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Filming Permits

When Do I Need a Film Permit?

Casual use activities which normally involve noncommercial still photography or recreational videotaping would not require a permit or fees. Casual use means noncommercial activities occurring on an occasional or irregular basis that ordinarily result in little or no impact to public lands, resources, or improvements.

Still Photography

Most professional and amateur photographers are allowed to take still photographs on public lands without a permit or the payment of any fees. Public land visitors and recreational, professional and amateur photographers do NOT need a permit to take still photographs unless the still photography will:

  • Use models, sets or props that are not part of the site’s natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities;
  • Take place where members of the public are generally not allowed; or
  • Take place at a location where additional administrative costs are likely.

Commercial Filming

A permit is required for all commercial filming activities on public lands. Commercial filming is defined as the use of motion picture, videotaping, sound recording, or other moving image or audio recording equipment on public lands that involves the advertisement of a product or service, the creation of a product for sale, or the use of actors, models, sets, or props, but not including activities associated with broadcasts for news programs. For purposes of this definition, creation of a product for sale includes a film, videotape, television broadcast, or documentary of participants in commercial sporting or recreation event created for the purpose of generating income.

Commercial filming or still photography will NOT be permitted if it is determined that any of the following criteria apply:

  • There is likelihood of resource damage that cannot be mitigated;
  • There would be an unreasonable disruption of the public’s use and enjoyment of the site (beyond short-term interruption of use of the site); or
  • The activity poses health or safety risks to the public that cannot be mitigated;

Commercial photographers and filming companies should contact the local BLM office to advise them of their activity and determine whether or not a permit or fees are required. Each local BLM Field Office authorizes filming on public lands within its jurisdiction. Each location is unique and is subject to different conditions.

For more information on film permitting, please contact Vanessa Engle.

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