The policy of National Park Service 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 anywhere 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. News gathering 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?
Filming permits are required for any filming or photography that
- Involves the use of a model, set, or prop; or
- Requires entry into a closed area; or
- Requires access to the park before or after normal working hours; or
- Involves vehicles or other articles of commerce for the purpose of commercial advertising.
A permit is not required for:
- A visitor using a camera and/or recording device for his/her own personal use and within normal visitation areas and hours; or
- A commercial photographer not using a prop, model, or set, and staying within normal visitation areas and hours; or
- Press news gathering. While such press coverage does not require a permit, the media is subject to the imposition of restrictions and conditions necessary to protect park resources and public health and safety (see above).
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.
All authorized filming activities will be conducted in strict compliance with Federal, state, county and municipal laws, ordinances or regulations applicable to the area of operation covered under the agreement. Filming may not be allowed in those areas closed to general public use for safety or resource considerations.
- Resource damage - Filming activities that exhibit the potential for resource damage will be denied. Cutting trees or otherwise damaging vegetation, destroying or altering resources will not be allowed. Any activities that disrupt or alter the natural behavior of wildlife will be discouraged and may result in the permit being denied.
- Wildlife - The harassment of wildlife is prohibited by law. Photographing or filming of resident wildlife will be permitted only when such wildlife will not be molested, harmed or disturbed. All filming will be conducted in natural, unaltered settings to assure area integrity and the safety and well being of film crew and wildlife.
The permittee must comply with established Denali National Park and Preserve Photographers Code of Ethics (revised January 2001).
Wildlife captured elsewhere may not be used in any in-park filming, whether trained or not. Domesticated wild animals are included in this restriction.
- Disruption of visitor activities - National Park Service policy states that filming activity must not unduly disrupt normal visitor use of the park.
- Use of aircraft - The use of aircraft for commercial filming activities is allowed under strict guidelines. The use of fixed wing aircraft for commercial purposes or scouting purposes is permitted only if the FAA Advisory Circular (91-36C) recommended minimum altitude of 2000 feet above ground level is observed. Landing fixed-wing aircraft in the park must be approved as part of the application process. Helicopter landings are restricted to designated heli-spots. These limitations apply to all commercial filming permits. An aircraft use request that exhibits potential for degradation of visitor experience or park resources will be denied.
Questions About Commercial Filming Permits
Requests may be made in person at park headquarters or by telephone or letter. An Application for Photography/Filming Permit, a park-specific Commercial Filming Questionnaire and the $200 non-refundable application (cost recovery) fee is required from all applicants before an application will be considered.
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
Attention: Commercial Filming/Photography
Post Office Box 9
Denali Park, Alaska 99755
Mile 237 Parks Highway
Denali Park, Alaska 99755
Application for Commercial Filming Permit
The application and a commercial filming questionnaire must be completed and returned, along with the applicable non-refundable application fee, to the Film Permit Coordinator before a filming permit will be considered. Please make checks payable to the National Park Service. Information returned must be specific, especially that information dealing with site locations and actual anticipated filming activities. Insufficiently prepared applications can result in a protracted, more expensive permitting process that may result in denial of the application.
- Pre-permit conference - Filming permits will only be issued after a briefing by the Film Permit Coordinator or her/his representative and in no case before the Application Questionnaire and application fee have been properly submitted. All locations must be approved prior to filming and depending on the complexity of the proposed project; one or more on-site visits to proposed locations may be necessary.
Up to 30 days may be required for administrative review of a proposed filming activity, though smaller projects may require less time. Smaller, less involved projects may allow a pre-permit conference via telephone.
- Denial of permits - Requests for filming permits will be evaluated in a manner consistent with current applicable legislation, regulations, policies and guidelines. Filming permits may be denied for any of the following reasons:
- Resource Damage. If, in the opinion of the Superintendent or designee, the filming activity requested represents an unreasonable threat to the resource (including wildlife), the permit application will be denied. Consideration will be based on both long and short-term effects as they relate to environmental, archeological and historic preservation laws. Any significant cultural objections must be mitigated before a permit will be approved.
- Supervisory Requirements. If it is determined supervisory requirements for the proposed filming project will place unreasonable burdens on staff capacity, the permit application will be denied. This denial will be made irrespective of the permittee’s willingness to pay supervisory costs.
- Disruption of Visitor Activities. If the proposed filming would conflict unduly with the visitors’ normal use of the park, the request may be denied.
- Safety. Activity posing undue risk or hazard to the general public will be denied.
- Regulatory Conflict. Requests for filming which will result in an electronically or digitally edited product that depicts an activity in direct conflict with regulations prohibiting the “depicted” activity in an area that the general viewing public recognizes as a national park area will be denied.
- Inability to Obtain Insurance/Bonding. The applicant is unable to obtain the necessary bond and/or insurance certification.
- Failure to Agree to Pay Assessed Cost Recovery. The applicant is unwilling to agree to pay the estimated cost recovery.