SPECIAL USE PERMITS
A Special Use Permit is required for activities that provide a benefit to an individual, group, or organization, rather than the public at large and for activities that require some degree of management by the National Park Service in order to protect park resources and the public interest.
FILMING AND STILL PHOTOGRAPHY PERMITS
It is the policy of the National Park Service (NPS) to allow filming and photography when it is consistent with the protection and public enjoyment of park resources, and avoid conflict with the public's normal use and enjoyment of the park. Aesthetic values such as scenic vistas, natural quiet and dark night skies are resources that we value. We are also sensitive to the environments around our park sites. There are restrictions associated with group size, the use of commercial vehicles, generators, artificial lighting, commercial film equipment, props, sets and audio devices. Commercial vehicles must be in compliance with all federal and state laws and local ordinances. Inclement weather imposes road restrictions and limited access, in addition to tire chain controls in specific park areas.
The National Park Service cannot accommodate a project if:
- Damage to natural, cultural, wilderness, and recreational resources is expected which cannot be mitigated;
- Other activities are already planned or expected to occur at the same time and place, and filming or photography would be incompatible;
- The activity involves access to areas normally closed for reasons of resource protection or safety;
- The level of activity within the park is already so high that staff would be unavailable to work with film crew;
- The project includes a portrayal of activities that are not permitted within a national park;
- The production company is unwilling or unable to obtain necessary insurance; or
- The production company is unwilling or unable to reimburse the National Park Service for costs or comply with National Park Service bond requirements.
A permit is required when the filming, videotaping, sound recording or still photography involve the use of talent, professional crews, set dressings, or props; when they involve product or service advertisement; or when the activity could result in damage to park resources or disruption of visitor use. A permit is also required if the photographer wants to film in areas not open to the public, or before or after normal visitation hours. If you are uncertain whether your project requires a permit or not, contact the park for additional information. Generally, permits are not issued for filming on weekends or holidays.
Breaking news is an event that cannot be covered at any other time or at any other location. Filming of breaking news does not involve advertising, sets, props, or models. Coverage of breaking news does not require a permit, but film crews may not disrupt park visitors, damage park resources, or compromise public health and safety regulations. Information on breaking news comes from the park's Public Information Officer at 684-633-7082, ext. 20.
Frequently there are opportunities for news organizations to focus on park programs or increase public awareness of park-specific issues. Filming related to these stories must be coordinated and planned in advance. A permit will be issued if it is determined that the park would benefit from the increased public awareness. The National Park Service may assist with your research and/or offer interviews, if staff members are available. Contact the Public Information Officer at 684-633-7082, ext. 20 to discuss your project.
Photography of scenery has traditionally been part of a visit to a national park. Photography does not require a permit if it involves only hand-carried equipment (tripod, interchangeable lenses or flash), and does not involve professional crews, product or service advertisement, or use of models, props or sets.
A still photography permit is required when:
- Product or service advertisement is involved;
- Talent/models, props, crews or sets are involved;
- The project has the potential to disrupt other park activities or visitors;
- More than just hand carried equipment is utilized;
- Project requires access to an area normally closed or restricted to general public use;
- Access into an area outside of normal public use hours is required;
- Project carries with a potential risk to park resources;
- Activity raises safety concerns that can be mitigated through issuance of permit with restrictions.
Activities having the potential to significantly impact, alter, or damage park resources are prohibited. The following are also prohibited:
- Altering, damaging or removing vegetation or filming in wetlands
- Vehicle use off established roads and parking areas
- Use of insecticides--herbicides and pesticides
- Loud noises (60 decibels or higher) between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
- Use of meadow areas except on trails or already disturbed areas as determined by the NPS
- Night filming with artificial lighting
- Filming of wild animals in captivity (exception with park wildlife management operations)
- Aerial filming (highly restricted)
- Smoking in buildings or in vegetated areas
- Harassment of wildlife or introduction of wildlife captured elsewhere
- Use of equipment that inhibits public views of popular scenic vistas
- Digging, scraping, chiseling, or defacing natural features for filming purposes.
The use of domestic animals is permitted if humane treatment is accorded the animal at all times and park regulations related to domestic animal use are strictly observed. For example, dogs, cats, and other animals must be under physical restraint at all times. Wildlife captured elsewhere may not be used in any in-park filming, whether trained or not.
Applicants should read the summary of filming guidelines to facilitate an understanding of the permit process. If site scouting is planned prior to application period, contact the National Park Service coordinator for guidance and restriction for specific locations.
You can download the application or request it in person, by phone 684-633-7082, ext. 20, fax 684-633-7083, email, or letter. Completed applications must be returned to the park with payment.
Your request will be evaluated on the basis of the information in your application. If substantial staff resources are expended in the evaluation of the request, applicant will be billed for the additional costs. Therefore you are encouraged to attach maps, diagrams, script pages, storyboards, vehicle and equipment lists, crew lists, call sheet, itineraries, shot lists, etc. with your application to assist park staff in evaluating your request. Most requests may be processed within 5 days if the application is complete and without alteration. Requests involving multiple locations, complex logistics, or coordination with other visitor activities will require a minimum of 15 days to process. Projects which require environmental or cultural resource evaluation must be submitted no less than 30 days before the start of proposed activities, and may require additional time dependent upon project complexity. In compliance with the requirements of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, applicants must submit their social security number or Federal Tax ID number when filling out the application for permit. Park managers will not sign location releases supplied by applicants.
Please submit applications as far in advance as possible. Mail to:
Office of Special Park Uses
National Park of American Samoa
Pago Pago, AS 96799
Documents can be faxed to 684-633-7083. Contact our office at 684-633-7082 or by email.
Proof of insurance may be required dependent on the nature of the project.
IMPORTANT: Any activities not specified in the permit will not be allowed. No activities on National Park Service property may begin until the permit has been approved by the park and agreed to by the permittee. All permits include the requirement that the site be cleaned and restored at the end of your use. Permits will not be issued for filming on weekends and holidays. Normal visitor use patterns should not be interrupted for longer than five minutes, and only as specified in the approved permit. Visitors will be allowed to watch filming in public areas.
Audio and lighting restrictions apply to prevent disruption of visitor activities and/or disturb visitors. Large reflectors, silks, camera track, jibs, cranes, generators, large props, crowd scenes, foggers, oversized vehicles are discouraged and are authorized on a case-by-case basis, dependent on location, time of year, time of day, and other mitigating factors.
Remember to include us in your plans for tech scout of the site. That will be the time to further discuss details with those directly involved. A National Park Service representative will indicate the staging areas, scenic vistas, environmentally sensitive areas closed to filming, etc. If you need assistance with site scouting, a ranger can be made available to assist.
Normally in a national park, you cannot cut brush, dig in the ground, or move natural features. Digging in the ground of a national park usually involves environmental review and monitoring by an archeologist and/or vegetative specialist. Working in environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands, sequoia groves, meadows, and wilderness areas is restricted. We have created the project clearance review process to efficiently evaluate requests for complex projects which may include temporary set construction, extended use of a site (more than a week), or potential to impact the resource. For more information call or email the Film Coordinator at 684-633-7082, ext. 20.
Park Entrance Fees
There are no entrance fees.
A minimum cancellation fee of $100 per scheduled monitor will be charged to permittee if Film Coordinator is not notified within 48 hours. In addition, you are responsible for all National Park Service costs up to the time of cancellation. If the cancellation is weather related, we will attempt to make accommodations. Administrative costs are mandatory and non-refundable. You can leave a voice mail message with the Office of Special Park Uses (SPU) if you are canceling on a weekday at 684-633-7082, ext. 20. On evenings and weekends, leave a message with SPU and the monitor assigned to your project. These costs will be estimated and half of this amount must be paid before filming begins, with the balance to be billed to the filming company. All other costs incurred by the National Park Service for management of filming activity will be recovered. If park personnel is utilized to assist in identifying filming locations, then permittee will be charged for that monitoring or scouting cost. On evenings and weekends, leave a message with the monitor assigned to your project.
Denial of Permit
Filming permits may be denied for any of the following reasons:
- Resource damage--if it is determined by the Superintendent or his/her designee, that the filming activity represents a threat to the resource, including wildlife.
- Supervisory requirements--if supervisory requirements for the proposed filming project will place unreasonable burdens on staff capacity, irrespective of the permittee's willingness to pay supervisory costs.
- Disruption of visitor activities--if the proposed filming would conflict with the visitors' normal use of the Park.
- Prohibited or restricted activities--permits will not be issued which would allow film-makers to enter areas closed to the general visiting public, or which would allow activities not permitted to the visitor except for cooperative activities as an agent of the National Park Service.
As noted in permit conditions, non-compliance with any of the permit conditions could result in revocation of the permit. In addition, the permit contains other conditions or factors relating to revocation:
- Visitation levels
- Fire prevention requirements
- Non-permitted stunts, use of vehicles, special effects or equipment use
- Unauthorized access to park facilities, structures and resources
- False information (making deliberately false and/or misleading statements in order to obtain a permit
For filming activities which are perceived to interfere with visitor use or, further congest highly visited areas, or have the potential to impact park resources without proper supervision and care, at least one employee of the National Park Service will be assigned to the film crew. Degree of monitoring is based on crew size, equipment, props, scope of the project, location(s), and time of day:
- When a project involves substantial numbers of people and equipment, or if it involves a location that is environmentally sensitive or heavily visited, supervision will be on-site and continual.
- A ranger or representative may spot check during the filming to assure compliance when the operations involve only a few people or minimal amounts of equipment, or take place in areas where there is little, if any possibility of resource impact, inconvenience to visitors, or violation of permit conditions.
- The Superintendent may bring in other employees to assist in those instances when the scope of the project exceeds the park's ability to properly manage the activity. The resulting staff costs will be recovered from the permittee.
Before initiating any location set-ups or dispersal of equipment, a National Park Service representative MUST be on site. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the revocation of the permit.
Permit Fees and Monitoring
The National Park Service is required to recover all costs associated with permits for filming and photography. All administrative costs involving permit application and processing are nonrefundable and will be charged to permittee. We may require that charges be paid before work can begin on National Park Service property. Any additional costs will be posted as they occur. Charges must be paid within 14 days of the invoicing.
$100 (see "Permit Application Procedures" above)
$50/hour with two-hour minimum
$100 minimum (see above)
Note: Since our costs are based on the services we provide, we do not differentiate between profit and nonprofit documentary projects. By law, the National Park Service may not waive recovery of costs for projects that are produced to promote an industry, influence Congressional initiatives, or influence the outcomes of elections.
If park employees are requested to assist with site scouting, the fee schedule above applies. Please call in advance to schedule a meeting with a site scout if you would like assistance from our staff.
Location Fees for Motion Pictures and Videos
Over 50 people
Location Fees for Still Photography
Over 30 people
Congress has authorized the National Park Service to charge location fees for the use of park lands and facilities for filming purposes. Site use charges will be estimated based on the information you provide in your application.
Note: Since our costs are based on the services we provide, we do not differentiate between profit and nonprofit documentary projects. By law the National Park Service may not waive recovery of costs for projects that are produced to promote an industry, influence Congressional initiatives, or influence the outcomes of elections.
The permittee is required to adhere to territorial fire safety standards, regulations, and laws. The permittee and vehicle operators are responsible for obtaining current road and weather conditions, and for strict adherence to travel advisories, when in effect. Call before traveling to the park.
Depending on the nature of a project and the potential hazards associated with it, permittee may be required to have on-site medical, water safety, and/or fire personnel.
Restricted activities and conditions will be enumerated in the permit. The following activities are restricted and must be approved on a case-by-case basis:
- Use of children or animal
- Discharge of blank ammunition and all black powder weapons
- Amplified music or sound
- Construction and/or placing of large set dressings
- Filming/photography inside interiors of government administrative work areas
- Film equipment or activities on roadways
- Access to closed areas or access to areas during non-visitor use hours
- Generator use
Special conditions and restrictions will be noted on the permit and we will specify the number of people and the exact types of equipment allowed. All federal, state, and local laws and regulations apply to the operation of vehicles, and equipment. The monitor on duty will not allow equipment, vehicles and activities not specifically stated in the permit. No posting of signs park roads is allowed.
Permit activities and location access may be restricted based on weather or seasonal conditions (fire danger, standing water after rain, nesting season, etc.).
For More Information
For further assistance or information, please contact the Office of Special Park Uses at 684-633-7082 or email.