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Hidden Gems: Bismarck, North Dakota

Posted by Kim Moseman on September 3, 2019

I’m guessing that when you think of a ‘hidden gem’ you don’t think of a city, right? Well here at Crews Control, we know value when we see it and we also know that the best cities to shoot in may not always be the most popular or well-known. Take Bismarck, North Dakota for example.


Bismarck is the capital of North Dakota. This city features the North Dakota Capitol Grounds with acres of lush grass and green areas, the Art Deco style Capitol Building and the North Dakota Heritage Center. Known as a site on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the home of the Dakota Zoo, Bismarck has much to offer any traveling producer looking for an energetic and nature-filled location for a shoot. We talked to Bismarck DP Dave Diebel about what you need to know about shooting in this city.

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There is not a specific permitting process to shoot in Bismarck, however common sense applies at any location. “It’s always a good idea to get a location release and if you think your shoot may cause undue concern or interfere with traffic—it’s best to contact local law enforcement beforehand,” Diebel said. You can learn more about permits in Bismarck here. Additionally, North Dakota has very cold winters and warm summers, so the best time to visit is in the fall or spring. Weather can be quite extreme in Bismarck and the city is known for heavy snowfall.

Best Shots:

Bismarck and Mandan are two adjacent cities on the banks of the Missouri River. “The river offers scenic views and waterfront parks and trails, the Lewis and Clark riverboat and a rail bridge dating back to the early 1900s,” Diebel said. The river valley provides ample outdoor shooting opportunities from sand dunes to densely forested areas. Chief Lookings Village in Bismarck provides an elevated view of the entire area. “The North Dakota Heritage Center has great natural light with expansive galleries and halls,” Diebel said.

There is also a rich Native American heritage in the area. Pow Wows with traditional dancing and vibrant regalia are hosted at the United Tribes Technical College in south Bismarck. This heritage has huge influence on the city and is worth capturing elements of on video.

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Famous Films:

Probably the most known movie to come out of North Dakota is Fargo. Most scenes were filmed in Minneapolis, but North Dakota did get it’s time to shine in the Paul Bunyan statue shots. Other films shot in parts of North Dakota include American Honey, Buck Riviera, and Jesus Camp. The 2001 film Wooly Boys was produced and funded by the North Dakota government to drive tourism to the state.

Looking for a “hidden gem” of a location for your next video shoot? You can trust Crews Control to get you the best local crew with the equipment you need. Just click here for a free quote!

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