Magazine article Variety

Natl. Park Fees May Take a Hike

Magazine article Variety

Natl. Park Fees May Take a Hike

Article excerpt

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. …

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