Filming Requests

News media interested in covering the Zoo should contact the Office of Communications at 202-633-3055.
Organizations and individuals interested in filming at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute need to complete the online Application for Filming at the Smithsonian Institution. Once the application has been completed, it should be submitted to the Office of Communications at

Providing the information as requested on the application gives reviewers an accurate picture of your project, which is used to determine if the project is appropriate for the Smithsonian and consistent with its mission and objectives. Smithsonian policies and procedures require a complete understanding of all aspects of a project before Zoo participation can be considered.

Each request to film is reviewed on an individual basis, using information from the application and through discussions between the Zoo's communications office and the filmmaker. The application also serves as the basis for preparing a contract.

To recover costs, the Smithsonian has a standard location fee schedule based on the length of time crews will spend in the Zoo or interviewing staff. Fees are subject to increase if staff participation or behind-the-scenes access is required. An additional perpetuity fee of $500 is applied to every filming contract.

Filming Fees

1-4 hours: $1,000
4-8 hours: $2,000
After 8 hours: $350 per each additional hour

The Smithsonian charges a $500 fee to use the recording in perpetuity; this fee is non-refundable.

Application Timeline

Once an application is received by the Office of Communications, it is sent to the Smithsonian Film Committee for review, a process that takes two to three weeks. The Committee then grants or denies permission to film.

Applications that are granted permission to film are then sent to the Smithsonian’s Office of Contracting. The drafting, review and finalization process takes an additional two weeks. In total, the application process takes approximately one month to complete.

Expedited Requests

The Smithsonian is unable to expedite requests. Rare exceptions may be made at the discretion of the Zoo and Smithsonian Film Committee.  Filmmakers are required to provide a certificate of insurance once the Committee has granted permission to film, but before to the contracting process. Smithsonian policy requires a fully-executed contract prior to filming taking place.