Filming and Photography Policy

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

It is the policy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to allow filming and photography in all sites and museums under its control. As the steward of these sites, held in trust for the benefit of the people of Illinois, the IHPA has formulated the following policy and guidelines to manage all filming and photography activities. These guidelines apply to all filming and photography activities conducted on property owned or controlled by the IHPA and are meant to ensure that:

  • historical and natural resources are protected from damage.
  • visitors, IDNR staff, and film personnel are kept safe.
  • the public's access to historic sites is not compromised.
  • the guidelines are applied consistently.

Special conditions at individual sites or museums may require additional guidelines to ensure the protection of resources or safety of staff and the public.

Permit Guidelines

No Permit Required:

Personal Filming and photography for personal purposes are encouraged to enhance visitor enjoyment. Both are generally allowed without special permission, except as prohibited or limited at a particular site. Personal filming and photography must take place during normal public hours and use only hand-carried equipment. No professional props or sets, actors or models, supplemental lighting, or specialized large motorized equipment can be used. All personal photography, both still and video, is subject to the direction of site and museum staff. Any activity that interferes with the use, operation, or enjoyment of the site can be limited or prohibited by site staff.

Breaking News. No permit is required for the coverage of breaking news by print and broadcast news media. Breaking news is an event that cannot be covered at any other time or at any other location. Media staff covering breaking news may not disrupt visitors, damage resources, or compromise public health or safety regulations.

Filming for other news media including magazines, editorials, features, live broadcasts not intended to cover breaking news, and delayed broadcast programs may require a permit.

Permit Required:

The types of filming and photography that generally require a permit include, but are not limited to, documentaries, public service announcements, local promotional pieces, student work, and all work for profit or sale. Examples of undertakings requiring a permit include projects that:

  • advertise products or services.
  • use talent, models, props, crews or sets.
  • have the potential to disrupt site activities or visitors.
  • use more than just hand-carried equipment.
  • request access to closed or restricted areas.
  • request access outside of normal public hours.
  • are a potential risk to safety or resources.

Certain permit conditions may be waived if the project is being completed in conjunction with the IDNR as a partner, or the IDNR realizes a direct marketing benefit. Even if the permit requirement is waived, insurance requirements must be met.

The mission of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is to collect, preserve, interpret, and communicate the diverse heritage of Illinois and to educate the public by providing access to historic resources in the state.

Student Photography

Student photography is carried out to educate those learning photographic methods.
A letter certifying that the person or group is filming to satisfy a specific course requirement is required. Depending upon the complexity of the student project, certain permit requirements may be waived. The insurance requirement cannot be waived. Because students may find it difficult to obtain insurance, the permit may be issued to the school providing the insurance.


All applications for filming in IDNR historic sites and museums must be made at least 30 days prior to the expected beginning date. Major motion pictures may require a longer application period due to the complexity of analyzing the impact of the project. An application request does not ensure that a permit will be granted. If issued, a permit is not assignable or transferable to any other person or entity. Any changes must be made and approved in writing and agreed upon by the IDNR. Contact the address below for application and contract.

Prohibited Activities

Only IDNR staff is authorized to move, touch, clean, or in any way alter artifacts, structures, reproductions, or building fabric. Some activities are incompatible with the duty of the IDNR to protect its resources and the safety of its staff and visitors. Prohibited activities are those that

  • alter, damage, or remove any resource for any reason.
  • involve aerial filming.
  • involve any smoking in buildings.
  • include any nudity.
  • use any type of pyrotechnics.
Restricted Activities

Given the potential for damage to resources or harm to visitors, staff, and crew, the following activities and equipment must be approved in advance on a case-by-case basis. Approval will depend upon the specific location, time of year, time of day, and other factors particular to each site and each project. When completing the permit application form, provide as much detailed information as possible about the use of the following restricted activities and equipment:

  • Use of minors
  • Use of animals
  • Discharge of blank ammunition and weapons
  • Use of vehicles off established roads and parking areas
  • Stunts
  • Loud or amplified music or sounds
  • Large sets and props
  • Fire
  • Filming inside IDNR work areas
  • Foggers
  • Large crowd scenes
  • Generators
  • Large or heavy vehicles

The permit holder is required to adhere to all federal, state, and local standards, regulations, rules, ordinances, and statutes including safety, fire, and vehicle operation. In partnership with all Illinoisans, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will function as the leading steward of Illinois' heritage and Abraham Lincoln's legacy. Historic places and materials will be widely valued as irreplaceable resources that contribute to this state's heritage, our economy, our neighborhoods, and who we are as Illinoisans. The IDNR will work with citizens, individually or in groups, to collect, preserve, and disseminate Illinois history so that current and future generations will possess a greater understanding and appreciation of our shared heritage in all its variations.

Insurance, Liability & Indemnity Insurance

Occurrence-type general liability insurance is required for any filming activity requiring a permit. An insurance certificate proving coverage must identify the production company by name and business address. The State of Illinois must be named "additional insured" on the certificate. A copy of the certificate of insurance must be attached to the filming permit application when it is submitted for consideration. A request for a filming and photography permit may be denied if there is inadequate proof of insurance. Personal or homeowners liability insurance is not acceptable. The minimum coverage amounts are

  • Bodily Injury: $500,000 per person per occurrence, and $1,000,000 aggregate per occurrence
  • Property Damage: $1,000,000 aggregate per occurrence

As stated in the student photography section, because students may find it difficult to obtain insurance, the permit may be issued to the school providing the insurance.


If a permit is granted, the permit holder agrees to assume, without limitation, all risk of loss and all liabilities, demands, claims, suits, losses, damages, causes of action, fines or judgments, including costs, attorneys' and witnesses' fees, and expenses incident thereto, relating to bodily injuries to persons (including death) and for loss of, damage to, or destruction of real and/or tangible personal property (including property of the State) resulting from the negligence or misconduct of permit holder, its employees, agents, contractors, or subcontractors in the performance under the permit.


The permit holder uses all facilities at its own risk and agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the State of Illinois and the IDNR, its officers, employees, and agents (appointed and elected) and volunteers from any and all costs, expenses, losses, claims, damages, liabilities, settlements, and judgments, including reasonable value of the time spent by the Attorney General's Office, and the costs and expenses and reasonable attorneys' fees of other counsel required to defend the State of Illinois.

Performance Bond

After evaluation of the permit application, a refundable performance bond may be required for projects that have a high potential for resource damage. The bond amount will be determined by estimating costs of monitoring and potential restoration. The bond or its remainder will be released when on-site historic site or museum staff have determined that the project is complete and any necessary clean-up and restoration is finalized.


All filming and photography and related activities requiring a permit must be supervised by an IDNR employee or IDNR-designated monitor. The degree of monitoring and number of monitors required will be determined by the IDNR after analyzing the size and complexity of the proposed project. This monitoring may incur overtime and other costs that must be paid by the permit holder. A permit may be denied if the supervisory requirements for the proposed project will place unreasonable burdens on staff, regardless of the applicant's willingness or ability to pay.


A copy of the script and detailed treatment of all activity to be conducted at IDNR sites must be submitted in advance with the filming and photography permit application to determine the scope of the project, operational impact, and the likelihood of resource damage. The script and treatment will be used only for permit evaluation and will be kept confidential.

IDNR Equipment

IDNR equipment is not available for loan or rent.


All areas impacted by the project are to be cleared of all equipment and trash and returned to original condition to the satisfaction of site staff. All trash and debris must be removed and disposed of at the end of each day of the project. No IDNR trash receptacles may be used. It is the responsibility of the permit holder to notify all of its contractors and subcontractors of the clean-up rules.

Credit Line & Logo

The suggested format for credit lines is:
David Davis Mansion State Historic Site
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
State of Illinois
Written permission from the Director of the IDNR is required to use the IDNR logo. Incidental filming of the logo, such as on an employee uniform, a state vehicle, or on an IDNR sign, is acceptable.


The IDNR makes no representation as to the ownership of any materials or associated intellectual property rights in any IDNR sites or museums. Certain materials may be protected by copyright or other right controlled by a third party. The permit holder assumes all responsibility for determining these rights and obtaining all necessary permissions.

Governing Law

This permit shall be governed by the laws of the State of Illinois and the copyright laws of the United States of America.


Hourly and daily fees are listed below. The daily rates are for a 12-hour day. The hourly fee will be charged, in full-hour increments, after 12 hours. Higher fees will be negotiated for all project types (commercial, not for profit, and student), if it is determined that the proposed undertaking will cause an exceptional degree of disruption or potential for harm to the site. As noted under Supervision, full reimbursement to IDNR will be required for project monitors, additional staff time necessary to accommodate the project, overtime, and any other costs incurred by IDNR because of the project. Fees must be paid in advance and are due at least five days before filming begins. They are to be paid by certified check or money order.


The permit holder must furnish to the IDNR a complete copy of the finished project for archival purposes. The IDNR reserves the right to document, through filming, photography, or any other means it deems appropriate, any project conducted on property it owns or controls.


Permits may be terminated with little notice in the case of unforeseen emergencies, disasters, or events both natural and man-made. The return of unused fees will be made on a case-by-case basis. Non-compliance with any permit condition or making false or misleading statements to obtain a permit will result in revocation of the permit and suspension or termination of activities at any time, with no notice, no liability, and no refund of fees. The IDNR is not responsible for any inaccurate information provided by location scouts or their representatives.

Additional Requirements

The IDNR reserves the right to add any additional requirements and guidelines to the permit necessary to protect resources and ensure safety. Requests to substantially alter or amend the policy for especially large or complex projects must be approved in advance by the IDNR Board of Trustees.

Hourly Rates

Still Filming
Interior $120 $350
Exterior $80 $160

Not for Profit
Interior $40 $80
Exterior $20 $40

Interior $15 $25
Exterior $10 $15

Daily Rates
Still Filming
Interior $750 $2000
Exterior $500 $1000

Not for Profit
Interior $250 $500
Exterior $100 $250

Interior $15 $25
Exterior $10 $15


1 Old State Capitol Plaza
Springfield, IL 62701-1512

David Davis Mansion

1000 Monroe Drive
Bloomington, Illinois 61701

Contact Us

Phone: (309) 828-1084
Email: [email protected]

Hours of Operation

Wednesday - Saturday
9am - 4pm