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Film Location: White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Written on September 25, 2017

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument is located in the northern Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico. The natural wonder is known for its rare white gypsum sand dunes, spectacular mountains backdrops, deep blue skies, stunning sunsets, and bright starlight nights. Wind and rain move the dunes throughout the year.

For nature photographers, White Sands National Monument is home to colourful wildflowers including the hedgehog cactus, prickly pear, and soaptree yucca. The monument is also rich in fauna. It is home to animals such as the kit fox, jackrabbit, and the bleached earless lizard.

White Sands has been featured in a long list of TV commercials, music videos, documentaries, TV shows, and feature films including Young Guns II, Transformers, Transformers 2, and Stargate Universe. The location is a popular destination for westerns, science fiction, and apocalyptic films.

A hard-packed road loops around to the vast dune fields. Some areas have boardwalks.

Alamogordo and Las Cruces are the closest cities to base crews and access services.

White Sands Film Permits

Permits are not required for personal use filming and photography, or for news media reporting breaking events.

Commercial film and photography permits are required for projects involving exclusive use of the location, professional crew and equipment setups including props, models, talent, and set dressings. Permits are required for access to areas normally closed to the visiting public.

Permits may be denied if they are deemed to potentially harm the location, create health or safety risks, create unreasonable burdens on staff, or disrupt other visitors use and enjoyment of the location.

For small-footprint shoots, allow at least 4 weeks for permits to be considered and processed. Larger footprint shoots ought to allow at least 6 weeks for location permits to be processed. A non-refundable application fee of $200.00 applies. For more information, contact the NPS directly.

Proof of US Certificate of Professional Liability insurance of at least $1 million is required before before you will be granted permission to film at White Sands National Monument.

Once the permit is approved, a mandatory safety briefing is required for all visiting crew.

Some small foot print projects may be eligible for fees to be waived. For all other projects, location fees and cost recovery fees will be determined on a case by case basis depending on the complexity of the project. A performance bond may also apply.

White Sands Missile Range surrounds the monument. For safety reasons, the monument is closed during missile range tests.

New Mexico Fixer, Service Producer, & Shooting Crew

Albuquerque, a 3.5hr drive from White Sands, is the closest major production centre where production service producers, fixers, directors, DoP’s, videographers, and stills photographers, are based. Contact us if you are looking for a New Mexico based crew to film at White Sands or any other locations around New Mexico.