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Thread: Need permission to shoot outside buildings

  1. #1
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    Default Need permission to shoot outside buildings

    I have a small project coming up in late January where I have to do some shooting outside a part of the town where I live. The back story is that this part of town was regenerated in the late 1990's, it was all run down and the buildings were demolished thankfully. The former residents moved on, some to Australia, America and Canada. Now I have been asked to record what it looks like now for a reunion party that will take place at Easter next year for former residents who lived here anything up to 50 years ago. Old video, cine footage and photographs are being collected at present to put on an exhibition during this reunion.

    Now onto the problem... New private houses, new businesses and flats have been built in the area and I was just wondering how I should go about a shoot in this area. I just don't want to turn up on the day and start recording and have someone (usually with nothing better to do) or some jobsworth give me grief and question me as to what I'm doing (this seems to be happening a lot more now that it did 10 years ago, have you noticed it too?).

    So do I write to all of them, do I visit all of them and explain what is going to take place or is there some other way to best approach this. I have this feeling there is 1 correct way to do this and 99 wrong ways to do it. The other thing is if one of them tells me there is going to be no filming outside their property, even though I will be on a public street at all times, I don't want them calling Joe Law.

  2. #2
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    There was a thread about this very subject recently.... and Guru (I think) posted a link to a piece about filming in public places. I haven't got time right now myself to find it again, but do a quick search and print out the page from the link.... it's excellent.

    EDIT - Nope, it was Mark W and the thread is HERE

    Nope - edit again - See THIS
    Last edited by Andy Lockwood; 12-03-2008 at 10:08 PM.

  3. #3
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    The law is really easy to condense...

    You may film anywhere unless there is a specific legal reason for not doing so. Courts and buildings covered under the Official Secrets act are the only places where it is forbidden by criminal law and where the police will want to get involved. Likewise filming for the purpose of terrorism is a recent addition to the statutes. If you film INTO private property (ie: into someone's bedroom) with a "telephoto" lens (the act actually mentions a long-focus or telephoto) to obtain pictures of people which breach their privacy and then publish the pictures there is an offence but the prosecution is in a civil court, not criminal.

    If you are ON private property then the owner or their representative can ask you to desist and/or ask you to leave. That's all they can do, they can't confiscate your camera or tape.

    So, filming on a public street is not a problem. Some security guards might try and say that you can't film a building. B*ll*cks. If you're on the footway or street, you can film anything you want (apart from the examples mentioned above).

    Edit: I agree, I'm finding that more jobsworths and security morons are trying to stop me filming. Frustrated policemen, most of them. The real old bill are usually very helpful so, if you have a problem, then call the police yourself, they don't like little Hitlers any more than you do!
    Last edited by Rembrandt Rob; 12-04-2008 at 12:03 PM.

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    I agrre - even when I have been on the other side of the blue line filming I have always found real coppers professional and helpful.

    Security guards? Serial underachieving virgins with power issues. A frim appraoch is needed from the off - ' no - you are wrong - go away - if you dont I will considor you are impeding my right to free expression and are harassing me - can you call the police for me, I got no credit. '

    Personally I try to be funny and diplomatic - you want the next guy the security fancies having a go at to have less hassle not more.

  5. #5
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    Assuming this is public property you might like to ask the local Council for permission. A letter or email saying OK might save you hassle (ie wated time) if someone DOES try to interrupt you on the day or if PC Plod comes alomg. OTOH you might just get someone on the local Council who wants to be awkward - but at least you can have the argument in advance of turning up with your kit & crew.

    Whilst you clearly don't need permission of the residents, wouldn't it be a good idea from the pesrpective of the film to include a few of them to contrast their feelings about the area now with those of the previous residents?
    Re-reading your post, I'd have thought the Council wouyld be only too willing as a regenerated area can only show them in a good light.
    Tim

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    Thank you all for your responses. I did read the previous posts about filming on a public street and have noted the information about what I can and can't film. It's just that there are so many people with businesses, houses, people in flats in the area now, the numbers are something I haven't encountered in the past. Also everyone seems just that bit more keen to come out now and get in your face, you can see them standing in the doorways (got little to occupy their time these days) with their arms crossed and a scowl on their face, ready to charge across the street, regardless of traffic to give you an ear bashing.

    As far as getting the council involved and getting them to contact either the business owners or some or all of the residents, I don't hold out any great hope of them doing that, because it will have to be brought up at the next council meeting, it will have to be discussed, a vote will have to be taken on it etc etc etc. They may have an answer 12 months later, knowing the way councils work.

    What I might do is leave it to nearer the time and approach some of the residents and business owners myself and explain to them what the shoot involves and gently remind them that it's people in the area who are going into their shops, their restaurants, pubs etc and it could be their contribution back to the local community who have stuck by them in the past year. Something that I could use as leverage, but having said that I'm sure I'll encounter one person who will refuse all attempts at having the outside of their premises recorded onto tape.

    The residents on the other hand might be easier to persuade as I can get my hands on some old photos and cine film now on dvd. We have a library in the area so perhaps a small presentation some night in January before the shoot might persude them?

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    DONT ASK ANYONE.

    As you may have noticed i am rather er miltant about this. If citizen jounos of any description start asking permission and self censoring it justs fuels the mad idea that you cant film just about anything.

    If you ask people just say no often then your stuffed. Well - thay say no to anything that really must be filmed.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark W View Post
    ...DONT ASK ANYONE...
    EVER. Is what I would add to that. I have a contract with a local estate agent filming their properties internally and externally so they can post on their website. Inevitably this includes shots from across the street, general area etc. For sure some neighbours properties get included. I've never asked and never been challenged. It does help to turn up with a decent size camera, proper tripod, fluffy mic and act just like the BBC.

    EDIT - It does help that I'm known as Play Pause Click, as "I'm the PPC filmcrew" sounds alot like...
    Last edited by Andy Lockwood; 12-05-2008 at 03:44 PM.

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    ' PPC ' - lols.

    Very much ditto the big cam thing. As the a rule the amount of hassle you get is inversely proportional to the total cost of your kit. This is precisely the reaosn I went with crappy old vx9000e for years - and now a now a rather less crappy pro sd cam.

    But the pro look has it's downside - too many ' am i on tv ' questions and stupid kids arsing about in background.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Lockwood View Post
    Originally Posted by Mark W
    ...DONT ASK ANYONE...
    EVER. Is what I would add to that.
    Knowing your rights doesn't mean you can't show people courtesy and showing courtesy might get you further.

    And it surely depends upon what you're filming. If you're on a tight schedule, you want to minimise interruption of people trying to stop you. I accept if you're Mark you might actually want some confrontational footage with a neanderthal luddite, but realise this is potentially at the expense of getting the job you went out to do done.

    I've requested permission from the council twice. Both times by an email addressed to a specific councillor and both times I've received an immediate response. If you're filming in a public place, according to Guru, you do't even need permission. So state this. Say you understand you are entitled to film, but want to inform the council and want to check that you won't be interfereing with anything else happening on that date at that location (road works etc) and that you are letting them know as a courtesy. That puts the ball in their court to object if they dare. There's no waiting for council meetings etc.

    It's worth remembering that Councillors depend on your vote and those of others so want to look good. They also claim to support local arts and businesses so it's not going to look good on them to have stood in your way. Local press love stories where the council trample on the little man and the councillors know this.

    As I said I've done this twice. First time we got a few funny looks - especially as we had an 80 year old stripped down to his underpants in October. The police arrived soon after we'd finished shooting, but had they turned up earlier, a copy of our email from the Council would have expedited matters, I'm sure.

    On the second occasion, we wanted to film in the car park of a local leisure centre. We'd got permissiom from the councillor first THEN approached the leisure centre manager. His email reply was rather telling. It began along the lines of "As you've already got permission from the council I can't stand in your way..." and went on to make us fill in all sorts of forms about not using images of children etc. The point is if we'd just turned up and filmed this guy clearly would have done his damndest to stop us filming.

    On the same shoot, we recorded outside the Council Offices which share the same car park. Enter officious woman from reception "you can't film here". "Oh yes we can" - show her the email exchanges. "Hold on" phone call to another councillor. He comes down, asks what we're doing, looks at email. "Oh jolly good show". We've now got TWO councillors on side. Continue fimilng uniterrupted.

    Remember COUNCILLORS NEED VOTES and do not want to be seen getting in the way of local businesses or arts.

    And Nikosony, I wasn't suggesting you get the COUNCIL to get in touch with the residents, I was suggesting you might, if it might add an interesting perspective to your film. I suspect you'd get a some positive response - everyone wants to be a star these days.
    Tim

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