Hello and thank you for your interesting question.
I will answer your question on the assumption that you would be
producing so-called 'adult' or 'XXX' films, of the sort produced by
Vivid and similar companies. These types of films are commonly called
'pornography' but they are nonetheless protected by the First
The answer is that you will usually need to apply for a film permit,
but the permitting agency cannot deny you a permit on account of the
content of your work.
The Nolo website offers a question-and-answer on the issue, although
their answer is rather vague:
Getting started in the adult entertainment business
(Please read their answer at the above site.)
In the Los Angeles region, film production permits are issued by the
Entertainment Industry Development Corp., which issues nearly 1,000
permits per month.
In the San Fernando Valley, "one out of five shoots was a porn film,
even though these productions cost just a fraction of a Hollywood
release, according to the Entertainment Industry Development Corp.,
which oversees the granting of film permits in the area."
So in the Los Angeles area, there's no problem getting a permit to
film this sort of material.
Again, you'll find that many localities will have a permit requirement
for any sort of movie making, but they cannot deny you a permit on the
basis of the content of your film. Of course you need to do the
filming out of the public eye--if your filming is in sight of the
public, you would be in breach of the same laws that prohibit me from,
say, mowing my front yard in the nude.
The zoning issue is pertinent when a retail store seeks to sell this
sort of product.
The legal history of Internet censorship and pornography in the US.
But the only time the zoning question is likely to come up on the
production side is if residential premises (i.e. premises not zoned
for commercial activity) are being used for the shoot. This is not
likely to be a practical problem even if the shoot is inside a
residential dwelling, as long as the activity doesn't take place in
view of the neighbors:
"PORN SHOOT LOCATION RAISES NEIGHBORS IRE
LOS ANGELES, CA --Tiny Sleepy Hollow Lane in one of LAs most tranquil
residential neighborhoods has been turned into an impromptu stage for
adult filmmaking. Since August, eight adult films have been shot
there, filming permit records show.
Adult-film production crews apparently like the modern interior look
of Marc Smiths house, which the owner said can be filmed so that it
resembles such settings as a corporate boardroom or a nightclub. The
homes secluded and opulent backyard swimming pool is also an
Angry neighbors contend city leaders and officials who issue film
production permits have been slow to respond to complaints about the
turmoil that the moviemaking is causing in the hilltop neighborhood.
One neighbor objected to scantily clad actresses going in and out of
the house and occasionally being filmed on the front lawn. "Ive got a
13-year-old son. Its not the kind of thing I want him exposed to,"
the mother of four said.
The complaints have prompted the Entertainment Industry Development
Corp., the organization that issues the permits, to take a look at the
Any areas used for nudity or sex scenes must be screened so they are
not visible to the public, said Darryl Seif, vice president and
general manager of operations for the EIDC. Because of neighbors
complaints, Seif said he plans to meet with Smith.
Free Speech Coalition
Finally, there is your question of filming outside the U.S. and
importing the product. Here again, as long as we are not talking
about illegal material, i.e. material not protected by the First
Amendment, you won't have a problem.
The government agency that protects the U.S. from the import of this
material is the Customs CyberSmuggling Center
"Dedicated to investigation of international criminal activity
conducted on or facilitated by the Internet. Our responsibilities
include money laundering, drug trafficking, Intellectual Property
Rights, arms trafficking, and child pornography."
Search terms used:
"first amendment" license "adult film production"
"united states customs" pornography
Thank you again for your question. If you find any of this answer to
be unclear, please let me know. I would appreciate it if you would
hold off on rating my answer until I have a chance to reply.