×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

National Parks May Boost Filming Fees

When filmmakers shot Fox Searchlight’s upcoming “Wild” at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, officials could not have been more helpful, says the movie’s location manager, Nancy Haecker.

What a contrast from the stereotype of government bureaucracy — and from issues with filming at national parks in the past when, for example, Alfred Hitchcock was unable to shoot the climatic chase scene in “North by Northwest” on Mount Rushmore, getting his shots instead on a studio mockup.

But now there’s a new concern: cost. The U.S. National Park Service and Dept. of the Interior are weighing a proposal to increase filming fees, and in some cases, double them.

The MPAA says the increases aren’t justified, and could discourage filming on federal lands. More than 50 lawmakers signed a letter urging Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack not to boost fees.

Location manager Doug Dresser, who recently shot a car commercial at Death Valley National Monument, maintained the competitive climate doesn’t support the hikes. “States are trying to eliminate or reduce fees for filming in state parks, and obviously there are foreign governments trying to attract filming. It doesn’t make sense (for the national parks) to price themselves out of the market.”

The proposed fee schedule would charge $1,000 per day for productions with 51-70 cast and crew members, and $1,500 per day for projects employing more people. According to the MPAA, the increases are from 33% to 100% higher than current prices. The fees are in addition to the repayment of the government’s costs for restoration of a site after any disruption caused by filming.

Some have argued, however, that the cost is hardly out of line when it comes to the budgets of many studio productions.

A spokesman for the park service said that responses to comments on the proposed fee schedule are still being drafted, and it is hoped that a final schedule will be issued early this fall.

The fee increase would raise money for backlogged repair projects, resource preservation, renovations and law enforcement. The National Park Service issued about 3,150 permits for commercial film production and photography in 2012, the only year for which statistics are available.

For years, studios were able to shoot with no location fee because the park service was prohibited from collecting money for location permits. But a law passed in 2000 allowed the service to establish a “reasonable” fee for filming. The MPAA, under then-chairman Jack Valenti, even supported the legislation, testifying before Congress that films that shoot on public lands are “the most enticing kind of tourism ad you can imagine.”

The effort to increase fees assumes that even in the face of global competition there’s nothing like a national park stamped all over a picture. Shooting there comes with restrictions, Dresser says. “But the tradeoff is, you get some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world.”

Popular on Variety

More Artisans

  • Ludwig Goransson Composer

    Composer Takes Music for the 'Star Wars' Series 'The Mandalorian' to a New Universe

    Ludwig Göransson, the Oscar- and Grammy-winning composer of “Black Panther,” faced a tricky assignment when he took on “The Mandalorian,” the new “Star Wars” series launching this week on the Disney Plus streaming service. “It’s a new medium, a new set of characters — and it has a certain tech-y grittiness, because you’re dealing with [...]

  • Charlize Theron'The Addams Family' film premiere,

    Charlize Theron to Be Honored by Costume Designers Guild (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Costume Designers Guild announced Wednesday that Academy Award-winner Charlize Theron will be honored with the spotlight award. The Spotlight Award honors an actor whose talent and career personify an enduring commitment to excellence, including a special awareness of the role and importance of costume design. “Charlize Theron is a costume designer’s dream, bringing integrity [...]

  • Sir Lionel Frost (left) voiced by

    Chris Butler Looks at the Magic Behind Animating 'Missing Link'

    Laika’s latest feature “Missing Link” raises the bar once again for the world of stop-motion, pushing boundaries in scope and visuals. The story of an unlikely friendship between Mr. Frost and his 8-foot yeti buddy Link is one of hope. “Missing Link” producer Arianne Sutner says the message of the film was to “leave people [...]

  • Joker

    How 'Joker' Production Designer and Costume Designer Brought New Color to a Familiar World

    The partnership between a film’s production designer and costume designer is an important one. One creates the outfits and the look of the character, the other creates the world that the viewer disappears into. Together, they collaborate to reinforce the visuals of the film. Todd Phillips’ “Joker” is a world where production designer Mark Friedberg [...]

  • Joker

    'Joker,' 'Game of Thrones' Lead Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Nominations

    The Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild (IATSE Local 706) has announced nominees in film and television categories for 2019. “Avengers: Endgame” picked up a nomination in the feature contemporary makeup category, while films such as “Downton Abbey,” “Bombshell,” “Joker,” “John Wick 3” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” each scored multiple nominations. On [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content