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Best Locations to Film in New York City

Top Locations to Film in New York City

New York City has been the shooting location of hundreds of iconic movie locations. We’re here to help you find the best locations to film in New York City. The City presents a tableau rich in diversity and is sure to offer the perfect backdrop for your video production.

Professional Location Scouting Tips

Understanding the basics of scouting for outdoor shoots is critical to selecting the best location for your production. Knowing how to work with the light of your location, plan for your shoot, and compare potential sites will get you on your way to a great location selection. Here are some tips form the professionals. 

Before any cameras come out, you’ll need to evaluate your location, looking at the lighting, space, and any other special requirements. You’ll probably look at several locations, so be sure to document your observations for consideration later carefully. 

  • Working with your story

Much of your site selection process will be driven by the story you are telling. Your script may call for a particular location, such as Times Square. From there, you’ll use good location scouting basics to narrow down exactly where, when, and how you’ll shoot. On the other hand, if your script calls for a gritty scene backdrop, there are plenty of those in NYC!. And you’ll have much more choice to work around lighting, traffic and other considerations. Your interpretation of “gritty” or “chic” may be unique to you. Be sure your production company is on the same page as you by talking this through, perhaps even creating a mood board.

  • Working with Light

Light is always one of the most critical elements of a shot, regardless of your subject or content. After all, video is a visual medium. Proper use of light can make your project a winner. 

Many pros prefer the summer for the longer days of light. A rule of thumb is that early in the day and closer to sunset, you’ll get the best light. The backgrounds can better be showcased during these times. 

Mid-day provides the strongest light, and it can be harsh. This is a time for your tighter shots. Later in the day, the light can cast a lovely, warm color on your subjects. Be super aware of the light and make it work for you. When scouting, document the light with still images at various times of day, such as early morning, noon, twilight, and sundown. The photos will help your recollection later as you select your location. 

  • Working with distractions

When scouting, be sure to listen as well as you look! Listen for ambient noise like passing trains, traffic, overhead flights, or a crashing ocean. These change dramatically throughout the day and from weekday to weekend. Ask around about other special considerations you may not have considered. These won’t necessarily rule out the location – you may even decide to incorporate these idiosyncrasies into your project to add layers and interest. 

  • Document your scouting trips and results 

You’ll need to carefully document the aesthetics of the site as well as the logistics. For each potential site, you’ll want the pictures, notes on sound, and special considerations, as noted above. You should also consider accessibility, permitting parking, space for your crew and cast, security, and the best directions to reach the location. All of this should enter into your decision process. Some additional things to consider are pedestrians, winds, buildings, or trees that block light, restrooms, workspace for makeup artists, and artwork that may be protected. 

  • Get permission, insurance, and permits!

Your production company will handle this for you but confirm that this base is covered, proper release forms and city permits are in place, and any insurance policy that may be required. 

Iconic Film Locations in New York City

Scouting New York City – Finding the perfect location if the City is part of your production. 


The Big Apple isn’t called “the city that never sleeps” for anything! 

It is a videographer’s heaven with its amazing skylines, tons of iconic locations, and diverse street scenes. If you want your video production to scream “New York City,” here are some of the top spots to check out.

  • The Brooklyn Bridge 

The Brooklyn Bridge, which connects Manhattan and Brooklyn, is perhaps one of the most iconic and identifiable locations in New York City. Its pedestrian walkway provides fantastic panoramic shots of the City, including significant New York buildings like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. Give some thought to winter temps from the bridge and remember that it is a suspension bridge, so the vibration is continuous. 

  • Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station is a familiar location worldwide. Abuzz with people and activity, it provides incredible street photography and great shots of the gorgeous architecture of the building. The possibilities are endless.

  • Atlas at Rockefeller Center  

Any 30 Rock fan has seen the statue of Atlas carrying the heavens that graces the front of Rockefeller Centre. Basking in the light of surrounding buildings, it makes for fantastic night imagery and communicates a sense of place to viewers worldwide. 

  • Times Square 

Times Square trumps all locations when it comes to street photography and lots of local and tourist activity. Take it wide viewing Times Square from above in the R Lounge of Renaissance Times Square or focus on the ground level and the bustling and hustling activity. 

  • Central Park

Thinking of something outdoors and more natural? Central Park offers dozens, if not hundreds of photo ops, ranging from the Bethesda Fountains and Terrace, Strawberry Fields and the “Imagine” mosaic, to the many arches that populate the park, to the people watching mecca of The Mall. For a peaceful spot in the park, visit the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. The possibilities are endless

Looking for something less identifiable?

New York City, comprising the five boroughs, is sure to have the perfect location for your masterpiece. A good New York Video Production company will know exactly where the best place is to bring your video story to life. They will have the connections to find, permit, and shoot the locations best suited to be cast in your video.

  • Old school New York street scenes

There are plenty of places that offer quieter and less commercial side streets from Soho to Brooklyn. Soho, short for South of Houston features intricate cast-iron architecture from the late 19th century and its unique cobblestone streets paved with Belgian blocks, A nice touch! Soho is a top shopping area and popular tourist attraction but still offers quieter areas once you’re off-Broadway. 

  • Just the right local restaurant

Union Square is still a hub for shopping, dining, and people watching. It’s a convenient connection spot for travelers and has an excellent park for filming and provides easy access to some great neighborhoods. Pop into the Flatiron District, Greenwich Village or Gramercy and pick your shot. You’ll also be at the gateway to lots of charming neighborhoods and parks. You may recognize the site of Citizen Kane. 

  • Want to channel a fashionable and trendy vibe?

Tribeca’s neighborhood is home to an affluent population and has trendy shops and restaurants to prove it. It is still a filming favorite, but you can stake out your unique location. Tribeca is home to the Tribeca Film Festival and the famous site of the filming of Ghostbusters. 

  • Let the cultural diversity of the City step forward.

Chinatown, with the largest population of Chinese people in the Western hemisphere, is located in Manhattan. It borders another cultural mecca, Little Italy. It’s home to close to 100,000 Chinese residents and is beloved by tourists and locals alike. This amazing filming location is home to grocers, street vendors, and restaurants that will make you forget you are in America! Us it to create the vibe of Chine or to capture this unique New York City locale. 

  • Want to put diversity front and center?

Don’t overlook the rich cultural and architectural experience that is Harlem. Located in northern Manhattan, it is a nexus of both African- American culture and Latin American population. Many landmarks such as the Cotton Club, the Apollo Theater, and Sylvia’s Soul Food stand as a testament to the achievements of African-American residents and led the way for the area to become very popular, and a contributor also to hip-hop. There are plenty of spots to inspire and bring your production alive.

  • Are you feeling tony?

The villages and hamlets of Southhampton and East Hampton on Long Island have long been recognized as the weekend seaside home of wealthy New Yorkers. It’s the stunning countryside, and waterfront vistas offer many opportunities to strike just the right chord with your production. 

  • Up and coming

Brooklyn is gaining attention as an excellent hub for artists and professionals. It has many neighborhoods and offers incredible diversity for video production in terms of the may locations within one single borough. Find a great industrial vibe in the Brooklyn Navy Yards or beautiful brownstones in Cobble Hill. 

Working with location scouts in New York City

A good New York video production company will take care of planning out your scouting and will recommend locations that best work to bring your story and project to light. They will work with location scouting agencies or directly with representatives of the location itself. They will arrange for site inspections, licenses, insurance requirements, and anything else necessary for your shoot. 

A location scout agency is a listing site that manages bookings and inspections for a variety of locations. Their listing will range from industrial buildings, farms, mansions, tenements, beach houses, restaurants, a public library, and everything in between.

Many now make use of digital materials and often offer a full preview of a location for your preview before visiting. Relationships are essential in filmmaking, and a good video production company like C&I Studios will know who to call and how much to pay! 

An update on the status of film production in New York City

Filmmaking has been impacted like all other industries across the world. NewYork City has been closed to filming for some months. In July, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that film and video production in the City could resume subject to two requirements. Production at production or recording studios, on location or on set can resume with the following provisions: Producers much present documentation of plan for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and must comply with the requirements of Media Production Guidelines established by the state in June. 

The state requirements are comprehensive and address crew and cast testing training, provision of proper hygiene, care of props and wardrobe, and food and beverage on set. Rules require masks at all times, the social distancing of six feet except when needed, such as makeup or performing, and following all Department of Health guidelines. Washing stations, sanitizer dispensers, and frequent and thorough cleaning of all areas being used are required. 

Props and wardrobe are cleaned and disinfected between each use and sealed in containers when not in use. Live audiences are prohibited, and non-essential personnel such as visitors are not allowed onto the set. 

Working with an established and reputable production company will ensure that all safety standards are maintained, licensing and permitting guidelines are adhered to, and all details are covered. 

Work with the best!

When you’re ready to create your video masterpiece, work with a New York production company that can find you the best location to film in New York City. They’ll take care of all of the details for you from conception to final edits and make the perfect video to tell your story.

 Give us a call at C&I Studios to discuss how we can help bring your project alive. (954) 357-3934

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