Film on Location at Seminole Tribe of Florida Big Cypress Indian Reservation
Multiple locations on the Big Cypress Indian Reservation offer beautiful site locations for filming. Popular sites include the reservation’s two tourist attractions, the Seminole Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum and Billie Swamp Safari.
The natural landscapes vary from swamplands, hardwood hammocks, bodies of water and cattle prairies, and a 2,200-acre preserve teems with a variety of animals that include wild hogs, zebra, ostriches, cracker cattle, nilgai, white-tail deer, eland, Asian water buffalo and bison. Some areas look like an African Serengeti or Asian rice fields.
Seminole tribal influences are showcased in two native villages with Seminole camps that depict how Seminoles once lived in chickees. These open structures have thatch palm roofs and cypress trees poles for support. Modified chickees are available for overnight accommodations inside Billie Swamp Safari on the edge of the swamp; these structures have closed sides.
At Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, Seminole exhibits and relics vary from dioramas of Seminole culture to modern-day art and hundreds of Seminole craft items that include baskets, dolls, patchwork clothing, beaded jewelry and tools used by tribal ancestors. Inside the living village, modern-day Seminole women demonstrate beading and basket weaving. Tribal members may be commissioned for craft demonstrations and interviews. Also, a cook chickee contains burning logs placed in the four directions; a fifth log is added as a means of communication for the people who lived in that camp.
Billie Swamp Safari offers airboat and swamp buggy rides and three shows: snake, animal and alligator wrestling. The snake show is held in an air-conditioned theater decorated with a swamp rustic décor with amphitheater style seating. The swamp critter show features a variety of animals – alligator snapping turtle, tamandua (lesser ant eater), small American alligator and more. Alligator wrestling includes wrangling an alligator out of waist-deep water followed by several demonstrational moves and educational facts about the creature.
Both of these Native American-owned properties have nature boardwalks surrounded by native flora and fauna.
Airboat rides take patrons through a scenic cypress dome view of Florida native wildlife, such as alligators, turtles and common birds found in the South Florida Everglades. The airboats seat 10 people and several are in inventory. Airboat filming is preferred before 11 a.m. so it does not affect park operations.
A swamp buggy is an open vehicle that sits high above the ground with a canvas top and large wheels. The eco-tour travels through a trail where a variety of animals roam freely and can be viewed very closely. These vehicles seat 30 and four are in stock.
A large area – referred to as the buffalo pasture – has amphitheater seating on a small inclined grassy area. There are a handful of open wood shelters in a lean-to fashion. This area was commonly used for war reenactments.
Site fees vary, depending on operational vehicle use and scenic areas. Site fees may be waived in trade for marketing and advertising the tourist attractions (decided on a case-by-case basis). Site inspection and filming permits are available through the Florida Seminole Tourism Department.