Lights, Camera, Action! Hollywood Turns to GSA for Film Locations

Every year, GSA courthouses, federal office buildings, land ports of entry, laboratories, national monuments, and post offices are featured in major motion pictures. The film industry turns to GSA and its Center for Historic Buildings when it wants to use GSA buildings or historic grounds for filming movies, commercials, television series and documentaries.

GSA manages thousands of federal properties across the United States and its territories. From stately Greek revival monuments such as the U.S. Custom House in New Bedford, Mass., to bold modern masterpieces such as the Everett M. Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago. GSA’s buildings reflect 200 years of architectural design excellence.

GSA’s Center for Historic Buildings has developed a nationwide program to encourage the use of its historic properties in film and television productions. The goal is to showcase and support the nation’s building legacy by creating opportunities for the public to experience these buildings and their settings through film.

Just as importantly, location fees collected are reinvested in the historic inventory to keep historic federal buildings occupied, in good repair and economically viable.

If a studio wants to film in one of GSA’s historic buildings, they negotiate a filming agreement with the government. The production company submits a proposal of the location to the regional historic preservation officer responsible for the state in which the filming is to take place. Once the proposal has been accepted, a Public Buildings Service representative arranges the necessary licenses, scheduling and fee payment.

Filming in a modern GSA building requires a similar process, except without the regional historic preservation officer approval.

So, the next time you hear, “Lights, camera, action!” remember, GSA has a Hollywood connection.

Explore GSA buildings by Architectural Style

Ariel Rios Building

The Ariel Rios Federal Building in Washington was frequently shown in "The West Wing"  television series (1999-2006).

Dyer Federal Building

This courtyard is in the David W. Dyer Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Miami featured in "Absence of Malice" (1981). 

Hamilton Court House

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York is featured in "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days" (2003) and "Black Swan" (2010).

Wisdom Court of Appeals

The John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans is featured in "JFK" (1991).

San Francisco Custom House

The U.S. Custom House in San Francisco is featured in "Boys and Girls" (2000).

Powell Court House

The Lewis F. Powell Courthouse in Richmond, Virginia, is featured in "The Contender" (1999).

Baltimore Custom House

The Call Room within the U.S. Custom House in Baltimore is featured in "Head of State" (2003) and "Live Free or Die Hard'"(2007).

Chicago Federal Center

The Chicago Federal Center in Chicago is featured in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (1986).


Last Reviewed 2011-02-08