Commercial Filming & Photography
For more information:
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
231-326-4740 - Voice
The National Park Service (NPS) and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore require an application to be submitted for review of the project. The Filming application - Short Form is to be used for still photography and some smaller video/film projects. The Filming application - Long Form is to be used for more complicated video/film projects where more information is required to evaluate the application. The completed application must be submitted with $100.00. The $100.00 is a non-refundable application and administrative charge. This fee should be in the form of a certified check made payable to the National Park Service.
Remember, you are dealing with a Federal agency and we have guidelines and time lines we must follow when considering projects which involve potential impacts to our park resources. Moreover, we must do this within the pre-existing projects and workloads. In other words, do not expect a one-day turnaround. Give us as much lead time as possible. Include us at the idea stage. It is easier for us to adjust to changes as the plan evolves, than for us to try to rush through a review of a finished plan that needs to be implemented tomorrow. Up to two weeks may be required for administrative review of a complex proposed filming activity while smaller projects can generally be reviewed within three business days. Please allow adequate time for this review process as questions may arise that would delay a decision.
If Your Application is Approved:
Upon approval of the application, you must present a certificate of insurance and a $100.00 permit fee. If it is deemed that a monitor (NPS employee) is to be assigned to your project, there will be a minimum fee of $50.00 per monitor per hour.
The proposed Departmental rule requires the use of a Department-wide location fee schedule. Until that schedule is finalized, the NPS will phase in the location fee in a two step process. A notice of the schedule will be published in the Federal Register. Beginning May 15, 2006 and valid until the final rule is published in the Federal Register, the following location fee schedule is in effect:
Motion Pictures/Videos Commercial Still Photography Location Fees:
*Wildlife photographers and videographers with crews consisting of 1-2 people will not be charged the location fee. Permitting and monitoring fees will still be applicable when required. This exception is intended to address nature videographers who may spend over 200 days filming in a park.
General liability insurance is required. This is an original certificate of insurance with a rider stating that the U.S. Government, National Park Service, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is named as additionally insured. This proof of insurance must be provided to the park before the permit is issued and filming begins. Insurance amounts may vary depending on the complexity of the project as well as risks. The general bond schedule is:
Some projects may require a performance bond or cash deposit. The purpose of the bond is to ensure that the natural area or historic feature is left in as good a condition as it was prior to the filming, and to cover any unpaid costs incurred as part of the project. Generally, bonds or deposits will be required in amounts at least equal to the estimated cost to the Government for clean up and/or restoration that would be necessary if the permittee fails to perform the restoration process to the satisfaction of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore's personnel.
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. At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: Permission is required; Forgiveness is NOT an option.
Please remember that this is a National Park Service site and we are protecting resources for generations to come. We take that responsibility seriously.
Commercial photographers and their crew, who obtain a filming permit from the NPS, are recognized as being in the park for non-recreational purposes for the duration and purposes of that permit, and as such, are specifically exempted from paying entrance fees under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (LWCFA) and the current Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA).
On-camera appearances by employees are allowed under the following conditions:
Government Property and Symbols:
Government property, including the uniform, will not be used, loaned or rented to a film company, or diverted from its normal use, for filming purposes except as stated in 43 C.F.R. 20.735.15 - Rental of NPS equipment on a reimbursable basis pursuant to 16 U.S.C. 1.
Government Symbols: Use of the NPS Arrowhead in titles, credits or other deliberate disclosures requires the permission of the NPS Director (36 C.F.R. 11.2 and Special Directive 93-7).
Special Directive 93-7 declares that use of the Arrowhead is controlled through law and regulation. Hence, under 36 C.F.R. 11.2, the Director may authorize the use of the Arrowhead "for uses that will contribute to the purposes of education and conservation as they relate to the program of the National Park Service." The NPS may actively assist filming and photography activities that promote public understanding and appreciation of the National Park Service, and the Director may authorize use of the arrowhead symbol for such filming projects. All other uses are prohibited, such as advertising, promotional or directly commercial purposes.
Incidental filming of the symbol which may include the shoulder patch of an uniformed employee, an NPS vehicle or an entrance or similar sign is not prohibited.
Commercial Filming and Photography:
The National Park Service encourages filming and photography when it will promote the protection and public enjoyment of park resources, provided that the activity does not violate the criteria listed below:
PERMITS will be required if the project involves any of the following:
Applications may be denied for any of the following reasons:
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will not censor the content of any filming project, nor require finished film products for review, files or documentation purposes; however, a storyboard or layout may be helpful during the review process.
Permits issued for commercial photography specifically prohibit implied or stated endorsement by the National Park Service. Identifiable NPS equipment, uniforms, buildings or insignia may not be portrayed in commercial advertising in any way that would imply NPS endorsement of the product.