Access to Production Center Advanced Equipment requires sophomore level classification and above, attendance at applicable in person or online training seminars (accessible through Canvas Course “Production Center Advanced Training”), a passing grade on the related advanced equipment quiz, and demonstration of advanced production skills. If you do not yet have access to our online Advanced Equipment Training offerings, please contact the Director of Studio Operations.

Learning Projects

The Production Center encourages students to work on extra-curricular projects to develop their production skills. Learning projects are considered a second tier usage of equipment and class projects will be given priority. Equipment used for projects other than a CMA/DJAM production class assignment (including class projects for other non-CMA/DJAM classes) must be approved in advance. To gain permission for extra-curricular projects, fill out a Greenlight Production Form and choose "Learning Project." Be specific about the exact facilities and equipment you need, the dates of the project and purpose of the project. In general, Learning Projects are approved if:

  1. There is reasonable educational purpose for the project,
  2. It will not interfere with other students completing assignments,
  3. There is no financial gain from the project.

Checking Equipment Out

Equipment for class projects can be reserved with the ER staff as far in advance as necessary during the semester. Equipment will only be checked out for class projects unless completed as an approved Learning Project. The ER staff person may ask to see your ID card to confirm your identity and may also check the class roster to confirm your enrollment in a class. You must sign and date the completed checkout form. You are financially responsible for the equipment that is checked out to you. In addition, checked out equipment may not be left in the Production Center unattended. Unattended equipment will result in a loss of 2 weeks of equipment checkout privileges.

Before you are allowed to check out equipment a signed Production Center Facilities and Equipment Use Agreement must be on file. By using resources from the Equipment Room, you agree to pay equipment loss and damage and late fees incurred as laid out below.

Late Equipment Fine

A late fee will be billed to you if a late fine is incurred for returning equipment after the due date and time. Failure to pick up reserved Equipment will also result in a late fee. The purpose of this fee is to provide an incentive to return equipment on time. Please see “Late Equipment Policy” below for additional details.

Late fines follow the sliding scale below:

Time After Due DatePenalty
1 day late$15
2 days late$30
3 days late$45
4 days late$60
5 days late$75
6 days lateIf student has not contacted the Production Center detailing extenuating circumstances, Campus Safety will be notified of missing equipment.
Loss and Damage Deductible - $750

Your Loss and Damage deductible is applied toward loss or damage of equipment when equipment is used according to the rules laid out in the Equipment Room Manual. This deposit will be used toward the cost of repairs if you return equipment that is damaged. You agree to be financially responsible for lost, stolen or damaged equipment in your care, as follows: (a) If you have exercised proper care and followed all rules and procedures in this Manual, you shall be liable for up to $750 for any loss or damage incurred. (b) If the loss or damage is the result of your failure to exercise proper care, your failure to follow the rules and procedures in this manual, or any intentional act on your part, you shall be liable for the full value of the loss or damage incurred. In either case, Biola University agrees to waive any right of subrogation by its insurance carrier against any student checking out equipment. If the loss or damage is deemed excessive and/or intentional, you may lose all access privileges.

The above fees will not be assessed unless there is an equipment infraction as denoted above. You will be notified by email of any ER infractions. This will give you a chance to respond, if you believe an error has been made, before you are required to pay.

Regular operating hours will be posted at the ER. Equipment orders will be ready at the arranged pickup time confirmed on your checkout email. Do not ask professors or staff to check equipment in or out for you. Do not ask ER employees to give you access when the ER is not open (unless approved off hours checkout has been granted). They are not permitted to do so. In this case, an “Off Hours Checkout“ request must be made through, and approved by, the Director of Studio Operations. See the “Off Hours” Checkout policy section for more information.

Be familiar with the proper operating procedures for any equipment you check out. Equipment must only be used for its intended purpose. We are happy to help if you need instruction with equipment if time permits. Be sure to locate the information you need to properly operate equipment.

Confirm that you have all the parts you need before you leave the ER. We recommend that you inspect the equipment. That way, you will discover any problems before it is too late.

Make sure you sign and date the checkout form. Signatures must be legible. It is a good habit to ask for a copy of your paperwork so that you can double-check everything and have a reference as you prepare to return your equipment.

Plan to pick up your equipment at your scheduled time. 

Equipment must be returned in the condition in which is was checked out. Cables must be properly wrapped, items boxed correctly and in the correct packages or the Equipment Room staff will ask you to step aside and repack your check in. It is a good practice to take a picture of your equipment properly packed before you remove it from its case for reference. If equipment is dirty or cosmetically damaged a $50 fee may be assessed for cleaning/restocking.

“Off Hours” Checkout Policy

Off hours checkouts at times other than normal ER operating hours may be arranged a minimum of seven days in advance. Off hours checkouts are usually reserved for advanced students and large projects. There is a surcharge of $40 for an off hours checkout. Off hours checkouts are also dependent on the schedules of Equipment Room staff.

Equipment Returns

Equipment is due at the time written on your checkout form. There is no grace period for late returns. Be aware of when your equipment is due to avoid unwanted late fines. Be advised that your arranged check-in time must be firm because many times the equipment you return will be checked out to another student immediately.

Late Equipment Policy
  • First late return will result in a late fee billed by email and payable on the Production Center Payment Portal. (See late fee scale for details)
  • Second late return will result in a 2-week restriction of equipment checkout.
  • Third late return will result in equipment checkout restriction for the remainder of the academic year.

Note: Failure to pickup reserved equipment will result in late fine.

Cleaning/Restocking Policy
  • If equipment is returned dirty, cables are not wrapped properly (over under method), or is otherwise disheveled, a warning will be given to return the equipment to acceptable condition.
  • To return the equipment to proper condition the student will need to step out of line, correct the condition of the equipment and wait in line once again.
  • If the above warning is disregarded, a $50 cleaning/restocking fee will be charged, and the checkout account will be disabled until the fee is paid.
Loss and Damage Policy
  • Normal wear and tear does not qualify as “Damage”
  • Students are financially responsible for lost, stolen or damaged equipment in their care, as follows: (a) If the student has exercised proper care and followed all rules and procedures in this Manual, the student shall be liable for up to $750 for any loss or damage incurred. (b) If the loss or damage is the result of the student's failure to exercise proper care, the student's failure to follow the rules and procedures in this Manual, or any intentional act on the student's part, the student shall be liable for the full value of the loss or damage incurred. In either case, Biola University agrees to waive any right of subrogation by its insurance carrier against any student checking out equipment.
  • The student will be notified of the damages and invoiced (by e-mail to their Biola University email address)
  • The student retains the right to pay fees by cash or check by the date on the emailed Loss and Damage invoice (made payable to Biola University)
  • The student also retains the right to purchase equipment of the exact make and model listed on the invoice, and transfer ownership of the aforementioned equipment to Biola as a means of payment.
  • If there is no response on the part of the student responsible, the amount owed will be turned over to Biola Accounting for collections.

Note that equipment restriction strikes apply for the remainder of the academic year. Also, failure to pick up reserved equipment without cancellation of reservation will result in a strike on the Late Equipment Policy above.

You must return your own equipment. Do not leave it with anyone else. If you are unable to personally check out and check in equipment, you should not plan to use the equipment at that time. Do not leave any equipment by any of the ER doors; this does not count as a proper “check in.”

If you underestimated the amount of time you need equipment, you may call or come by the ER during normal hours of operation (before the equipment is due) and ask for a renewal. If the equipment in question is not reserved, a renewal will be granted. If equipment is reserved, you must return the equipment on time. Only two renewals are granted for a checkout. 

Equipment must be returned in the proper place in its case. Ensure that you keep track of and return all parts. Small parts, like batteries, bulbs, microphones, meters, and cables, are easy to forget but can be expensive to replace.

Equipment Room Access

Access to the ER is only allowed during normal business hours. Under no circumstances do you have access to the ER at other times. If you find the door unlocked, or even open during normal business hours but no ER employee inside, you may not enter. Please notify Campus Safety. If you find that you have forgotten a vital piece of equipment and are tempted to break in after hours, do not! You will risk serious consequences. Do not ask Campus Safety, department administrative assistants, faculty, or other employees to give you access to the ER. Instead, plan ahead carefully so you can check out everything needed during normal ER hours.

If you are caught in the ER without authorization or are caught with equipment that was not officially checked out to you, the following penalties will apply:

  1. You will be reported to Campus Safety. It will be treated as trespassing and burglary (if applicable), and a police report will be filed. You may be arrested. This is a serious crime. Biola will press charges to the fullest extent possible. It is not considered “borrowing” to take equipment without checking it out properly. It is considered theft.
  2. In addition to any sanctions enacted through the criminal justice system and through Biola, you will lose, at minimum, all Production Center access privileges for the rest of the current semester and for all of the following semester. Depending on the infraction, you could lose access permanently.

Equipment Security

You are financially responsible for all equipment checked out in your name once it leaves the ER. When you are not using equipment, store it in a safe place. Your car is not a safe place. Student cars have been broken into and equipment has been stolen. The Production Center is open to many students 24 hours a day and is not a safe place to store equipment.

Beware of temperature-sensitive items, such as cameras, audio equipment, and meters in hot places. Tungsten lights and most grip equipment can stand heat just fine.

Take extreme caution at the beach. Sand and salt are enemies of cameras and other equipment.

Do not take equipment where it may become wet. If you drop a piece of equipment into water, especially salt water, it will almost certainly be ruined.

Do not take Biola equipment out of the United States without prior arrangement with the Director of Studio Operations and the Biola University Risk Management. Equipment is not covered by insurance if taken out of the country and you will be financially liable for all loss and damage.

Equipment Failures

Equipment failures are a normal part of production life, and they have a tendency to happen at the most inopportune times.

By way of advice, the most important thing you can do is to give yourself a little leeway and redundancy. Do not wait until the day before an assignment is due to begin work and you will give yourself time to recover in case of equipment failure. Plan ample time for your projects and give some extra “cushion” for equipment failure. Also, confirm that equipment is working before leaving the Equipment Room.

Here’s what to do in case of equipment failure:

  1. Check to make sure that the equipment is in fact not working correctly. In many cases, equipment malfunction reports are “user error.” Carefully go over the instructions. Also, the online manual for the piece of equipment is priceless in helping you troubleshoot many basic problems.
  2. If you are sure a piece of equipment does not function properly, notify the Director of Studio Operations, Engineering and Support Technician, or ER staff. Give as much detail as you can about what it did or did not do. If another piece of equipment is available, you may swap the non-working unit in the ER.

Under no circumstances are you allowed to repair a piece of equipment on your own. If the defective piece of equipment cannot be fixed or replaced in time, try to find a “work around” solution. For example, if the camera battery you checked out does not work, can you plug the camera into AC power? Can you get another camera from somewhere else? Being able to find alternate solutions to equipment failures is a great skill to have as a working professional.

Legal Issues

There are a number of legal issues of which you must be aware. Read the following section carefully.

Copyright Notice

All projects using any Biola University equipment, other than rental equipment, must have a Biola University copyright. We cannot legally and ethically provide free equipment for use on projects that receive monetary gain. In that case, you will need to rent equipment and facilities. Equipment and facilities rentals are handled through the Director of Studio Operations.

Financial Gain from Productions

Because Biola is a not-for-profit educational institution, persons who give gifts to Biola are allowed to deduct the gift from their taxable income. It is inappropriate for anyone to ask for donations to Biola (for which donors receive a tax deduction) and attempt to make a profit using the donations. In addition, under IRS law it is illegal for anyone to personally profit financially from using facilities and equipment belonging to a nonprofit organization unless they have paid a fair, market value rental fee for the use of the facilities. This means as long as you are using the facilities for educational purposes you are safe. If you attempt to use facilities or equipment for commercial purposes you are violating our non-profit status and have broken the law.

Students and faculty, are not allowed to produce commercial content using Biola’s equipment for free, and receive money as a result. Therefore, if you create content using Biola’s equipment or facilities without paying for its use, the content becomes the property of Biola and any money from its sale belongs to Biola. This can be as simple as checking out a camera to record a friend’s sporting event, or shooting wedding photography with compensation.

In order to demonstrate good faith with our non-profit status, all creative content made with free use of Biola equipment and facilities, must bear the copyright notice: “Copyright [year] Biola University.” Since you do not own the copyright, you may not make copies and sell them, put them on the Internet or distribute them in any way without permission from the Snyder School of CMA/DJAM of Biola University. You may make copies of projects for yourself for personal use, to use in a résumé reel and for other non-commercial aspects. Biola’s equipment insurance covers non-profit use only.

Equipment Rental

If you are being paid to do production work, even if the work is for a friend’s wedding or another department of Biola University, it is considered commercial work. You must pay rent for any equipment and facilities you use. We offer students and alumni attractive rental rates for equipment and facilities. Contact the Director of Studio Operations for rates, reservations and use policy. The Equipment Room does not handle equipment rentals or reservations for rentals.

When equipment is rented, Biola insurance no longer covers the equipment. Therefore, equipment will not be rented until the renter provides proof of insurance for the full retail value of the equipment being rented. Rentals must provide insurance for full replacement value of gear rented with Biola named as the “Loss Payee and Additional Insured.” Facilities rentals also require a liability policy. This insurance can be obtained through commercial insurance brokers. Contact the Director of Studio Operations for details.

Be aware that if you are going into the production business, and particularly if you plan to hire others to help you, there are many legal issues you need to consider, such as paying payroll taxes for your employees and having liability insurance.

Fund Raising

While Biola will provide free use of equipment and facilities for approved projects, we do not have the budget to pay other production costs. However, if you or someone you know is willing to give a gift to Biola to be used for your production, follow these steps:

Have your donor(s) write their check(s) to Biola University, and designate it “Biola Film Projects” or “Digital Journalism and Media.” Your name cannot appear on the “note” or “memo” line of the check. Donors should be friends or family. Do not solicit gifts from your place of internship. You can bring the donation check, or have your donor send it to either the CMA or the DJAM office, to make sure it gets credited correctly. Do not send it directly to Biola University Accounting. The donor will be sent a letter acknowledging his/her gift. However, a gift specifically designated toward a specific project or a specific person given by you or a family member does not qualify as a tax-deductible donation. Donations must be made generically to the School of CMA/DJAM Department.

All film project donations are deposited in the Biola Film Projects account, and all Digital Journalism and Media projects are deposited in the “Digital Journalism and Media" account. The School of CMA/DJAM will keep track of the money you raise and the amount you spend. Our records are the final authority on accounting. Reimbursements can be made against deposited funds one week after the deposit. This allows time to confirm that Biola has actually received the funds. (The check has cleared). If any money you raised is not spent by the time you graduate any balance will remain in the Biola Film Projects account to be used on other student film projects. If you spend more than you raised, you will only be reimbursed for the amount you raised and deposited. If additional expenses beyond the amount raised are charged to Biola, this amount will then be charged to your student account. Under no circumstances are you allowed to make Biola responsible for costs involved in a production. Please see the contract section.

If Biola receives a gift for expenses toward producing a student media or film project, the disbursement of that money will be subject to all of Biola’s accounting procedures, as required by law. That is, Biola cannot give you the money, even though you, your family or friends may have donated it. The donated money now belongs to Biola. You will only be reimbursed for reasonable expenses associated with your production. This means you will need to keep receipts for anything you spend and for which you wish to be reimbursed. If the reimbursement is for food, all who participated in the meal must be listed with Biola ID numbers if applicable. Both the itemized and charge receipt must be included. Before spending money on a project, it would be best to check with your advisor as to whether or not it is reimbursable. Remember that the project will belong to Biola. Biola will have distribution rights if you use Biola’s equipment for free or if Biola receives tax-deductible donations to help with it.

Of course, you are welcome to raise money entirely apart from Biola. However, the investors in your project would not be able to receive a tax deduction from Biola for the investment.


Although it is the policy of the School of CMA and DJAM that our students need not spend additional money (beyond Biola’s normal fees) to complete any course assignment, from time to time students may desire to borrow or rent equipment or facilities not available through Biola. In most cases, even if the rental fee is minimal or even entirely waived, the renting agency will still require that insurance be provided.

Understand that Biola cannot provide insurance coverage through our insurance carriers unless the equipment or facilities are rented or borrowed through Biola. That means that you cannot pay for a rental directly, then have Biola provide insurance. Even if Biola did provide insurance, our insurance would protect Biola—not you. If you rent or borrow equipment in your own name, you alone are responsible for it!

If you are proposing to rent equipment or facilities outside of Biola, list this information on the Greenlight Production Form. along with the price, dates, etc. Biola does not have funds to pay for this extra insurance. If your project is approved, you may contribute or raise money for the rental, insurance, etc. The donations will be placed into our “Biola Film Projects” or “Digital Journalism and Media Department” fund, and any money not spent on your project in a reasonable time will be used for other student projects. It usually takes at least three weeks to provide proof of insurance for equipment rental.

If you are raising funds to produce a non-class related independent film or Digital Journalism and Media project you will work under the guidance of the Snyder School of CMA or DJAM. Any funds raised for your project will be processed though the department overseeing your work. These departments will have discretionary authority over use of funds raised, under the ultimate authority of the University.

Many locations that you might wish to film (a city park, for example) will require proof of liability insurance. If the insurance required is not more than the coverage Biola already has, then there is only a charge for preparing a certificate proving insurance coverage.

Allow three weeks for the paperwork to be processed. See the CMA Production Coordinator in the CMA office to initiate the paperwork for the purchase order, the rental, and insurance. Do not contact Biola’s Risk Management directly.

Requirements for Media Production from the Risk Management Office

The following requirements are subject to being changed at any time by Risk Management.

  1. The use of Biola University’s insurance for media production is a privilege. The use of insurance increases Biola’s liability. Productions that incur excessive risk or liability will not be supported. Pyrotechnics are not allowed.
  2. All CMA/DJAM projects that require use of Biola University’s insurance (i.e. anytime you use equipment from the Equipment Room), a Greenlight Production Form must be filled out and approved. CMA/DJAM students are responsible for all insurance charges associated with the media production and must provide the Biola account to which related insurance costs will be charged; this will be provided to you after talking with the Cinema & Media Arts Production Coordinator. If Biola University insurance policies are used to insure the film’s activities and rentals, then Biola University must own the copyright and all distribution rights to the product.
  3. According to Employee Handbook Section 6.71, a student or staff person cannot sign contracts obligating Biola University. Contracts must be submitted to the CMA Production Coordinator one month prior to the start of the film project to provide adequate time for processing and approval. Occasionally, Biola needs to negotiate both contract and insurance requirements, which takes time. The Snyder School of CMA/DJAM should keep a copy of all items submitted, for their records.
  4. Providing proof of Liability Insurance to an organization involves obtaining an insurance certificate. Insurance certificates naming the other party as an additional insured cost $60 per certificate. (“Additional insured” means that the other entity is being added to our policy coverage). The certificate will name the other party for a one-month period, beginning with the first date their services or location is being used. If a film shoot is delayed (and Risk Management is notified) before the effective start date of a certificate, we can cancel the certificate without any charges. If Risk Management does not receive a cancellation notice prior to the effective date, the $60 will be charged. Information needed for a certificate includes the following: the name of the organization to be added, the full address including the ZIP code, phone and fax numbers, the contact person’s name, dates the insurance is needed, and the name of the media production. Please use the certificate request form to begin the process of requesting a certificate of insurance from Biola's Risk Management office.
  5. In addition, if the insurance certificate is needed for a rental agency, there will be an additional insurance charge of $1 per $100 of value of the rented item. For example, if an item valued at $5,000 is rented, it will cost an additional $50 to insure the item being used. This is in addition to the $60 additional insured charge. Charges may change without notice. If your film project is renting equipment, Risk Management will need to have the full replacement value information so that your rental is added to our policy. You must provide a written list of all equipment to be rented with the insurance value needed for each piece of equipment. The list must be on official stationery from the rental agency.
  6. One member of the project should be appointed as liaison with the Risk Management office to arrange for appropriate insurance coverage. Requests from any other person will not be accepted. This streamlines the approach and ensures that the changes are approved for the film project.
  7. Students are financially responsible for lost, stolen or damaged equipment in their care, as follows: (a) If the student has exercised proper care and followed all rules and procedures in this Manual, the student shall be liable for up to $750 for any loss or damage incurred. (b) If the loss or damage is the result of the student's failure to exercise proper care, the student's failure to follow the rules and procedures in this Manual, or any intentional act on the student's part, the student shall be liable for the full value of the loss or damage incurred. In either case, Biola University agrees to waive any right of subrogation by its insurance carrier against any student checking out equipment.

Use of Copyrighted Material

You may not use copyrighted material in any production without permission of the copyright holder. To do so is a violation of law. If you are caught, you could be subject to a lawsuit. Biola University will not knowingly allow anyone to use our facilities or equipment to produce material that violates copyright law.

No project will be accepted for course credit if it contains copyrighted material unless you have written permission from the copyright owner. No projects will be accepted into the Biola Film Festival if they violate copyright laws.

You are not allowed to store any copyrighted material without permission on Biola’s computer network.

You may be tempted to try to cheat on this rule thinking no one will ever know, and the project will only be shown in class. However, it is beneficial for you to obey this rule, because:

  • As a Christian you must obey the civil authorities, and copyright infringement is against the law.
  • Copyright is a real-world issue. You need to create within the legal structure.
  • Copyright violations cheat copyright owners out of income that is rightfully theirs. It’s stealing.
  • If you want to enter your project into a film festival or some other contest, you will not be able to do so if it contains copyrighted material.
  • If you get caught violating copyright law the copyright owner could sue you.
  • If Biola finds you have included copyrighted material in projects turned in for a grade, you will receive a failing grade for the project.

If you do use copyrighted material in any project, you must turn in paperwork that does the following:

  • List all items (such as music, graphics, pictures, etc.) included in the project that were not created by you. The list must include the name of the item, and the name and address (if possible) of the owner of the copyright.
  • Give the basis for its use, such as permission of copyright owner, Biola’s license, etc.
  • Provide a copy of a letter from the copyright owner granting permission to you to use the material in your film or video. The exception would be the use of public domain material, or copyrighted material for which Biola has already paid a license fee, such as our music libraries.

For background music or soundtracks, Biola subscribes to music libraries for which we have paid a license fee. You may use this library free of charge for any class project or other project owned by Biola. If you would like more information on music and SFX libraries available to you for student projects please visit our Services & Resources page. We are not licensed to allow you to use library music in productions that you personally own or those from which a profit is made.

Other music, such as music from streaming services, is copyrighted and may not be used without permission. You would usually need permission from the owner of the music and the lyrics (the writer or the publisher), the recording company, the recording artists, and the musician’s union.

As you can imagine, it is usually very cumbersome and expensive to get permission to use recorded music. You may use music which you personally own (because you wrote it and recorded it) or which a friend or acquaintance owns and gives you permission (in writing) to use. If you receive permission to use someone else’s music, be sure you get permission on paper. Turn in a copy of your permission letter with the assignment. For your convenience, a sample Music License Form is available in the Forms section of this site.

Also, do not use visual materials without permission. This includes copyrighted photographs, posters, paintings, advertisements, trademarks etc.

Do not adapt a copyrighted story for your script. You can use an idea or premise others have used, but the details need to be original. Things that are public knowledge (news happenings) are not copyrighted, but a particular viewpoint or telling of the story may be.

If you write a script for class, you own the copyright on the script, even if you don’t register it. That would be true about anything you write or create, unless you are creating it for pay as “work for hire.” In that case, the company who hires you owns the rights.

By allowing your script to be produced as a student project you are giving Biola University a license to use your copyrighted material. If you don’t want to allow Biola to use the material you wrote, do not permit it to be produced using Biola equipment or facilities. If you do permit its use, you are implicitly granting a license for its use, but you may make other use of it in the future. In other words, you are granting a non-exclusive license for the use of your work.


Do not use recognizable images of people without their permission. This violates privacy laws. You may record a large group of people in a public place (people in chapel or walking across campus, for example), but don’t use close ups of people without their permission in writing. All release forms must be turned in with the assignment.

You may record from public streets, sidewalks, parks, etc., without violating privacy laws as long as you do not record people close up. People give up some of their right to privacy by being in a public place. However, it is illegal to photograph on private property without permission. If you shoot on private property, be sure to get permission in writing.

A sample Film/Video Consent and Release Form is available in the Forms section of this site.

Public Location Permits

If you plan to record on public property (streets, parks, etc.) you will need a permit from the appropriate city or county agency. If you don’t have a permit, police may stop your project. For students, permits are often free. Fill out the paper work at the appropriate office a minimum of one week before you plan to shoot. If your project requires traffic control or police officers on duty for safety reasons, you will be required to hire them and pay for them.

Private residences do not need permits, but you must obtain a release form from the owner of the property. A sample Location Release Form is available in the Forms section of this site.

Libel and Defamation

It is against the law to publish or broadcast something about another person (or company) that is not true, especially if it defames their character. If you record or broadcast a story, you should have convincing evidence that it is true. You might have to defend yourself in court.

That means you have a responsibility to check your facts, especially if what you say would libel or defame someone. If a person is accused of doing something wrong (but not convicted) you should make sure you do not represent the accusation as being fact. You may say (if it is true) that the person is accused of the deed, or you can use the word “alleged” when referring to the misdeed.


Film, television and audio recording production can be hazardous if not done properly. You will need to form the habit of good safety practices.


Do not stand on the top or second step down. Do not reach so far from a ladder that the bulk of your weight is over the side. This could cause you to fall. Check the condition of the ladder before climbing. Do not climb rickety, shaky or broken ladders. If you find defective features of a ladder, tag with "Do Not Use" note and notify Production Center staff immediately. Wear rubber, not leather-soled shoes when climbing a ladder. Never attempt to climb a ladder in high-heel shoes. As a general practice, designate someone to hold the ladder securely for you.

When using an extension ladder, make sure the base of the ladder is on solid ground. Also, make sure the base cannot slide out. Aluminum ladders are excellent electrical conductors. Touching electrical lines with aluminum ladders could kill you.


Electric shock can kill you. Be very careful in using electricity. Always verify electrical equipment is grounded (except for battery operated equipment). If a piece of equipment has a grounding prong, it is to be plugged into an outlet that will accept it. Do not use ungrounded wiring.

Only a qualified electrician can “tie in” to a power system. Do not attempt this on your own. If done improperly, it is potentially lethal for you and anyone who touches any of the equipment connected.

If an extension cord is used, confirm that it also has a grounding prong. Inspect extension cords before using. If they are worn (especially if any bare wire shows) DO NOT USE THEM. Tie a knot in the cord at the trouble spot, and return it to the ER to be repaired or replaced. If you find an extension cord or piece of equipment with the grounding prong missing, do not use it. Return it for repair or replacement.

Water and electricity can be a deadly combination. Do not let electrical equipment get wet. If a piece of equipment gets wet, let it dry out thoroughly before trying to power it up. If you must work in a potentially hazardous environment (such as shooting near a swimming pool or other standing water), take extra precautions so that no one can come into contact with water and electrical equipment at the same time. If you are working near water or on damp soil (such as on grass), use an extension cord with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). This device senses a bad ground situation and cuts off power. If a light fixture or other electrical device falls into water, unplug the power cord before reaching for the device. If you are using lights or other electrical equipment outdoors and it looks like it may rain, unplug the equipment and quickly move it to shelter. If it actually starts raining, the most important thing is to quickly unplug all the equipment, then cover or move it.

When working with electrical equipment, ensure that you do not create a ground path through your body. For example, do not touch an electrical device with one hand and a water faucet with another. Do not touch a light (or anything else that is plugged in) if you are standing on the ground (or wet floor) with bare feet. Never touch two lights at the same time. When working with electricity wear rubber-soled shoes.

Remember, if you should come into contact with a live wire or faulty piece of equipment, you will get an unpleasant shock, but it won’t kill you unless some other part of your body is in contact with a ground. This ground could be a pipe, a grounded piece of equipment, damp soil, or many other things.

In case of a downed power line, the voltage is much higher. Even walking across ground near the wire can kill you. Stay entirely away. If a person is in contact with a downed power line do not attempt to move them or the wire. You will not help them and may kill yourself. Call 911.

In private residences the highest concentration of electrical power is in the kitchen and laundry room. Often the washer, dryer, garbage disposal, dishwasher, microwave, and refrigerator are on separate circuits. Use these outlets to power your lights. On the other hand, all bedrooms may be on one circuit. Consider what other equipment may be drawing power from the source when calculating total load. To calculate capacity, use the formula: Volts x Amps = Watts. Thus, a typical 15-amp circuit at 120 volts will support 1,850 watts of lights. Also, a 20-amp circuit can support 2,400 watts. It should be noted that most home circuit breakers will trip at 80% of total capacity. It is good practice to leave some room and not run the breaker to its total capacity. Don’t blow circuits by connecting too much lighting equipment.


Lights get very hot. Do not try to adjust barn doors or change bulbs with your bare hands. Use gloves. Always unplug a lamp before changing the bulb. Never put anything that will melt in contact with the hot parts of a light fixture. Usually, only the extreme ends of a barn door are cool enough to have gels attached. If you do suffer a burn, get cool (not cold) water on it as quickly as possible. For severe burns, seek medical attention as soon as possible.


The greatest danger from fire on a movie shoot is from lights. The most dangerous are small, open-faced lights, often used on location. They can easily set drapes and ceilings on fire. Do not put them near flammable material.


Never step on cables. Doing so will damage the wire inside of them. All cables (including microphone cables) should be laid out in an orderly fashion and taped down with gaffers tape or covered up with rubber mats if they must be in an area with traffic. This is particularly true when filming in a public area where you cannot control traffic. If tripping over your cable injures someone, you may be legally liable.

Moving Vehicles

Filmmakers are tempted to do really unwise things with vehicles to get a shot. Remember, the laws of physics, as well as traffic laws, apply to you. Do not ride or permit anyone to ride on a car’s hood (even if strapped down), or stand up in a moving convertible or lean out a car window, etc., to get a shot. Do not attempt to film cars driving dangerously, sliding sideways etc. Do not use lights or cameras mounted to the exterior of a moving car unless using proper equipment. Mounting camera equipment to a car often involves a required permit from the local authorities. These kinds of shots should only be done under very controlled conditions and by experienced stunt drivers. Shots like these may not be used in student films.

Traffic Control

You are not authorized to stop or interrupt traffic on public streets. If your project requires traffic control you will need to get a permit (from the city or county involved) and pay for police officers to control traffic.

Firearms and Knives

No guns, even fake or toy ones, are permitted on campus. Do not use real guns even off campus. Blanks can injure or even kill people. Do not bring switchblades, butterfly knives or other illegal and dangerous kinds of knives on campus. Do not attempt to use squibs to simulate gunfire.

If you are using fake guns and/or knives off campus, make sure that the situation is carefully controlled. For example, if you are using a fake gun on a public street, gang members or police officers using real guns may join the “fight.” If fake guns or knives are to be used in any public place (a street, for example) you must secure a permit from the county or city involved. This will usually involve considerable costs for traffic re-routing, security, notification of neighbors, and so on.

If you plan to use a fake gun indoors at a private residence, local authorities (such as the city police or county sheriff) must be notified in advance. This reduces the likelihood of trouble if a neighbor calls the police. The person to contact is the watch commander with time of day and location of shoot.

Fire, Explosions, Pyrotechnics, Fog Effects

Do not use explosives or smoke effects that require burning anything. Do not use flammable liquids or gas, such as gasoline or propane. Do not use any effect that requires open flames or the burning of any substance. Do not use explosions or other means to simulate explosions (such as compressed air), which cause things (such as rocks, dirt, dust, etc.) to fly through the air. All of these are potentially dangerous and require trained and licensed specialists. Biola does not allow the use of fog machines in the Production Center. Fog machines often set off the fire alarm system and cause false alarms for Campus Safety and the Fire Department. Students using any of these unsafe practices may have studio privileges revoked.


Do not film scenes that require breaking glass (even sugar glass or breakaway bottles), furniture, or other items that could be potentially dangerous.

Booms for Microphone or Camera

Be very careful when operating a boom that you don’t hit someone. Look around carefully to make sure that no one is in the path of the boom. If using a large boom, know that it cannot touch an overhead electrical wire; this is common cause of death in film and video production.

Falling Hazards

Do not use rigging to support people, or heavy objects (such as lights) over people’s heads. Always use safety chains on studio lights. Lighting stands and C-stands can do considerable damage if they fall over. Weight their bases well with sand bags so that they won’t fall. If you are using reflectors on a windy day, you will probably need to station a grip at each reflector. For lights, make sure the power cord comes straight down to the ground from the light and then lies flat on the ground. A cord making a diagonal from the light to the ground is likely to be tripped over and could pull the stand down.


Improper lifting can cause permanent back injury. If you are lifting a heavy object from the ground, squat beside it rather than bending over. Let your legs, not your back muscles, do most of the lifting. Get help lifting if needed so you will not risk back injury.


In case of a serious accident: If on campus, call 5111. If you are off campus, call 911. If in doubt, make the call. If an injured person may have neck or back injuries, do not attempt to move him or her unless it is absolutely necessary. If a person is bleeding heavily, apply pressure to the bleeding wound with a clean cloth (or the cleanest cloth you have). Your shirt will do if nothing cleaner is available.

Think through in advance what you will do in case of an accident. For example, know how to reach medical assistance, and have a charged cell phone with you.

Personal Security

Do not film in dangerous places, such as on busy streets, in known gang areas, and so on. Students should not walk alone late at night almost anywhere, including on campus. If filming in remote desert or wilderness areas, be aware of dangers such as getting lost, getting dehydrated, snake bites, being injured in a fall, turning an ankle, and so on. Make sure you are well prepared with a plan for any such dangers.