Greater London Authority Headquarters, London courtesy of James Dewar

Filming in public spaces

Local authority

If you want to film on public land you will need permission from the appropriate local authority or council. They are responsible for public land, public buildings, roads and parking. The UK screen agencies can help you get in touch with the appropriate local authority contact.

Police

You will need the full co-operation of the local police force if you plan to film on a public highway or use special effects, explosives or fire arms (including replicas). You will also need permission to portray uniformed police officers or marked police vehicles on film.

You should inform the local police force in writing of any planned filming within its jurisdiction. The UK screen agencies can help you arrange this process.

Filming on public roads

Before filming on a public road you must contact the local police and the Highways Department of the local authority. Both will need to make sure that your plans are safe and pose no threat to road users. If you plan to stage stunts, a stunt co-ordinator should be involved in any planning discussions.

You will need details of the safety conditions covering any tracking vehicles you hire and also find out what permissions and rights clearances have been granted at the location – for example, are you entitled to film the signage on any commercial premises in the area?

Advice about permission and Rights clearances

If you film an actor inside a store or restaurant, you need written permission to use the location and also to show the chain’s name or trademark.

If you film outside a store or restaurant you do not need permission to show its name or trademark – however, if the location chosen is used to communicate a negative message in your film (for example, a film about ‘poisoned restaurant food’) you may risk legal proceedings.

You do not need to ask passers-by for permission to feature their faces in a film. Under UK law, the copyright of film shot in a public place resides with the filmmaker.