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U.S.A – Alaska

Alaska Film & Photography Production Services & Camera Crews

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Alaska? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.

Filming in Alaska

For an introduction to shooting in Alaska see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.

Alaska Film Locations

Alaska is the largest and most sparsely populated state in the United States of America. It has a coastline longer than all the other states combined.

Alaska is best know for its otherworldly mountains, glaciers and their bright blue pools, volcanoes, forests, lakes, rivers, shorelines, icebergs, the Arctic Circle and Aurora Borealis.

Alaska’s spectacular wilderness also boasts fauna including whales, polar bears, grizzly bears, wolves, caribou, musk ox, reindeer, bald eagles, sea otters and sea lions.

The resource-rich state also offers industrial film locations including oil and gas production facilities, mines, sawmills, fishing trawlers and canneries.

Beyond mountaineering, Alaska also offers other activities such as dog sledding, ice fishing, hot springs, golfing, cruise ships, snow skiing and the Running of the Reindeer festival.

There are five regions in Alaska:

Southeast. The region home to the picturesque cities of Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan. Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States. Glacier Bay National Park has 16 active tidewater glaciers. Misty Fjords National Monument offers towering cliffs rising from pristine ocean channels. Farther west you have the Aleutian Islands, a collection of more than 300 small, volcanic islands make up this chain, which stretches over 1,200 miles (1,900 km) into the Pacific Ocean. Of note is the picturesque coastal community of Unalaska.

South Central. This region offers several looks reminiscent of other regions in Alaska. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park has 9 nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States. Other locations of interest include the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, Kenai Peninsula including the Kenai Fjords National Park, Prince William Sound, abandoned Kennecott Copper mine, the communities of Cordova, Valdez and Seward. McCarthy is an interesting former mining town. The unusual Dr. Seuss House is located in Willow. Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska and main entry point by air.

Southwest. Sparsely populated, most of the population lives along the coast in small communities such as Hooper Bay. Southwest Alaska is home to Kodiak Island’s Katmai National Park where you can find natural wonders such as the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. Katmai is also where you can find grizzly bears feeding in places such as Hallo Bay and Brooks Falls. Lake Clark National Park is another otherworldly location. One of the world’s largest deltas, The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, is in this part of Alaska. The remotely located Diomede Islands are divided between the United States an Russia.

Interior. Fairbanks is the only city in the region of what is mostly vast uninhabited wilderness of tundra, birch and black spruce forests and small native villages. Denali National Park, playground for mountaineers is home to North America’s highest peak, Denali and many glaciers including Ruth Glacier. Alaska’s Interior is one of the best locations on earth for viewing the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). The Dalton Highway runs from Fairbanks to Deadhorse. Igloo City is an interesting abandoned hotel shaped like an igloo.

North Slope. The North Slope is mostly tundra with small coastal cities such as Nome, Point Hope and Barrow (now known as Utqiagvik). The latter, located on the Arctic Ocean is the northernmost city in the United States. Ice masses remain in the ocean year-round. The North Slope is known for its oil reserves. This is where you will find the National Petroleum Reserve and the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is the largest National Wildlife Refuge in the United States and is home to over 180000 migratory caribou. Other parks in this region include the Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, Noatak National Preserve, Kobuk Valley National Park and the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes (an Alaskan oddity). The short summer gives bloom to a blanket of wildflowers stretching to the Arctic coast.

Alaska has hosted films including Star Trek (2009), Into The Wild (2007), Transformers (2007), Insomnia (2002), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), The Hunt for Red October (1990), and The Thing (1982). Alaska has also hosted many TV shows including Northern Exposure (1990-1995), Deadliest Catch (2005 – 2020), and Ice Road Truckers (2007-2017).

Alaska Film Location Permits

99% of land in Alaska is owned by the Federal government, State government and native peoples. Permitting for these properties is divided into:

United States Forest Service Property. Special use permits are required for commercial film and photography. Fees are based on the number of shoot days on National Forest System lands and the size of the film crew present on Federal land plus any costs incurred by the Forest Service (personnel, etc).

Bureau of Land Management Property. A permit is required for commercial filming. Professional stills photographers are allowed to photograph on public lands without permits and fees unless the shoot uses models / sets, or requires special access or takes place at a location that adds administrative costs.

National Park Service Property. A permit is required for commercial filming. Professional stills photographers are allowed to photograph on public lands without permits and fees unless the shoot uses models / sets, or requires special access or takes place at a location that adds administrative costs. There are four types of fees: Application Fee, Monitoring fee, Performance Bond and the Location Fee (depends on crew size for film or photography shoot).

United States Fish and Wildlife Service Property. Commercial film and photography requires a special use permit. There is a $100 administrative fee. A bond may be set to ensure compliance with the permit.

Alaska Department of Natural Resources Property. Commercial film and photography requires a permit. Fees depend on the specifics of the project.

Alaska Native Lands. Permission and fees are to be negotiated directly with the local indigenous regional or village land manager or media officer.

Please contact us for location specific information.

When To Shoot?

Alaska’s great size means the climate varies considerably by region:

The Southeast region receives considerably more rainfall than the rest of the state.

The South Central region has snow on the ground from October to April and is milder on the coast.

The Southwest region has a very windy Arctic climate with little rainfall.

Best times to film bears in Katmai National Park are as follows. November to May bears hibernate. May to July mother bears can be seen with cubs eating coastal grasses and clams. Their winter coats are still in good condition. July to August coastal flowers bloom and bears move inland toward the rivers for the start of the salmon run. Bears lose their old fur for the coming season. August to October the salmon run continues with the Coho salmon (bear-preferred) now heading up stream. Towards the end of this period fall colours come in and bears can be seen eating berries and old spawned salmon. By the time the storms roll in bears have grown their full winter coats.

The Interior has a subarctic climate with little rainfall, hot summers and very cold winters with snow on the ground from October to April. The Aurora Borealis is best photographed from September to March.

The North Slope has an arctic climate with long, very cold winters and short, cool summers. In the winter Barrow sees 65 days of darkness. Light, dry snow stays on the ground from September to May. The region experiences no sunset from 10th May to 2nd August and no sunrise from the 18th November to the 21st January.

Festivals and events of interest to filmmakers and photographers include:

• Tesoro Iron Dog Snowmobile Race in February.
• Iditarod dog sled race in March.
• The salmon run takes place from April to September depending on the location and species. Brown bears catching salmon can be filmed at Brooks Falls from June to September.

Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in the United States.

Unique Local Stories

Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.

If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.

If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.

Alaska Tax Incentives for Filming

Alaska does not currently offer a film incentive program.

Alaska Film Crew & Talent

Crews. Supporting Some local options exist.

Contact us if you are looking for an Anchorage, Juneau or Nome based director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew in Alaska.

Talent. Most residents are Caucasian but about 15% of Alaskans are indigenous belonging to Aluet, Athabascan, Eskimo, Eyak, Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian peoples. Movie character stereotypes include outdoorsmen living off the grid, oil industry workers, mountaineers, mushers, ice road truckers, fisherman, and bush pilots.

Alaska Film Equipment

Equipment. Standard camera, grip and lighting equipment available locally. More specialised equipment needs to be brought it.

Communications. Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.

Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.

For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.

Alaska Transport & Accommodation

Transportation. Alaska’s road system is limited and very few locations are accessible by road. Most locations are reached by air. Many coastal locations can be reached by sea. The Alaska Railroad is another option.

Accommodation. Please contact us for recommended film friendly hotels in Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks, Barrow and other areas of Alaska.

Final Notes

Safety. Alaska is a very safe and reliable place for foreign productions to shoot. See here for up to date travel advice.

Down Time. Go north during the warmer months. Head into nature and enjoy a few relaxing days of 24 hour sunlight.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in Alaska, please see below:

Hire Alaska Production Support & Shooting Crew

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Alaska, please contact us.

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Alaska, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.