Some of South Africa’s most beautiful landscapes are protected as National Parks and Nature reserves. While film permits are issued regularly and provide a useful income stream to support the conservation efforts of these areas, film activities are strictly regulated to prevent any negative impact on eco-systems and wildlife. Film productions that want to use these beautiful areas as locations should be aware of various general regulations and restrictions before applying for a film permit.

Ecological Control Officers

Most permits require the presence of an ECO employed by the park or reserve at all times during filming to make sure that no damage or disturbance takes place. There will be an hourly fee for this, over and above the permit fees.

Entrance Fees

At most national parks the regular entrance fees or conservation fees are charged for each member of the film crew on top of the permit fees.

Noise levels

Noise should be kept to a minimum and generators should be sealed to reduce noise. No music is generally allowed unless an exception has been made for a specific permit.

Fire

No fires of any sort are permitted. In some cases a smoke machine may be allowed but this must be specified when applying for the permit.

Animals

Nature reserves have strict control of the bringing in of animals. As a rule no dogs or pets are allowed. If an animal is needed for filming, exceptions may be made under strictly controlled conditions, but there is usually an extra fee for this

Off-road driving

In general vehicles are required to stay on existing roads at all times. Off-road driving may be permitted in some areas but expect an extra fee for this.

Minimum disturbance

The main concern of parks and nature reserves is, of course, the conservation or plants and wildlife. Film activities should respect the resident wildlife at all times and avoid damaging or disturbing the natural environment. The area will be assessed after filming and any damage will be charged for.

Details of regulations vary according to the park or reserve and the sensitivity of the eco-system. If a film activity is considered to have a negative impact on the area a permit will not be granted, so it makes sense to consult an experienced local production company before applying for a permit. They will be able to advise on how best to plan filming so that it fits within the guidelines of a particular location, or suggest alternative, less environmentally-sensitive locations, where the higher impact film activities can more conveniently take place.