Advice for small crews
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If you are less than five people, including participants and actors, you count as a small crew and the procedure for filming in London is quite straightforward.
Once you have indentified the areas you wish to film at, you need to contact the relevant Borough Film Officer to advise them of your filming.
If you are using a handheld camera and your filming will not cause an obstruction then there is no restriction to filming on London’s public highway. In some boroughs this also extends to small crews with a tripod. No licence or any form of official permission is required.
Common law rights allow users of public highways to “pass and re-pass ... and to make reasonable use of it”. Section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 restricts these rights where the use of the highway causes an “obstruction” to other users rights of free passage. If you are considered to be causing an obstruction then there is a risk that you will be stopped from filming.
If you think you are likely to cause an obstruction then you need to apply to film via the appropriate Local Authority, however we strongly recommend that you always inform the relevant Borough Film Service if you are filming on their streets. If the local authority is not aware that you will be filming in the area then you can be asked to stop.
If a member of the public complains and you don't have permission to film, then you may be asked to move on by police. Some Local Authorities provide Notices of No Objection for small crew filming.
Notices of no objection
Some Authorities offer the option to obtain a Notice of No Objection — essentially an informal letter confirming that, based on the information you've provided, the Local Authority has no objection to the filming going ahead.
Not all boroughs offer these Notices; with those that do, some provide them free of charge and others charge between £25-£100. In addition to providing you with the document some Local Authority Film Officer will check for any works in the area that might affect your shoot, and will notify the local police for you, if necessary.
Be aware that this notice does not provide a carte blanche. If your filming creates an unforeseen obstruction you can still be forced by the police to move on.
All crews using a tripod to film in the boroughs of Westminster and City of London must obtain a Notice of No Objection. Applications for small crews need to be made with a minimum of three days notice. Productions using handheld equipment do not need to obtain a Notice.
Informing Transport for London
If the road you would like to film on has a double or single red line then it is not managed by a borough and you need to approach Transport for London Streets Traffic Control Centre for either a notice of no objection or a permit ahead of filming.
Small crews of five or less using a handheld camera need to apply a minimum of three days before filming is due to start. You are unlikely to be charged a fee.
Please contact email@example.com or 020 3054 3039 for further information
Visit the TFL website for a list of the roads they cover, and application forms
Popular landmarks and private locations
To film in private locations such as residential properties, you will need to apply directly to the property owner.
If you are filming in a flat or on a housing estate it may be owned by a Housing Association or council and you will need to contact ALL relevant parties.
Unsure who owns a location? Search the Film London Directory or contact our locations team: firstname.lastname@example.org
With any private location or interior (including private streets, parks and markets) you will be dealing with Location Representatives directly and will require permission.
If you are shooting around specific London Landmarks, you will find it useful to refer to our Popular Locations & Camera Position Maps.
These are comprehensive and downloadable PDF's, identifying exactly the camera angle you may be considering and who you need to make direct contact with. This is vital as there are areas of public access that are privately managed.
Filming the exterior of a building does not infringe its copyright. This means that you do not need copyright from the building's owner to film its exterior but you may need to get permission from the relevant authority or property owner based on where you have physically placed your camera in order to shoot.
A building could also be considered to represent an individual, company or institution so you should be careful not to use this association to either endorse or exploit any product or service; or in a way that might defame such individual, company or institution.
All filming also requires public liability insurance. You need proof of this in order to receive permission to film or carry out any commercial photography.
This insurance covers the legal responsibilities of your production if your activities cause injury to a third party or damage to property.