Bishop Field Office

What does it take to get a Film Permit?

ATV Photo Clip, filmed in Alabama Hills, California

The long history of movie making in the Alabama Hills, since the early 1920's, continues today on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management.  Major movies filmed in the last ten years include: Stallions, The Searcher, Danger Zone III, Tremors, An Army of One, Maverick, The Shadow, Digital Man, Shadowlands, Star Trek series, Star Trek "Generations", New Age, and G.I. Jane.  Many commercials are filmed here annually, as well as many "still" magazine photos. Most of the filming occurring today is for television commercials and magazine advertisements. In the last two years, it has been noted that we are attracting companies from other countries such as Japan and Finland. The BLM, Bishop Field Office issues an average of 30 film permits per year, the most popular location being within the Alabama Hills (see thumbnail photos of Alabama Hills locations below).

BLM works with scouts, film crews and directors to assure the protection of a fragile desert environment and the unique resources within the Alabama Hills. The unique formations with the Sierra backdrop have been used to simulate Tibet, Nepal, India and even alien worlds.

General Information

A BLM representative will normally meet with the director and/or scouts on the site(s) prior to filming to discuss proposed actions and any sets or other special needs. A BLM monitor will be present during actual filming/photographing at least during one day of the permit and upon completion of filming to check site. If filming company has caused damage, they will be held financially responsible.

Application processing time depends on the location and type of production. Before filming can be approved, possible environmental impacts must be analyzed. For most popular locations, we have completed programmatic environmental assessments to expedite the approval of productions which have only minimal impacts.  Approval of filming outside of popular locations or involving more than minimal impacts will take longer. We will review proposed productions to determine the level of impact. Generally, if the filming involves major set construction, explosives, significant pyrotechnics, or is in a sensitive area, processing cannot be expedited.

Choosing a Location:

Select the thumbnail photos below to view a larger printable version of selected areas within the Alabama Hills. Here's a sytlized map of the Alabama Hills area for printing (165k, optimized for 300 dpi printer).

Black and White Photo of rock formations in the Alabama Hills.

Thumbnail of car advertisement Alabama Hills

Thumbnail of Wizard Shack for film in Alabama Hills

Thumbnail of ATV ad in Alabama Hills

Thumbnail of black and white photo western movie

Thumbnail of black and white photo, night scene Alabama Hills

Permitting Process:

Complete the following and submit on-line or by fax.  Follow-up by mailing a signed hard-copy of the forms.  Please note:  your permit will not be issued until signed originals of the application, filming activity forms, and fees have been received by the appropriate BLM office.

  1. Land Use Application Form 2920 (PDF 59K). This form is fillable on line using Adobe Acrobat Writer. Complete the application section. The BLM will complete the "Permit" portion of the form.  Print the completed form and fax it to (760) 872-5050 - Attn: Filming Permit
  2. Provide a map showing the specific location requested.
  3. Detailed description of filming activity. (PDF 72kb) This form is fillable on line using Adobe Acrobat Writer. Please fill out and submit with Land use Application form 2920.
  4. Cost recovery and rental fees (as discussed with the local BLM film permit coordinator)
  5. Certificate of Insurance/Bonding/Filming Stipulations information. (PDF 62kb) 

Fees:

PROCESSING AND MONITORING FEES vary depending on the estimated hours of BLM time required to process the application and to monitor filming and reclamation. In most cases, minimal impact filming at popular locations requires payment of Category 1 fees. These fees are generally paid with the application after coordination with the local BLM contact. The fees are based on the following schedule:

CATEGORYBLM WORK HOURSPROCESSING/MONITORING FEES*
2013
11 to 8$  117
28 to 24$  410
324 to 36$  773
436 to 50 $1,108
5Not applicable to Film Permits
650+Full reimbursement for actual costs

*Processing and Monitoring Fees may be assessed using separate categories

RENTAL fees vary per State and are generally established by Statewide appraisals. The following schedules are from the three states that process the most BLM filming permits:

CALIFORNIA RENTAL SCHEDULE

Motion Pictures/VideosCommercial Still Photography
1 - 30 people$250/day1 - 10 people$100/day
31 - 60 people$500/day11 - 30 people$150/day
Over 60 people$600/dayOver 30 people$250/day

Contacts:

Your initial contact will be with the BLM Program Specialist listed below:
Richard Williams, Recreation Planner; (760) 872-5033, or Larry Primosch, Realty Specialist; (760) 872-5031, BLM Office Fax machine; (760) 872-5050