Commercial Filming Guidelines
The policy of National Park Service (NPS) is to allow commercial filming and photography when it is consistent with the protection and public enjoyment of park resources. NPS policy requires that primary consideration be given to safety, potential resource damage and anticipated disruption of normal visitor use.
To assure protection of the parks’ cultural, historic and natural resources, all commercial photography requests involving the use of NPS lands must be approved through a permitting process initiated through the Park Superintendent or his/her representative.
Tools for management and enforcement of the permitting system can be found in Director’s Order #53, RM-53 Special Park Uses, National Park Service Management Policies and Title 36, Part 5.5 and Title 43, Part 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
The Superintendent or his/her designated representative has the authority to determine when a permit for filming will be issued and has the discretionary right to waive any requirement involved in the permitting process.
The NPS does not require a permit for still photographers, commercial or non-commercial, when going or doing anything that members of the visiting public are generally allowed to go or do without a permit. This is true whether or not the photographer uses tripods, strobe lights, or interchangeable lenses. Coverage of breaking news never requires a permit, but is subject to restrictions and conditions necessary to protect park resources, public health and safety and to prevent impairment or derogation of park resources, values or purposes.
A permit is required if the Superintendent determines there is a potential of a photography project's harming or having an impact on the park's natural, cultural or recreational resources, or creating unacceptable health or safety risks, or disrupting visitor use and enjoyment. A permit is also required pursuant to 36 CFR 5.5(b) for persons taking photographs of vehicles, other articles of commerce or involves the use of a model, set or prop for the purpose of commercial advertising.
If a photography permit is required, the NPS will impose conditions necessary to accomplish the needed resource protection or visitor enjoyment objectives. Liability insurance requirements and other stipulations will commensurate with the scope of the project. For advertising photography, it is appropriate to impose a permit condition that prohibits implied or stated Service endorsement of the advertised product or service.
Who Needs a Filming Permit?
A permit is not required for:
The permitting process allows discussion of the proposed project, provides an opportunity to understand policies and presents avenues for discovery of possible alternatives. It also serves to establish an administrative record of filming activities.
Questions About Commercial Filming Permits
Once a proposed filming request has been processed and approved and the permit is prepared, an authorized representative (producer or director) must provide bond and use fees, sign, and return the original permit. Final terms of agreement and special instructions as they may apply to authorized filming activities will be presented and discussed. A copy of the completed permit/agreement must be carried on-site at all times during filming activities and must be presented upon request to any authorized park personnel.
Permit request by letter should be addressed to:
Denali National Park and Preserve
Application for Commercial Filming Permit
TERMINATION OF THE PERMIT
All filming permits issued by the National Park Service are “revocable” on 24-hours notice or without notice if the terms of the permit are violated. Deliberate infractions of terms contained in the filming permit or the deliberate making of false or misleading statements concerning intended actions in order to obtain a permit are causes for immediate termination of the permit and for possible prosecution.
A penalty may be levied against the permittee for inconveniences to the park associated with the revocation of the permit or default on conditions of the permit. Adjustment for unused filming days will be made by the park and pre-payments returned to the permittee.
GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE
General liability insurance MUST be issued by a United States company, and is required in order to protect the U.S. Government from claims or litigation connected with injury or damage resulting from the actions of the permittee or his/her agents or employees. It is also necessary in order to avoid undue tort liability to the Government and to assure that permittees are not judgment-proof if a visitor was injured through the negligence of film company representatives.
Those companies that normally carry extensive general liability insurance must obtain a rider naming the U.S. GOVERNMENT as additional insured on the insurance certificate. Others must obtain the necessary coverage on their own. An original copy of this certificate of insurance must be provided to the park.
General guideline amounts include:
Insurance requirements may be waived if, in the opinion of the Superintendent or his/her representative, there is little or no possibility of injury or damage to persons or property resulting from the proposed activity. Additional insurance amounts may be required at the Superintendent’s discretion, based on proposed filming activities.
Certain activities may trigger the need for the permitee to post a refundable damage bond. The amount of the bond will be equivalent to the estimated cost to the NPS for cleanup, repair or rehabilitation of resources or facilities that could potentially be impacted by the permit activities. At the conclusion of the permit, the bond will be returned to the permittee after the costs of cleanup, repair, or rehabilitation are deducted.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE SUPERVISION AND COSTS
Filming permits are issued by authority of the Superintendent or his/her designated representative. The Superintendent or his/her representative have the discretion to waive any requirement or cost involved in the permitting process. Application for a filming permit must be accompanied with the tendering of a non-refundable application (Cost Recovery) fee of $200.
Permit preparation and administrative time in excess of the standard time normally required to complete permit negotiations will be charged at $50 per additional hour and added to the nonrefundable permit charges above. These fees will be retained by the NPS regardless of whether a permit is approved and issued or not. Checks should be made payable to the National Park Service.
COST RECOVERY GUIDELINES
The following are general guidelines for typical permit and site-monitoring costs. Costs may fluctuate and will be governed by the project’s complexities, the resource risks involved and the level of monitoring required for each filming project:
ON-CAMERA APPEARANCE by EMPLOYEES
On-camera appearances by employees are allowed under the following conditions:
The Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees apply. Generally, employees are forbidden from accepting gratuities from prohibited sources. However, there are exceptions that allow employees to accept modest items of food and refreshment.
The NPS recognizes that the workday for a film production company typically lasts longer than eight hours. NPS employees assigned to monitor permit activities must be prepared to sustain themselves over the entire time span. The Superintendent may, on a case-by-case basis, grant the employee permission to accept provisions from the permittee.
OFF-DUTY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
Off-duty Government employees may work for filming companies only if they do not perform or appear to perform official duties. Off-duty employment while in uniform is not permitted. Personnel engaged in actual supervision of the permittee are not allowed to engage in off-duty employment with the filmmaker under any circumstance. The Superintendent must approve off-duty employment requests.
GOVERNMENT PROPERTY and SYMBOLS
Filmmakers or photographers may be unaware that certain filming activities require a permit, cost recovery, insurance certificate or performance bond. When the Superintendent or a park staff member becomes aware that filming activities that would normally require a permit are being conducted without a permit, he/she will contact the individual or group, explain the requirements necessary to comply with regulations and resolve the issue as soon as possible. A photographer or filmmaker who fails to obtain a required permit may be subject to enforcement action.
Did You Know?
In 1908, Charles Sheldon – a hunter and naturalist – described in his journal the idea of a park that would allow visitors to enjoy the beauty he saw while visiting Alaska. In 1917 his vision became reality, with the creation of Mount McKinley National Park.