BLM Sanctioned.

We’re all permitted up and nearly ready to deliver.
One of the delays in delivering our latest video was that the laws overseeing public lands had changed in between our 1995 video shoot and the more recent one in 2009. President Bush signed into law new rules to help BLM recover feed for certain uses of public land. One of these uses that now required permit fees and more was videotaping. Until we secured a permit, we would not be allowed to offer our video for sale to the public…

Well, we took issue with the fact that we drove up the Dalton Highway, a road administered by the Alaska State Highway System which allows, and even encourages its use as a scenic highway, where people may shoot stills and video. It even encourages you to stop and shoot:

Seize a unique photo opportunity at the Arctic Circle BLM Wayside in front of the sign displaying N 66° 33’W 150° 48. In layman’s terms, a place where the sun doesn’t set on summer solstice and doesn’t rise on winter solstice.

There’s no mention that BLM won’t let you offer any video you have for sale unless you get a permit. Actually, that’s not quite right. If you brought two busloads of makeup artists, models, and still photographers setting up lights, stands, tripods, and stomping all over the delicate tundra in the BLM preserve for a month, you would not need a permit because still photography is exempt. You could make a video of your slide show and sell that with no problem.

On the other hand, if you are a father and son team, and one drives up the road while the other sits in the passenger seat and shoots video. Stopping at each of the gas stations, way points, visitor centers, etc, to get a few minutes of footage at each, and you make it from Fairbanks to Deadhorse in 2 days, you (I mean, we) need to pay hundreds of dollars for a permit. Because the camera is different. No matter if our ecological footprint and damage to BLM lands was miniscule. No matter if 99% of the time you were on state highway (right of way) and private property (Coldfoot camp, etc.), you still owe BLM money for a permit so they can properly monitor what goes on.

Now wait. Think about that. We finished paying for this permit in 2011 and received our permit. But the shoot was in 2009. So what services did BLM provide to our actual production? What monitoring and assessment? Those are good questions that we can’t answer. Alaska BLM looked at our situation, and the fact that the event happened in the past, and made adjustments to what they could have charged us. We are thankful that they didn’t charge us a per-day rate, nor did they charge fees or fines for not securing a permit in the first place. We figure this cut the potential cost of the permit in half. We have nothing against the people at BLM. They are doing their best to follow the underlying intent of a flawed law that bases fees on the technical difference between a still and a video camera, and not on impact to the BLM lands. That method of assessing fees is just wrong. The goal of the law, to make activity that profits from the land give money back to the land, makes a lot of sense and we have no problem with that. The fees should be based on what impact the production had on the land, what it took from the land, and give something back to the land.

So several hundred dollars later, we have our permit and approval from BLM to sell the Dalton Highway 2010 video to you. We apologize for the delay but we completely stopped production because of this snafu (fubar) and even started on a second version of the video using only still photographs- something which would have required no fees. But after we began, we realized that stills just do not capture the sweeping grandeur of the Alaskan wilds. So we called state & national offices, wrote various representatives and sought some common / better judgement in our case. Adjustments were made. Costs were paid. Now the video can be played. Well, soon anyway. Music is being laid in now and the DVD with an HD version of the video and some additional behind the scenes clips will be available in Spring 2012.

This product truly is Made in Alaska and is thusly being made on “Alaska time.”

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