Easter Jeep Safari: Do You Need a Film Permit?

Easter Jeep Safari has officially arrived. The March 24 to April 1 event will bring thousands of enthusiasts to Moab, Utah. For the shops and industry professionals attending and planning on shooting photography or video, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) requires a permit in most cases.

Here’s what commercial attendees planning on shooting photography and video need to know, according to BLM:

Commercial Filming

A permit is required for all commercial filming on public lands.

Commercial filming is defined as 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, TV broadcast, or documentary of participants in commercial sporting or recreation events created for the purpose of generating income.

Commercial filming or still photography will not be permitted if it is determined that:

  • 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)
  • The activity poses health or safety risks to the public that cannot be mitigated.

Each office authorizes filming on public lands within its jurisdiction, and each location is unique and subject to different conditions. 

Non-Commercial Filming

Casual-use activities (i.e., noncommercial activities occurring on an occasional or irregular basis that result in little or no impact to public lands) involving still photography or recreational videotaping do not require a permit. 

Public land visitors and recreational, professional and amateur photographers do NOT need a permit to take still photographs unless they 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. 

Permitting Process

The permitting process and items needed vary depending on the proposed location and type of filming. Contact the local BLM field office (or state and/or local Film Commission) before applying.

For minimal-impact filming in popular filming locations, complete the following and submit to the appropriate office:

  1. Land Use Application Form 2920. Complete only the application section of the form. The BLM will complete the permit portion.
  2. Detailed Description of Filming Activity.  Submit with application.
  3. Provide a map showing the specific location(s) requested (consult BLM contact for map of area if needed).
  4. Cost Recovery and Rental Fees. Pay the appropriate amount as discussed with the local BLM film permit coordinator. 
  5. Certificate of Insurance naming the Department of the Interior, BLM as co-insured. Contact the appropriate BLM office for specific dollar amount.

Depending on location, time of production, and type of production, the BLM may impose additional requirements such as bonding, and reimbursement for overtime costs.

Note that large productions and requests to film outside popular locations usually require an onsite pre-application conference with BLM personnel. Although it may vary, the time to process is usually at least 30 to 60 days.

Contact the local BLM field office for details.

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