‘House of Cards’ Film Crew Hits National Mall on Saturday

Could more filming be coming to the Capitol grounds? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Could more filming be coming to the Capitol grounds? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted August 8, 2014 at 10:25am

“House of Cards” is filming around the National Mall on Saturday, according to the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development.  

It’s unlikely fans of the wildly popular Netflix series will spot stars Kevin Spacey or Robin Wright during the 10-hour set. Crews will be “shooting ‘drive-bys’, b-roll, and a mock-motorcade scene,” says a notice posted on the agency’s site.  

Local officials would love to have the show, which shoots most of its scenes in Baltimore and other areas, do more production in the District, but filming in D.C. has its challenges — especially on the Capitol grounds. Currently, commercial filming is only permitted on Union Square. The 11-acre swath, just below the west side of the Capitol, is part of the plaza that includes the Reflecting Pool and is under the jurisdiction of Capitol Police and the Architect of the Capitol.  

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., wants to expand access to the many iconic vantage points on campus. Earlier this year, she introduced a bill that would allow allow commercial film and photography crews to apply for permits for exterior shots of the Capitol and grounds.  

“In today’s world, where many societies are facing upheavals, our country, with an exemplary model of democracy, should be the first to encourage commercial photography and filming to record various scenes of the legislature, which symbolizes U.S. democracy at work,” Norton said in March when she introduced the measure.  

Capitol Police would have the the discretion, depending on the circumstances in and around the Capitol, to issue permits and the authority to charge a fee to cover any costs incurred.  

“No policy or security reason exists to justify the limit of commercial filming and photography of the Capitol complex to only one location, Union Square, particularly considering that permits are necessary,” Norton said. “The blanket selection of only one location for such filming raises serious First Amendment issues.”  

For filmmakers who have trouble capturing b-roll of the iconic building and monuments, the change would likely be welcome. It could be a financial boost for the city, and the D.C. Council has talked about offering financial incentives to lure in more productions, as states all over the country do.  

Norton says she has separately met with AOC, the Senate sergeant-at-arms, the House deputy sergeant-at-arms, Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine, and the heads of the National Park Service and the Trust for the National Mall on the issue, plus local officials.  

The measure is stalled at the moment, with no co-sponsors and no legislative action scheduled, so the “House of Cards” motorcade might be the best bet for finding Hollywood near Capitol Hill anytime soon.  

The shoot begins at noon on Saturday. More details on locations and parking can be found on the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development site.