Commercial filming and photography

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) supports and encourages both private and commercial filming and photography on land and waters managed under the Conservation and Land Management Act 1984 (CALM Act land).

With an increasing awareness of the environment worldwide, there has been a corresponding increase in interest in filming and photography on CALM Act land. These lands and waters contain a wide range of features that are of interest to commercial filmmakers and photographers.

Commercial filming on CALM Act land can make a significant contribution towards helping to raise awareness of conservation issues and promoting the appreciation and use of parks and reserves. However, there is a need to ensure that the activities of those undertaking commercial filming do not damage the environment, conflict with the enjoyment of other users, incorrectly present information, impact on culture and heritage values or promote inappropriate behaviour.

The protection of natural, cultural, heritage and landscape values are key considerations when DBCA assesses applications for commercial filming. The way an area is portrayed in the final film product can impact these values. It is therefore important that filmmakers and photographers consult with DBCA before commercially filming on CALM Act land, and that there are procedures in place to ensure the protection of an area’s acknowledged values.

Commercial filming authorities

Regulation 108 of the Conservation and Land Management Regulations 2002 requires any person taking images or footage for commercial purposes on CALM Act land to obtain lawful authority from DBCA. Non-commercial/private photography does not normally require lawful authority.

Please see the Commercial filming and photography handbook for further information on when a filming authority is required.

How to apply

Should you require a commercial filming authority, please apply online using the Commercial Operator Licensing System.

A user guide on how to use the system to apply can be downloaded by clicking here: How to submit a commercial filming and photography application.

Additional approvals

If the proposed filming operation involves filming of marine fauna such as whales, killer whales, dolphins, dugongs, seals and whale sharks, the filming party must comply with separation distances as prescribed by the Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2018.

If you intend to film animals within prescribed separation distances and/or capture animals in order to film them, you may have the option of applying for a fauna disturbing (commercial interaction) licence. These licences are separate to a commercial filming authority and must be applied for through the DBCA Wildlife Protection Branch. Please note the option of obtaining a fauna disturbing licence is only applicable for certain types of commercial filming operations.

DBCA recognises that Aboriginal people have an ongoing connection to, and interest in the management of, these lands, waters and the flora and fauna they contain. DBCA acknowledges the right of Aboriginal people to express and maintain their culture and will liaise with Aboriginal people to help protect, conserve, and enhance cultural values across the State.

Where applicable, commercial filming applicants are required to provide written approval from the relevant Aboriginal traditional owner group for filming at Aboriginal cultural sites or filming of cultural material.

Please see the Commercial filming and photography handbook for further information and contact details.

Timeframe for approvals

To assist us in the proper assessment of commercial filming applications and to approve lawful authorities in reasonable time, DBCA requests that all proposals be submitted at least four (4) weeks prior to the expected filming dates. Please be advised that incomplete applications or applications submitted less than four (4) weeks before expected filming dates may not be approved by the proposed filming dates.