Filming & Photography Permits

Filming

Filming activities may require a permit if they would impact park resources or the visitor experience. Under interim guidance, the National Park Service is not distinguishing between types of filming, such as commercial, non-commercial, or news gathering. Low-impact filming activities will not require a special use permit, but non-low-impact filming activities may require a permit to address their potential impacts on park resources and visitor activities.

Low-Impact Filming

“Low-impact filming’ is defined as outdoor filming activities in areas open to the public, except areas managed as wilderness, involving five people or less and equipment that will be carried at all times, except for small tripods used to hold cameras. Those participating in low-impact filming activities do not need a permit and are not required to contact the park in advance.

Videographers, filmers, producers, directors, news and other staff associated with filming are reminded that rules and regulations that apply to all park visitors, including park hours and closed areas, still apply to filming activities even if a permit is not required. Check with the park staff for more information on closures, sensitive resources, and other safety tips.

A filming permit is not required for:

  • Visitors using cameras and/or recording devices for their own personal use.

  • Outdoor filming activities outside of areas managed as wilderness involving five persons or less and equipment that will be carried at all times, except for small tripods used to hold cameras.

  • Sound technicians, and film or video news crews at breaking news events. In these cases, the superintendent will still be required to protect park resources and the rights and safety of visitors. News media wishing access for entertainment or scheduled purposes may require a permit.

  • National Park Service filming or photography, Department of the Interior Audiovisual Center filming or filming/photography done pursuant to a cooperative agreement or contract.

Non-Low-Impact Filming

Filming activities that do not meet the description of low-impact filming require at least ten days advance notice to the National Park Service by contacting the park directly in writing using the Special Uses Application Form. The park’s superintendent will determine whether the filming activities will require a special use permit for filming. Based on the information provided, a permit may be required to:

  • maintain public health and safety;

  • protect environmental or scenic values;

  • protect natural or cultural resources;

  • allow for equitable allocation or use of facilities; or

  • avoid conflict among visitor use activities.

Examples of requests that may require a permit include, but are not limited to: entering a sensitive resource area, filming in visitor centers, campgrounds, or other visitor areas. The decision to require a permit rests with the park superintendent based on potential impacts to park resources or the visitor experience.

 
A request for a filming permit may be denied if:
  1. the proposed filming would conflict with the visitors' normal use of the park.
  2. in the opinion of the superintendent, or designee, the filming activity requested represents a potential for harm or impact on the park's natural, cultural, or recreational resources, may create health or safety risks, or disrupt visitor use and enjoyment.
  3. it is determined that supervisory requirements for the proposed project will place unreasonable burdens on park staff.
  4. the request includes entry into areas closed to the general visiting public, or which would allow activities not permitted to the average visitor.
 

Photography

A photography permit is required for any individual, business, or organization (including nonprofit groups and educational institutions) taking photos for a market audience or receiving compensation associated with photos made in the park.

 
In general, a photography permit is not required for:
  • Visitors taking pictures intended for their personal use and enjoyment.
  • Credentialed news organizations documenting an event that cannot be covered at any other time or location.
 
The following lists outline specific situations that require a photography permit:
  1. Commercial still photography using models, props, sets, lighting, or other specialized equipment
  2. Commercial still photography that requires monitoring or oversight by park staff
  3. Use of large or unusual equipment, even for non-commercial purposes if activities warrant oversight by park staff
 

How to Apply for photography permit

Download and complete the still photography permit application form. Send your completed application, any associated documentation, and non-refundable application fee to the park’s Commercial Filming Coordinator. 

Still Photography Application

All applications must be postmarked 45 days or greater prior to the start date of the proposed activity to be conducted in the park. The non-refundable application fee may be paid by check or money order payable to "National Park Service."

Applications are handled in the order they are received. Priority will not be given to urgent requests nor will the park reply by express mail. Requests which involve multiple locations, complex logistics, environmental compliance, or coordination with multiple NPS divisions or visitor activities will require a minimum of 45 days to process. 

Requests for permits are evaluated based on the information in the application. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to attach maps, description of activity, check in points, what support will be provided, etc. to assist the park staff in evaluating your request. 

What fees will I have to pay?

The National Park Service will collect a cost recovery charge and a location fee for still photography permits. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the National Park Service in processing your request and monitoring your permit. This amount will vary depending on the park and the size and complexity of your permit. The application fee must be submitted with your application.

In addition, the National Park Service has been directed by Congress to collect a fee to provide a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands. The National Park Service uses the following still photography fee schedule:

  • 1–10 people - $50/day
  • 11–30 people - $150/day
  • Over 30 people - $250/day

Are there other permit requirements?

You may be required to obtain liability insurance naming the United States as additionally insured in an amount commensurate with the risk posed to park resources by your proposed activity. You may also be asked to post a bond to ensure the payment of all charges and fees and the restoration of the area if necessary.

What about photography workshops?

If you are planning a photography workshop, you may need a commercial use authorization. See the commercial use authorization page for more information.

 

Contact Us

Contact us for questions or more information about commercial filming and photography in the park or send completed applications to the address below. 

Email

Phone

423-569-9778

Mail

Filming/Photography Permits Coordinator
Big South Fork NRRA
4564 Leatherwood Road
Oneida, TN 37841

Last updated: April 12, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

4564 Leatherwood Road
Oneida , TN 37841

Phone:

423 569-9778

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