Video Production London
As a London video production company – and TV producers with more than 20 years experience – we’re often asked about the rules and regulations when it comes to filming on the streets of London. So here’s our handy guide to making sure that your London video production goes smoothly.
Permissions for London video production
It’s always the first question that we’re asked: do we need permission to film on the streets of London. The short answer is no but the longer answer is, yes sometimes.
In general if you’re working with a small crew with either a handheld camera or a simple tripod, then you don’t need permission. And as long as you’re on public land – the highway or pavements – you’re free to film as you wish. There are no restrictions on filming buildings – despite what some over zealous security guards might try and tell you – and, courtesy aside, there are no restrictions on filming people who are also in public spaces.
There are some areas that do require permission and they’re usually the most popular tourist hotspots and they’re often covered by a specific borough’s rules; Westminster is the most notorious and they require permission for you to film in areas such as Trafalgar Sq, Leicester Sq and Parliament Sq. Each borough has a dedicated film office, so it’s very easy to contact them and check whether you need persmission; I’ve always found them helpful and cooperative. There’s a handy list of their contact details here: London Film Offices
You’ll need public liability insurance but any professional London video production company or camera crew will hold this as a matter of course.
Filming in London parks
One of the delights of London is the number and variety of parks and green spaces that we have. Not only do they offer interesting locations themselves, they’re often great places to get views of London itself. In particular the views from Hampstead Heath have featured in dozens of films and adverts. We’ve used them ourselves many times – have a look at our advert for Macmillan that was shot on the Heath.
You’ll need permission to film in a London park but most of them are cooperative and try to facilitate filming when they can. Smaller parks are run by local boroughs – contact list – but the bigger ones such as the Royal Parks and Hampstead Heath have their own PR departments.
Liaising with the Police
For most London video production – corporate or documentary shoots – you won’t need permission from the Metropolitan Police. We’ve often been stopped by police officers who are naturally interested in making sure there’s no threat or safety issue and when we explain what we’re doing, they’re generally fine and let us carry on. Sometimes they’re more fussy and tell us that we need a ‘licence’. Oddly a licence isn’t actually permission to film…it’s a way of letting the police know who you are and what you’re doing so that they can inform their officers and leave you in peace.
There are several specific cases where you’ll need police permission and a police presence. They are if you’re filming
- with weapons
- with replica, imitation or airsoft firearms
- with actors or extras in police uniform
- with replica or fake police vehicles
- scenes of crime or violence
- real or perceived nudity
- with issues of public safety
The Met Film Unit are really helpful and it’s always worth giving them a ring and checking whether you need a licence and whether you need a police presence.
One of the best reasons for working with a London video production company is that we’ll know the best locations to make the most of our wonderful city. Our favourite views are
Waterloo Bridge – one of the best city views in the World. Look east for the City shimmering in the afternoon light, or look west for the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament.
Hampstead Heath – classic views of London and the City spread out below you.
The South Bank – views of tourist London, St Pauls, Tate Modern and the river. Well worth a few hours.
If you’re thinking of commissioning a London video production company then do give us a ring and we can chat through your project.
We’re on 020 7274 2986.
Jeremy Jeffs is a documentary film maker with 15 years experience of directing films for BBC, Channel 4, National Geographic and PBS. He’s recently finished work on a history of China, with broadcaster Michael Wood and his recent feature documentary, Bette Bourne, was shown at the London Film Festival, Sheffield International Documentary Festival and the V&A. More about Jeremy
Magneto Films is an award winning production company that specialises in working with brands, technology and the charity and public sectors. We specialise in telling real stories, working with case studies and real people to make films that move people to action. More about Magneto Films
CONTACT US ON 020 7274 2986 or email us!