Finding a location – Assessing suitability and booking requirements

London skyline filming

Location shooting advice – Practical planning advice

The paperwork – Useful guidance to filling in the ticking the right boxes for insurance and permits

General practices – Hints on getting the most out of a thriving and fast paced production team


Finding locations to suit your needs

Shooting in London can provide a great range of beautiful landscapes, art, cultural backdrops, iconic landmarks and fascinating multicultural individuals who can give your project life and colour. Please bear in mind that the weather in the UK is famous for its random nature, so pencil in a few ideas if you are shooting outdoors. Shooting in a studio will give you the sound recording control you may need with demanding deadlines.

Looking at and booking locations
Source as many pictures as you can as these will tell a lot about aspects and timings you may never have thought of. Google maps is also useful in identifying if the location is near busy roads, schools or airports which could affect your sound recording.

Most locations will have a location agent who can detail the process and prices. If you see a location but haven’t got a clue who to ask permission from, then contact the local police station, local government or council. A good production manager will be able to tell you a locations suitability. If your visit lasts a few days then try and find time around your shooting schedule to visit.

So…you have chosen to film in London… What next?

You have chosen your location and have a clear idea of the project and some idea of travel arrangements

When booking with a studio or location they should provide you with their terms and conditions. Experienced facilities will have a detailed set of procedures and guidelines so ensure you are clear on them. Your project could invalidate your insurance and slow down your production process

What are the terms and conditions, how can this affect my production?

Generally the terms apply for the hire period but there maybe other charges around this time so offer a detailed breakdown of your production schedule so they can assess what comes inclusive of the location hire price and what costs extra. All UK businesses who hire out their spaces and regularly deal with productions should have company information, banking and insurance details readily available. Ask them to supply as much information as possible.

Please…Keep in touch

Please be aware of time differences especially if you are at a crucial stage of the hiring and confirmation process. Please be sure you are contactable around UK timings and check whether the hirer is contactable at these times too. They may not be contactable via phone but you can request that emails are checked at key times. Check the implications for this and plan accordingly.

Payments for hire..What is offered, what is extra?

Check what payment terms are available. If you are invoicing from overseas you may be entitled to a ‘net amount only invoice without having to pay 20% extra for VAT

Generally a deposit is required to hold the space and this may be refundable or redeemable depending on several factors. Usually a pencil booking can be confirmed via a 50% deposit payment or a purchase order number with the remaining amount to be paid on the day of hire. Studio and locations hirers may state a cancellation fee within their contract terms but tend to be flexible given enough notice.

Cover all eventualities. Insure you are good to go!

If you are travelling from overseas then insurance must be obtained from your country of origin. All legal documents must have matching company names and addresses for the insurances to be valid. Check online for a range of insurance deals that will cover your kit hire, location hire and any medical emergencies . Most locations will offer public liability insurance which covers any accidents.

It is always best to check that what you intend to shoot is covered by their insurance. High wire work, pyrotechnics, animal wrangling, children’s health and safety and kit hire are usually your responsibility.

Health & Safety and Legal Requirements

Locations should all have good health, safety, fire precautions fire evacuation procedures in place. Check who is first aid trained on site too.

Ask for a risk assessment form to be filled in by the studio or locations manager. Health and Safety laws differ from country to country so be prepared to re-evaluate your shoot and try and be flexible in accordance to the hirers rules and regulations.

For general information of health and safety in Film and TV productions please visit www.hse.gov.uk

General advice for production managers, producers and individuals

Be as clear as you can be with all of your productions details. Make sure that email correspondences are replied to and important details and documents are dealt with when requested.

Terms and conditions, payment terms and almost any production related question should be readily available either online or by request.

Key points:

  • Seek permissions (For private locations, From councils and local police, landlords, custodians etc)
  • Check local fee’s (check for different options. The London eye charge more for filming their wheel from certain angles)
  • Apply for licences early (Insurance, child permissions to film, location agreements)
  • Check filming formats are compatible for any tape stock, digital media storage
  • Check flight details, planned travel closures, weather, parking, possible noise disruptions

Always aim to have a plan B. Studio shoots usually have a controlled sound environment and can organise any kit, crew, cast or wardrobe malfunction within hours so keep in touch. Generally look for a location who can offer a friendly, flexible, resourceful service who can go the extra mile to ensure your trip is carefully planned. All legal requirements are met and your London production goes as smoothly as possible.

Camberwell Studios have worked with production companies and businesses from around the world. These include New York Ad agencies, ESPN, Indian Industrial giants, Turkish football club Galatasary, Global Pharmaceuticals – who all to a greater or lesser extent sub-contracted the UK element of work to Camberwell Studios.

Written by Sam Parkinson, Studio Manager/Fixer


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