Government shutdown calls 'cut' on Hollywood filming in national forests

Yet another industry that relies on our public lands has fallen victim to the government shutdown. While Forest Service workers are furloughed, Hollywood filmmakers are unable to secure permits for filming in national forests, which are frequently used in the filming of movies, commercials and television shows. 

"You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and the Angeles National Forest, our San Gabriel Mountains, won’t be able to play a leading role in t.v. commercials, movies and shows as long as this government shutdown continues," said Daniel Rossman of The Wilderness Society's California office.

With its steep, dramatic mountain highways and picturesque forests, the Angeles forest often plays a leading role in commercials, movies and television projects.

"If you take a close look at some of those auto commercials you see, there's a good chance that the cars cruising along hairpin turns were shot in the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles," Rossman explained. 

At least one car commercial project has been stalled in the Angeles Forest, according to Southern California Public Radio, KPCC

In September, a dozen filming permits were issued for the Angeles National Forest in southern California, according to FilmLA, the nonprofit that handles film permits for Los Angeles County. Since the Angeles National Forest normally issues more than 160 permits per year, it's logical to assume that several projects in that forest alone have been stalled since the shutdown began on Oct. 1

The permit halt comes at a time when counties and states look to lucrative filming fees and the economic boost of commercial film projects. 

Film projects on our national parks would also be potentially at risk. While it's unclear at this time if any movie or television projects were ongoing at any national parks at the time of the government shutdown, we do know that all national parks are closed to the public. Park Service staff are furloughed with the exception of small numbers of emergency and other critical staff. 

Stalled filming is only one part of a massive economic impact caused by the closure national parks and national forest facilities.  The impacts to local economies and recreation-related businesses has been devastating, with many small businesses in gateway towns facing layoffs of bankruptcy, while larger resorts and lodges at the national parks report losing millions of dollars per day. 

While the national forests near Los Angeles are used most frequently by Hollywood, national forests throughout the country have played the backdrop for numerous films. Those include classics like True Grit (Inyo National Forest, Calif.) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Black Hills National Forest, Wyoming) as well as modern blockbusters like The Hunger Games (Pisgah National Forest, N.C.) and the 2013 Johnny Depp version of The Lone Ranger (Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico). Recent television shows filmed in our forests include Breaking Bad, which was partially shot in the Cibolla National Forest near Albuquerque, N.M. 

Photo Gallery: 12 blockbuster movies filmed in national forests

1) The Hunger Games - Pisgah National Forest, N.C.

Also filmed in the Pisgah: The Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis, 1992.  Photo by Terry Tyson, flickr. 


 2. A River Runs Through It - Gallatin National Forest, Montana

Shot in the Gallatin National Forest in 1992, A River Runs Through It, starring Brad Pitt, is the famed story of two sons living and working on Montana's Blackfoot River. Photo by Cliff Muller, flickr. 


3. Valkyrie - San Bernardino National Forest, southern California

A number of movies have been filmed in the San Bernardino National Forest, where beauty and a close proximity to Los Angeles make for great filming. Scenes for Valkyrie, the historical Nazi Germany film starring Tom Cruise were filmed  here, as well as many other movies going back to classics like Gone with the Wind.

Other Movies filmed in the San Bernadino: Gone with the Wind, 1939; Lassie Come Home, 1943; The Yearling 1946; Shane 1953; Creature from the Black Lagoon, 1954; Old Yeller, 1957; The Love Bug, 1968; Paint Your Wagon, 1969; War Games, 1983; The American President 1995; City of Angels, 1998; The Parent Trap, 1998; The Insider, 1999; Dr. Doolittle, 2001; Mr Deeds, 2002; Next, 2007; Valkyrie, 2008. 

Photo by Jeff Hester, flickr


4. The Thing - Tongass National Forest, Alaska panhandle

The science fiction thrill-ride The Thing was shot in the Tongass in 1982. Photo by GilFoto, flickr.  


5. Winged Migration - Tonto National Forest, northwest of Phoenix, Arizona

The Tonto National Forest was used in the filming of the 2011 documentary Winged Migration, which captured the amazing migration patterns of birds. 

Other movies filmed in the Tonto: How the West Was Won, the epic western filmed in 1962. Photo by NOAA Library


6. The Lone Ranger, 2013 - Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico

Other movies filmed in the Tonto include: 3:10 to Yuma, 2007, starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale; The Milagro Beanfield War, 1988. 

Photo by: Razzumitos, flickr


7. Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Black Hills National Forest, northeast Wyoming

While the most famous scene from Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters may be at Devil's Tower National Monument, other scenes in the 1977 science fiction movie were shot within the Black Hills National Forest in nearby northeast, Wyoming.

Other movies filmed in the Black Hills National Forest: Deadword  '76, 1965;  Dances with Wolves, 1990; Hidalgo, 2004. 

Photo by lobstah, 1977, flickr


8. Star Trek: First Contact, 1996 - Angeles National Forest, southern California

Other movies filmed in Angeles National Forest: Naked Gun 33 1/3:The Final Insult, 1994. Photo by Renett Stowe


9. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, 1989 - Coconino National Forest, near Flagstaff Arizona

Other Movies filmed in the Coconino: The Rounders, 1965; Movin’ On: Landslide, 1975; Comes a Horseman, 1978; Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, 1989; Hard Hunted, 1992; Sasquatch Mountain, 2006; Holbrook, 2011. Photo by mrdonduck, flickr.


10. How the West Was Won - Inyo National Forest, central California

The Inyo in California's Sierra Nevada is another national forest that has provided the gorgeous scenery for more than a few films, including a number of classics, such as the epic western How the West Was Won, filmed there in 1962. 

Other movies filmed in the Inyo: The Return of Frank James, 1940; My Pal Trigger, 1946; Silver River, 1948; Frenchie 1950; Night Passage 1957; How the West Was Won, 1962; Nevada Smith, 1966; True Grit, 1969; Shout Out, 1971; High Plains Drifter, 1972; Joe Kidd, 1972; The Other Side of the Mountain, 1975; The Grizzly and the Treasure, 1975; First Monday in October, 1981; For the Boys, 1991; Big Girls Don't Cry ...They Get Even, 1992; Sleep in Heavenly Peace, 2007. 

Photo by Stillthedudeabides, flickr


11. Halloween 5 - Wasatch-Cache National Forest, northeastern Utah 

Movies filmed in the Wasatch-Cache: Halloween 5, 1989; Mountain Charlie, 1982; Baker's Hawk, 1976. Photo by Ryan Grove, flickr.


12.  ¡Three Amigos! - Coronado National Forest, Arizona

The Coronodo provided backdrop to the 1986 comedy starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. Other movies filmed in the Coronado: Hombre, 1967; Tom Horn, 1980. 

Photo by K e v i n, flickr


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Government shutdown FAQs

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