Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

I know this has been discussed on many other blogs, but while shooting part of a 3D project in London, from a public right of way several private “security  guards” tried to move us on and prevent us from shooting the exterior of their building. The law in the UK is actually quite clear on this: This extract is from the Met police web site:

“Freedom to photograph/ film

Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.”

In addition there are no laws preventing you from shooting normal people and buildings in the street, there are exceptions for military establishments, buildings covered by the official secrets act and nuclear power stations. But normal office buildings etc can be filmed at will. The security officers were from the Santander Building on Euston Road. We were not on their property and had gone by the book informing Camden council that we were going to be filming in the street, yet still they insisted we move on. For half an hour they obstructed us, behaving as though they had some kind of legal right to stop us filming (which they did not). Had it not been for the pressures of the shoot and the need to go to another location we would have called the police. It is getting harder and harder to carry out your legal right to film in public places. Contrary to popular belief you do not need to obtain a permit to shoot on the public streets of London (with the exception of Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square). Using a tripod is not illegal or a crime, however causing an obstruction is. To move you on for causing an obstruction the police would have to show that you are impeding the passage of others. Clearly if you are a big crew it is wise to contact the authorities before hand to smooth the way and get assistance from the local authority. You do also need to consider that many seemingly public places may be private property and you may not be allowed to use a camera under the land owners terms of access. In this case the only offence you are committing is trespass which is a civil offence so you cannot be arrested. You should leave when asked and your equipment cannot be touched.

Article by Alister Chapman


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

One thought on “Filming in the street by Alister Chapman

  1. I have been shooting news and corporate video since 1979 and the situation in the United States has never been worse in this regard. Combining the effects of 9/11 and the camera crazed YouTubers have made shooting video (or stills) on the street an ongoing exercise in diplomacy. In most cases you can explain to the power-tripping guard that it is a public right of way and be done with it. Other cases it pays to work fast, get your shots and move on. Occasionally I have asked them to call the Police on MY behalf because they are the ones breaking the law. Don’t see much chance of this situation improving anytime soon… George

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