Planning a location shoot


Each year, MBARI is able to respond to a limited number of requests for location shoots for video productions that pertain specifically to MBARI research. Please review our Location-Shoot Guidelines (below) prior to contacting our office.

We typically need at least three weeks advance notice for location shoots; additional time may be required to coordinate shoots aboard our research vessels.

To request a location shoot at MBARI, please complete our online Media Request Form. If you are not able to use this form, you can send an email to

Note: MBARI requires a certificate of liability insurance and proof of worker’s compensation insurance for all production crews before they can shoot on site.

MBARI Location-Shoot Guidelines

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) is a non-profit private research organization. MBARI may grant permission for a production company to film or photograph MBARI facilities or vessels for commercial purposes under certain conditions as outlined in this document.

The project must be consistent with MBARI’s mission and educational goals, may not hinder operations, and may not detract from MBARI’s research activities.

Please note that a prerequisite for all projects is completion and execution by an authorized representative of the production company of MBARI’s Location Shoot Agreement, of which these Guidelines are an integral part. Please also note that MBARI reserves the absolute right to grant or deny permission to shoot and to determine the terms under which shooting will be permitted.

1. Advance Notice: At least three weeks advance notice is requested whenever possible.

2. Site Requirements: Whenever possible, a site tour and review of on-site requirements will be scheduled in advance of the shoot. If this is not possible, MBARI staff must review the production company’s requirements. The size of crew, number of talent and amount of equipment must be agreed upon prior to the shoot date.

3. Use of Film and Photographs: The production company may use film and photographs shot at MBARI only for the purpose stated in the Location Agreement. The company may sell its final product for broadcast by others but may not sell individual images shot at MBARI or provided by MBARI separate from its product. In addition, the company may not use images taken at or provided by MBARI in connection with productions which do not directly involve MBARI, without its prior written consent.

4. Trademarks: The name “Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute,” acronym “MBARI,” and its gulper eel logo are trademarks owned by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Permission is granted to use these trademarks in the company’s final product without alteration. Written permission must be obtained from MBARI in writing to use any of these trademarks in promotional or other materials related to the final product.

5. Script Review: MBARI reserves the right to approve or deny use of its name or image in any context and to review the scripts for all scenes involving MBARI for factual accuracy.

6. MBARI’s Ownership: All film and photographs shot by MBARI cameras on MBARI vessels and vehicles shall belong to MBARI. Any requests for MBARI vessels and vehicles footage must be arranged with the MBARI Communications Coordinator. MBARI will negotiate for this additional footage use in writing through a separate license agreement.

7. Company’s Ownership: Except as otherwise agreed in writing, all film and photographs shot by the production company shall belong to it.

8. Credits: The production company will acknowledge the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute should it use any film or photographs shot at MBARI.

9. Insurance: The production company shall carry a comprehensive general liability insurance policy covering its obligations under this agreement and having limits of least $1,000,000 per occurrence and $1,000,000 aggregate. The production company shall have MBARI named as an additional insured on the policy and shall deliver a certificate of insurance to MBARI prior to commencement of the shoot. The production company shall also carry workers’ compensation insurance as required by law.

10. Location Fees: Location fees may be charged. Fees vary according to such factors as whether the project is commercial or non-profit in origin, the intended market, the potential promotional value to MBARI, the extent to which rights are shared with MBARI, the high cost of ship operations, and special requirements by the production company.

11. Scheduling: MBARI shall not be responsible for cancellation or delay of a shoot because of weather, mechanical difficulties or any other reason and will not be liable for any costs incurred by the production company in connection with any cancellation or delay, such as wages of the film crew, equipment rental and the like. MBARI shall endeavor to reschedule a canceled shoot, subject to the availability of its facilities and vessels. Because MBARI is first and foremost a research institute, the requirements of its scientists and engineers will always take priority, and MBARI cannot guarantee that another time convenient to the production company will be available.

12. Safety Guidelines: During filming at MBARI facilities or onboard its vessels, the production company’s film crew will follow strict safety guidelines as established by the ship’s captain and/or MBARI’s safety director.

13. Underwater Filming: Due to safety concerns for the unique dangers posed by at-sea operations of tethered remotely operated vehicles, MBARI does not allow divers in the water with its vehicles for underwater filming.

14. Shipboard Authority: The ship’s captain is the ultimate authority onboard any MBARI vessel. The production company agrees that all its personnel will comply with all directions given by the captain.

15. MBARI Prerogatives: The production company agrees to make any changes to its filming or to discontinue filming if MBARI determines that the filming is disrupting its operations or that the potential for damage to people or to MBARI’s facilities or vessels exists.

16. Final Copies: One copy of the final production will be supplied to MBARI without charge for its historical archives and internal educational purposes.

17. Miscellaneous Policies: No smoking or alcohol consumption is allowed anywhere inside MBARI facilities or inside its vessels.

18. Location Filming Information: The production company may obtain information on permits or on location filming elsewhere in Monterey County by calling the Monterey County Film Commission at 831-646-0910 or at