Fact vs. Fiction
Myth #1: I need a film permit to take a personal photo of my family on the beach.
Fact: False. A film permit is not needed for photography and video that is for personal use only.
Myth #2: The change from the Annual Film Permit badge to the Open and Accessible ePermit has severely limited the locations that I can now go to.
Fact: False. The Open and Accessible ePermit uses the same DLNR Open and Accessible Sites list that was available to all Open and Accessible and Annual Film Permit holders.
Myth #3: A major change has occurred with the State’s film permitting requirements that now requires film permits for “commercial and non-commercial” activity. (e.g. “everyone snapping a picture with an iPhone now needs to secure a film permit from the State”)
Fact: The requirement for film permits has been in place since the 1960’s when the original “Hawai‘i Five-0” was shot in the Islands. Film permits are issued through the Hawaii Film Office under the terms and conditions established by the state agency that has jurisdiction over the filming location. The terms “commercial and non-commercial” filming were established and defined years ago and film permits have been issued accordingly. The verbiage “commercial and non-commercial” has been posted on the Hawai‘i Film Office website for many years and has been used in print materials, specifically the Hawai‘i Production Index, since the 1990’s. Therefore, the “commercial and non-commercial” wording is not new. Nonetheless, we have changed that language on our website and will continue to clarify in all our printed materials that “non-commercial” is defined as any still photography, film or video that is being produced for educational or non-profit purposes. Those types of productions still require a permit and the requisite insurance.
Myth #4: With the Annual Permit badge, I could go everywhere and anywhere.
Fact: False. Annual Permit holders were only allowed to go to the locations listed on the DLNR Open and Accessible Sites list that was previously included with the badge and posted on our website. The badge did not allow photographers to use private property, county parks, federal property, and other state locations that were not on the DLNR Open and Accessible Sites list.
Myth #5: “Officials plan to crackdown on those who film on state land without the proper permits, even if they’re not commercial photographers.” and “Officials will clamp down on non-commercial activity, and that’s causing confusion.” –KHON July 7, 2015
Fact: False. The State has been enforcing the film permit requirements since their inception and no enhanced level of enforcement is taking place. DLNR and the film office respond to any complaints that come in. They may or may not lead to a determination that a violation has occurred. This is done in coordination with DLNR and its Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE). As the agency having jurisdiction over the Open and Accessible sites, DLNR has the authority through its DOCARE division to cite and possibly fine productions that may be filming without a permit, violating the terms and conditions of an existing film permit or violating a DLNR statute or administrative rule. DOCARE as well as other law enforcement agencies, such as the Honolulu Police Department, have the authority to shut down a production that does not have the proper film permit for the public location where they are filming.
Film Industry FAQs:
Permits or Location Inquiries
Q: I’m working on a film project, how do I determine that I need a state film permit?
A: State film permits are required for all filming activity, commercial or non-commercial, that takes place on public, State-administered locations and/or Conservation-zoned lands. “Commercial” is defined as any still photography, film or video production that will be sold for profit. “Non-commercial” is defined as any still photography, film or video that is being produced for educational or non-profit purposes. For county property contact the County film offices and for Federal areas, you need to contact the Federal agency that has jurisdiction over that location.
Q: I’m filming on private property. Do I need to get a permit like I do in L.A.?
A: Probably not. The State of Hawai‘i Film Office does not process film permits for private property because for the most part, they do not fall within State jurisdiction. You should contact the private property owner to discuss obtaining permission to utilize their property and any requisite insurance they may require. However, if the private property is zoned conservation, you will need to obtain a state film permit. This zoning is normally for agriculture lands or jungle type locations.
Q: I’m taking photos of my family on state property in Hawai‘i, do I need a state film permit?
A: No. Still photography, film or video shot for personal use only, does not require a film permit from the State or the County.
Q: I use a digital camera to take engagement and wedding photos on the beach, do I still need a state film permit? I’m not a “big” film or TV production.
A: It depends. If you are receiving compensation for these photos (as defined by DLNR, compensation includes, but is not limited to, monetary fees, barter, or services-in-kind), or if you are getting paid to take the photos or sell the final product online or as a print to an individual or company, then YES, you need to obtain a Standard Film Permit or Open and Accessible Film Permit (if applicable) to film on any state property. The word “film” is meant to cover film, video and digital media formats.
Q: Do I need insurance to film on state property?
A: Yes, see the Certificate of Insurance page on our website for specific insurance requirements. See insurance.
All insurance requirements are set through the agency that has jurisdiction over the location or the Risk Management Division of the Department of Accounting and General Services. These requirements are not the decision of the Hawai‘i Film Office or DBEDT.
Q: I’m a student. Do I still need a state film permit and insurance?
A: Yes, if you are a student and want to film on state property, then you need to apply for a state film permit and provide the required insurance. Call the Hawai‘i Film Office at 808-586-2570 for more information and discuss your student project needs.
NOTE: Students enrolled in the University of Hawai‘i , Academy for Creative Media program must also provide the completed and signed Student Verification Form with their state film permit application.
Q: What kind of state film permit do I need?
A: Please read our Permit Procedures page as there are two main types of state film permits:
Standard Film Permit: This is the most common type of permit for film, television, and commercial productions. Productions must list specific locations where they wish to film. Standard Film Permit applications must be submitted at least five (5) business days prior to the scheduled shoot date at that location.
Open/Accessible Permits: This is the type of film permit used for filming on State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources Open and Accessible sites and is only for low-impact productions that meet specific criteria. This category also applies to former Annual Permit holders and is only for State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources Open and Accessible sites, limited to these specific locations and for very minimal activity. This type of permit may be valid for up to a two-week period and can also be applied for online. It is important to note that this new online system will allow you to apply for your O/A locations for multiple two-week durations at one time, so long as your insurance is valid for the duration of the time you are requesting. The online $10 convenience fee would only be charged once for this type of extended transaction.
Wiki Permits (DLNR ALTERNATIVE): Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Land Management Division allows wedding, portrait, scenic, and landscape photographers to secure permits for filming through the Wiki Permit system as an alternative to the Open/Accessible Permit available through the Hawai‘i Film Office. It is a completely separate permit program and is only applicable to unencumbered state lands under the Land Management Division’s jurisdiction. For more information, contact Department of Land and Natural Resources at (808) 587-0439 or (808) 587-0417.
Q: What are the different insurance requirements for each type of permit?
A: For a Standard Film Permit a Certificate of Insurance for General Liability ($1 million per occurrence, $2 million aggregate) and Automobile Liability ($1 million bodily injury per person, $1 million bodily injury per accident and $1 million property damage per accident), naming the State of Hawaii as additional insured, is required. See insurance.
For an Open and Accessible Permit a Certificate of Insurance for General Liability ($1 million per occurrence, $2 million aggregate), naming the State of Hawaii as additional insured, is required. See insurance.
For a WikiPermit please review DLNR’s Terms and Conditions for information regarding their certificate of insurance requirements. For more information, contact Department of Land and Natural Resources at (808) 587-0439 or (808) 587-0417.
Q: What kind of locations would I need a Standard Film Permit for if I already have obtained an Open and Accessible Permit?
A: An Open and Accessible Permit only covers DLNR Open and Accessible Sites. There are several other state locations where filming activity can occur that are not considered Open and Accessible Sites. Examples include (but are not limited to):
- Larger State Parks: For example – Diamond Head State Monument, Mākena State Park, Wai‘ānapanapa State Park
- Popular Beaches: For example – Mākena Beach, Oneloa Beach at Kapalua (aka Ironwoods Beach), Keawa‘ula (aka Yokohama Bay)
- Trails: For example – Mānoa Falls Trail, Pu‘u Pehe Trail, Makapu‘u Lighthouse Trail
- Any water activity: For example – if you are filming someone getting their toes wet on the shoreline or paddling a mile out to sea, the action is considered “water activity.”
* Please note that state locations that are not considered Open and Accessible sites will require the insurance requirements for a Standard Film Permit (which include the automobile liability)
Q: How long does it take to get a state film permit?
A: The Standard Film Permit Application must be submitted at least five (5) business days (excludes weekends and state holidays) prior to the first prep/shoot day. The online DLNR Open/Accessible Permit may be obtained immediately, once our office approves your account and you become a “known permitter.”
Q: I will be using pyrotechnics and/or explosions. Do I need a special state film permit?
A: Yes, you will need to apply for a Standard Film Permit. All special effects must be indicated on the State’s Standard Film Permit. Any filming activity that requires the use of flammable materials, explosive devices or open flames is considered a special effect. The agency with the jurisdiction over the location will need the details of the pyrotechnics and/or explosions in order to properly review the requested filming activity. The State may require that other government agencies (e.g. police, fire, etc.), as well as neighborhood residents, be notified of the filming activity and special effects.
Q: I have a list of locations where I’d like to film. How do I figure out if these locations are state, county, federal, or private property?
A: Please contact the State of Hawai‘i Film Office at (808) 586-2570 or email@example.com regarding all location inquiries, or hire a local Location Manager to assist if your budget allows for this. There are many seasoned professionals listed in the Hawai‘i Production Index.
Q: What costs are involved with obtaining state film permits?
A: Many state locations are free to use for filming, but there are several exceptions: airports, harbors, and highways under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation are $100/day; small boat harbors, launch ramps, and beaches under the Department of Land and Natural Resources / Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation are $100/day; parks and beaches under the Department of Land and Natural Resources / Division of State Parks have a $100/day nonrefundable fee; and locations that fall under the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands are, at minimum, $1,000/day.
Q: Do I have to pay for a State officer to monitor filming while I’m on location?
A: That depends. If you have a Standard Film Permit for a Department of Land and Natural Resources location, the State may require that the production hire a law enforcement officer from the Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) to monitor filming activity at that specific location. The decision to require a DOCARE officer is based on the sensitivity of the location, size of production, impact to the public, and use of special effects.
Q: I would like to film at the University of Hawai‘i or a public school. Do I need a permit?
A: The State of Hawai‘i Film Office does not process film permits for state properties or facilities that are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education or University of Hawai‘i, with the exception of the University of Hawai‘i ’s Mauna Kea Observatories and the Haleakalā Observatories. If you would like to film at any of the University of Hawai‘i or public school locations contact the schools directly for more information:
Dept. of Education (Public Schools) – Please contact the principal of the school.
State of Hawai‘i Public Charter School – Please contact the principal of the school.
University of Hawai‘i Facilities – Visit http://www.hawaii.edu/news/filming.php You can also contact the University of Hawai‘i Public Relations Office at (808) 956-6934
Q: I’m holding my wedding on a beach. Do I need a permit for someone to take photos of my wedding?
A: Yes, a film permit is required for the photography of a wedding if you are hiring a photographer to take the photos. You can apply for either a Standard Film Permit, or Open and Accessible Permit (if applicable). Additionally, you may be able to apply for a WikiPermit through DLNR to film the wedding if the event meets their requirements. If the photographer is not being hired (such as a friend or relative is taking the photos), you do not need a film permit as that would be considered personal use.
Q: I’m using a helicopter in my shoot. Do I need a state film permit?
A: Possibly. Airspace is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) so the State of Hawai‘i Film Office does not process film permits for airspace per se. However, if the production is intending to film at a state airport or intending to land a helicopter on state lands, or drop an actor or crew member from any aircraft or helicopter into state waters or onto state land as part of the filming activity, or will be staging activity on state lands which will be filmed from a helicopter, a state film permit is required. Please contact the State of Hawai‘i Film Office at (808) 586-2570 to discuss the details of such aerial activity.
Q: I plan to use an unmanned aircraft system (aka drone) in my production to shoot on state property. Do I have to get a state film permit for this activity?
A: The State will review the request to use drones on a case-by-case basis and only if: a) the production is working with one of the aerial production companies granted an FAA exemption to operate unmanned aircraft systems (drones) for commercial use; and b) the use of the unmanned aircraft system (drone) is limited to the exemption allowed by the FAA, which is for “scripted, closed-set filming.” See the FAA’s website for more information. Keep in mind that the state agency that has jurisdiction over the location (Department of Land and Natural Resources, Department of Transportation, etc.) may have their own requirements regarding the use of drones on their properties, including higher insurance levels.
Q: I’m a wedding photographer and want to use an unmanned aircraft system (aka drone) on state property to take photos of my clients wedding ceremony. Do I have to get a state film permit for this activity?
A: Yes, you do, but you would first have to receive an exemption from the FAA for your commercial wedding photography use of drones before the State will even review your film permit application. See the FAA’s Know Before You Fly brochure about the commercial use of drones for wedding photography.
Q: I’m filming water activity. Do I need a State permit?
A: Yes. A Standard Film Permit is required for any filming that includes water activity. “Water Activity” includes any action occurring within the waters of the State. Waters of the State includes all coastal waters that extend three nautical miles from the shoreline of any Hawaiian Island, and all interisland traffic (e.g. boats, canoes, thrill craft, or other types of water vessels) within these waters. Therefore, if you are filming someone getting their toes wet on the shoreline or paddling a mile out to sea, the action is considered “water activity.” A certified water safety professional must be hired when there is water activity. This individual must be safety certified and provide the Hawai‘i Film Office with a water safety letter that outlines a plan of action as to how they intend to prevent an emergency from occurring and their plans should one occur. In addition, copies of their current safety certification are required. Please contact State of Hawai‘i Film Office at (808) 586-2570 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Q: I’d like to film a TV commercial in the water using a boat or jet ski. Is that allowed?
A: Yes, the State issues film permits on a case-by-case basis for the use of water vessels. However, there are very strict requirements for the use of water vessels. The production will have to provide a safety plan, details of the activity to take place including details of the scene, water vessel registration information and the water vessel captain’s information with the Standard Film Permit Application. Please contact State of Hawai‘i Film Office at (808) 586-2570 or email@example.com for more information.
Q: I’ve wrapped my production. I want a signed release for the rights to use the footage shot on state property, how do I obtain it?
A: An approved, issued state film permit is considered approval to use the state locations and images in your project in perpetuity. The state film permit takes the place of a location agreement or signed release.
Q: I took some images for fun, but now want to sell these images. Can I get a state film permit?
A: No. The state does not issue retroactive film permits.
Working in the Film Industry
Q: I’d like to work as a Production Assistant on a project. How do I get started?
A: It’s best to contact productions directly, go to our website and see what we have listed under Current Productions. The Hawai‘i Film Office only lists long-term projects, so you may also want to call production companies that are listed in the Hawai‘i Production Index (www.hawaiifilm.com)
Hiring Crew or Renting Equipment
Q: I’m bringing a job to Hawai‘i . How do I find local crew to hire and vendors?
A: You should look at the Hawai‘i Production Index (www.hawaiifilm.com) for crew and equipment rentals. This is the equivalent to the LA 411.
Q: I’m bidding a job. Can you give me crew rates and equipment rental rates?
A: It’s best to contact a local production manager to assist you with your bid. However, you can also use the Hawai‘i Production Index (www.hawaiifilm.com) to obtain this information. Call the unions directly for crew rates.
Q: What Unions govern Hawai‘i’s film industry and what are the requirements?
A: Hawai‘i has numerous theatrical and entertainment guild offices located on Oahu. For contact information regarding the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 665 (IATSE), Teamsters Hawai‘i Local 996, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260 (IBEW), Screen Actors Guild/AFTRA, and Musicians Association of Hawai‘i Local 677 (MAH) visit our webpage.
Q: I’m bringing in an international project. Is there someone who specializes in working with international projects?
A: Contact the Hawai‘i International Film Association who specialize in facilitating production needs of international productions.
Q: I’d like to reach out to local students or universities. Can you help me with that?
A: Hawai‘i has excellent digital media and film programs beginning in middle school through the University level.
University of Hawai‘i (UH) – Academy for Creative Media (http://www.hawaii.edu/acm/)
UH Leeward Community College – Digital Media (http://www.leeward.hawaii.edu/dmed)
UH Kap‘iolani Community College – New Media Arts (http://nma.kcc.hawaii.edu/ )
UH Hilo Community College (Big Island) – Digital Arts (http://hawaii.hawaii.edu/digitalmedia/home.html)
Hawai‘i Pacific University – Communication (http://www.hpu.edu/CHSS/Communication/Multimedia/index.html)