Privacy law can be a bit more complicated than you might think - The Video Mode has rounded up what you need to know before filming in public places across the UK

So you’ve spent hours on Google Earth finding the perfect location for your shoot, but what do you need to know before you start filming in public spaces?

To film in the majority of locations across the UK you will need some kind of permission from owners or local authorities. Some will even ask for fees to film in their locations.

The Video Mode has rounded up some tips from the British Film Commission of what to be aware of when filming in public (or seemingly public) locations.

Filming in public: Local authority locations

Whether you’re looking to film in parks, streets, commons, estates, shopping centres or town halls, you will probably need permission from the local authority. All you need is a postcode to work out what local authority you need to get in touch with this useful government tool.

It’s also really important to make sure that the land is actually public and not privately owned, for example South Bank in London is actually owned by the London Eye, Southbank Centre and Coin Street Community Builders. Speaking to the local authority should alert you to this but make sure you do some research to not waste time with the wrong permissions.

Filming in public: Roads

If you’re planning to film on public roads, you will need permission from both the local police and the Highways Department of the local authority. Some may even require the production company to have a permit to do this.

Checks will have to be made to make sure that it will be safe for other road users. There are things filmmakers can do to make this easier, including not using distracting bright lights during filming and making sure you are wearing high-visibility vests so that you can be seen by road users.

filming in public

Filming in public roads: Make sure you get the right permissions and stay safe

Filming in public: Shops and restaurants

Shops, restaurants, pubs and other buildings are private property so to film inside of them you will need written permission from the owner or responsible executive. However, if you’re filming outside then you will not need permission to shoot the exteriors of the property – however, always be careful not to be using it in a defamatory manner or you might end up being sued.

Copyright of a film shot in a public place is with the filmmaker so passers-by outside do not need to give permission before being filmed. Although make sure they’re not staring curiously into the lens of the camera!

The British Film Commission also provides some useful contact details for filming across the UK.