Filming & Photography Activities at Steamtown NHS




"The service … shall promote and regulate the use of … national parks … [its] purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."(16 U.S.C. 1)

It is the policy of Steamtown National Historic Site to allow filming and photography when and where possible, while adhering to this mandate. Therefore, primary consideration will be given to potential resource damage and to anticipated disruption of normal public use. The following guidelines are established by the Superintendent of Steamtown National Historic Site as they relate to filming and photographic activities within the park.

Generally, permits are not required for:

- Visitors using cameras and/or recording devices for their own personal use;

- Sound technicians and film or video news crews at breaking news events;

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

A request for a Filming/Photography Permit may be denied if:

- in the opinion of the Superintendent or his/her designee, the filming activity requested represents a potential for harm or impact on the park's natural, cultural, wilderness or recreational resources, may create health or safety risks, or disrupt visitor use and enjoyment;

- it is determined that supervisory requirements for the proposed project will place unreasonable burdens on park staff, regardless of the applicant's willingness to pay supervisory costs;

- the permittee fails to obtain insurance/bonding, or to agree to pay assessed cost recovery;

- the proposed filming or photography would conflict with the visitors' normal use of the park;

- the request includes entry into areas closed to the general visiting public, or which would allow activities not permitted to the average visitor.

Filming/Photography Permits are issued for photography, filming, and associated sound recording to ensure protection of resources, to prevent significant disruption of normal visitor uses, and when they involve props, models, professional crews and casts, or set dressings. Permits are required for access to areas normally closed to the visiting public.

To apply for a permit, use the link provided to print out and complete the application that is most suitable for your project:

the short form (NPS-Form 10-931) which requires a scene summary and schedule by location of the filming activity OR
the long form (NPS Form 10-932) which requires a scene summary, schedule by location, operational information, and information on special activities, such as the employment of children, use of animals, or special effects.

Your completed form should then be submitted to the park, per the instructions on the last page of the application, allowing sufficient time for evaluation by the park staff before the start date of your activity in the park. Please remember to enclose your check or money order for $50.00 to cover non-refundable application processing costs. Your request will be evaluated on the basis of the information on your application. Therefore, you are encouraged to attach maps, diagrams, script pages or storyboards to assist the park staff in evaluating your request. Please note that the form submitted is an application only and does not serve as permission to conduct the project.

Most requests can be processed within four (4) working days. Requests which involve multiple locations, complex logistics or coordination with other visitor activities will require a minimum of ten (10) working days to process. Projects which require environmental or cultural resource evaluation must be submitted not less than fifteen (15) working days before the start of proposed activities.

All costs of evaluating the request may be billed to the applicant whether a permit is issued or not. In compliance with the requirements of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, the applicant must submit their Social Security number (SSN) or Federal Taxpayer Identification number (TIN) when filling out the application for permit.

Conference/Site Scouting. Conference/Site Scouting will be scheduled with the potential permittee after the application has been received and reviewed by a park staff person designated by the Superintendent. A visit to all potential filming sites in the park will usually be made at this time. By the end of the meeting, the Superintendent's designee should have enough information necessary for the permit's preparation once the project has been approved. The completed permit will detail the activities and locations to be authorized. Any activities not specified in the permit will not be allowed. No activities on NPS property may begin until the permit has been approved by the park and agreed to by the permittee.

Costs and Fees. Costs incurred by the NPS in conjunction with accommodating the permitted activity will be reimbursed by the permittee. Administrative costs and estimated costs for activities on-site will be calculated and must be paid when the permit is approved. If any additional costs are incurred, the permittee will be billed at the conclusion of the permit.

The applicant or permittee is required to notify the NPS of any delays or schedule changes at least 36 hours in advance, or as agreed to by the Superintendent. Should the applicant or permittee fail to provide such advance notification, the applicant or permittee is responsible for paying all costs incurred by the NPS anytime during the application, permitting, or operational process, including those due to cancellation, moving, or rescheduling of the project. Such payment will include but not be limited to a non-refundable charge for each staff person scheduled for the affected activity. Such charge will, at a minimum, be the equivalent of two hours overtime for each employee assigned. These costs may be recovered through the posting of a bond at the time of application or through a bill for collection presented at any point after initial contact.

Any fees applicable will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The permittee will be advised of any such fees prior to receiving a permit.

Insurance and Bonding. General liability insurance must be carried by the permittee showing the U. S. Government, National Park Service, Steamtown National Historic Site as additionally insured. Short-term policies must show coverage on an "occurrence" basis. The minimum amount of commercial liability insurance is $1,000,000. Additional amounts may be required for high risk activities.

Certain activities may trigger the need for the permittee to post a refundable damage bond. The amount of the bond will be equivalent to the estimated cost to the NPS for clean-up, 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 costs of clean up, repair or rehabilitation are deducted.

Sharing the Park. A filming or photography permit does not allow the permittee to restrict park visitors from any location; therefore, sites which attract a large number of visitors should be avoided. Normal visitor use patterns will not be interrupted for longer than five (5) minutes or only as specified in the approved permit. Film/photography permit activities may not occur simultaneously with other permitted activities or unduly conflict with scheduled public activities. Visitors will be allowed to watch filming.

For more complex permit operations, or for activities which require coordination with other visitor use, and for those which are perceived to 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/photography crew. The permittee will be responsible for reimbursing the park for NPS monitoring. These costs will be included in the estimate of site use charges. Any additional costs will be recovered at the conclusion of the permit.

Restrictions 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 animals;

- Discharge of blank ammunition and all black powder weapons;

- Mechanical or pyrotechnic special effects;

- Stunts;

- Amplified music or sound;

- 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.

The permit will specify the number of people and the exact type(s) of equipment allowed. Activities not specified in the permit will not be allowed by the NPS monitor on duty.

Please note that the permit does not include the authority to film or photograph individuals. Model releases are the responsibility of the permittee.

Closures. Permit activities may be restricted based on weather or seasonal conditions (fire danger, standing water after rain, nesting season, etc.) Additional closures, use limits and/or restricted activities are listed in the Superintendent's Compendium.

Prohibited Activities. Activities having the potential to damage or significantly impact or alter park resources are prohibited. The following are also prohibited:

- Altering, damaging or removing vegetation;

- 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.;

- Smoking in buildings, on boardwalks or in vegetated areas;

- Use of fragile vegetation areas, except on trails or already disturbed areas, as determined by the National Park Service;

- Flying aircraft below FAA recommended minimum altitude (usually 2,000 feet) or landing of aircraft except at designated landing sites;

- Writing on or discoloring any natural feature or structure;

- Other prohibited/restricted activities listed in the Superintendent's Compendium.

Wildlife. Harassment of wildlife is prohibited by law. Filming of wildlife is permitted as long as there is no disturbance, feeding, teasing, or manipulation of resident or free-roaming animals. Wildlife captured elsewhere may not be used in any in-park filming, whether trained or not.

Termination of Permit. All filming or photography 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 the terms of 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 cause for possible prosecution. Permits will be revoked if damage to resources or facilities is threatened, or if there is a clear danger to public health or safety.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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