While we don’t have a formal film permitting system in the NWT permits, proof of insurance and documented permissions may be needed if crews are planning to film in specific jurisdications, on traditional land; publically owned land or property; protected areas or historical sites; territorial highways, ice roads or airports; or observing wildlife.
The NWT Film Commission is here to help production teams navigate those cases, and guide you through any regional and municipal filming requirements that may be needed for your project. Please contact the office of the Film Commissioner if you need assistance.
Filming in the NWT During COVID
The risk of spreading Covid-19 remains high. At this time, the NWT’s borders remain closed to non-residents by order of the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO), except in special circumstances for which official exemptions must be obtained.
Many film organizations worldwide have now published general guidelines for reducing the spread of Covid-19 during screen-based production. The Canadian Media Producers Association has compiled a list of how jurisdictions across the country are proceeding, available at https://cmpa.ca/covid-19/resuming-production/ and we encourage all of our clients to review these practices.
Below you will find information about filming in the NWT during the pandemic, compiled by the NWT Film Commission from official sources with our industry and stakeholders in mind.
There is no guidance from the CPHO specifically tailored to filming activities, but you and your crew are still bound by the public health orders. You are expected to adhere to any restrictions regarding indoor and outdoor gatherings, social distancing, surface disinfection and mask-use so that everyone is as safe as possible.
If you are bringing in crew or performers from outside the territory, the same rules apply to them as any other incoming worker. Their employer (you) must prepare and file an exemption application and an isolation plan with ProtectNWT.
To date, the NWTFC is not aware of any media workers who have been granted exemptions, except in the case of journalism. Even if you are a small production with a volunteer crew, consider your set a workplace and your crew as employees, and consider it your obligation to keep them safe.
The territorial borders are currently closed to non-essential workers and leisure travelers except in specific circumstances.
Those seeking entry to the NWT may apply ProtectNWT for an exemption to the public health order(s). It is our understanding that they will consider exemptions up to 6 weeks in advance of the desired entry date. However, to date, the NWTFC is not aware of any exemptions being granted to media workers except in the case of journalism.
Workers who apply and are granted entry into the Territory would be bound by the territorial public health orders including isolation requirements in addition to all other permitting requirements for shooting in the NWT (e.g. wildlife permits, parks permits, or consent from community organizations, etc).
The NWTFC is pleased to discuss your plans with you to determine how they might be carried out under the pandemic-related restrictions. For official information on how the public health orders apply to you, contact ProtectNWT at email@example.com or call 8-1-1 (in NWT only) or 1-833-378-8297 8 AM to 8 PM, 7 days a week. For the most up-to-date information on travel restrictions, visit https://www.gov.nt.ca/covid-19/en/services/travel-isolation
Filming in Yellowknife
Production crews will need a filming license to shoot on municipally-owned land in Yellowknife. The Department of Communications and Economic Development is responsible for licensing and Production Information Form applications need to be received 10 business days before the filming start date.
Filming Guidelines, Filming License Agreement and Hold Harmless Agreement offer more information on filming in Yellowknife.
Filming in Inuvik
The Town of Inuvik has a filming and photography policy for the community which is free of charge.If you are interested in filming in Inuvik, the Town of Inuvik's Tourism & Economic Development Department can provide assistance with questions and applications requests. For more information, please refer to:
Filming in the Gwich'in Settlement Region
(Fort McPherson, Tsiigehtchic, Aklavik)
Filming in Tuktoyaktuk
The Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk has a filming and photography policy for the community. Production teams interested in shooting in the hamlet need to send all inquiries and applications to the Senior Administrative Officer, or the Manager of Community and Recreation Programs.
The policy’s definition of ‘land’ includes roads and right of ways, facilities, parks and public spaces. The full terms of the policy, including application requirements, are outlined in Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk Filming Policy.
Filming on Traditional Land & Indigenous Communities
If you’re thinking about filming on traditional lands in the NWT, please read our Indigenous Land information guideline, which includes a list of NWT communities as well as regional contact information.
If you’re thinking about filming on traditional lands in the NWT, please read our Indigenous Land information guidelines, which include a list of NWT communities as well as regional contact information.
You can also refer to On-Screen Protocols & Pathways, an information-rich media production guide to working with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. It was created for use by screen-storytellers and production companies wishing to feature First Nations, Métis or Inuit people in their films, television programs and digital media content. The document also highlights rules around including content or concepts like traditional or contemporary cultures, knowledge or intellectual property in their projects.
Wildlife Observation Permits may be needed if you plan to film or interact with big game species like caribou, wolves, muskox or other wildlife in the NWT. More information is available from the NWT’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
If you are surveying wildlife from an aircraft, please:
- do not fly below 1,000 feet (304.8 metres);
- obey Transport Canada regulations;
- find out where outfitter camps are located and avoid them during hunting season;
- avoid barren-ground caribou calving grounds during calving season;
- do not take-off or land in a calving area during calving season;
- do not chase or harass wildlife by flying too close; and
- respect our wildlife - keep to a safe altitude.
Flying close enough to an animal so that it runs away is too close!
Brochure: Flying Low? Think Again...
Filming in National Parks
Parks Canada issues permits to production teams interested in filming in national parks. A film/photography permit must be received to Parks Canada ten days prior to production. The permit may include filming conditions and any additional requirements needed, before production can start.
Filming in Territorial Parks
Filming in Territorial Protected Areas
Filming within a territorial protected area may require a Protected Areas Permit, as this activity must not substantially alter or substantially diminish the biodiversity, ecological integrity or cultural continuity of that protected area. The requirements for Protected Areas Permits will be included within Regulations to be created under the GNWT’s new Protected Areas Act. In the interim, please contact the Conservation Planning and Implementation Unit at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ConservationPlanning@gov.nt.ca) to obtain advice on filming in territorial protected areas.
Filming with Drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)
In 2019, Transport Canada published new rules for flying drones in Canada. The new rules and laws governing UAV flights is now in effect.
Transport Canada outlines the required rules to fly a drone in its Drone Safety infographic.
All pilots of drones that weigh between 250 g and 25 kg must get a drone pilot certificate.
Pilots conducting basic operations need a Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations.
Pilots conducting advanced operations need a Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations.
All drones that weigh between 250 g and 25 kg must be registered with Transport Canada. Pilots must mark their drones with their registration number before they fly.
Filming on Public Highways, Ice and Winter Roads, Airports and Ferries
The Department of Infrastructure requires permits for all production on public highways, ice and winter roads, airports, and ferries in the NWT. Applications need to be received 10 business days before filming starts, and should outline the scope of the project, including locations and dates of filming. The permit may include filming conditions and any additional requirements needed, before production can start.
Through the application process, the Department of Infrastructure can:
- Provide details on conditions and requirements
- Provide advice on film/photography opportunities and locations
- Assist with arranging interviews with department staff if needed
If you’re thinking about filming in any of these areas, please email the Department of Infrastructure for more information.