Code of Practice
Buckinghamshire Council welcomes film & TV production in and around Buckinghamshire and recognises the benefits this activity brings. Buckinghamshire Council is committed to Buckinghamshire being ‘film friendly’ whilst ensuring that any filming activity is accommodated in line with the duty of care towards its residents and businesses. As a result, it has a dedicated team, the Buckinghamshire Film Office which is a department of the Council’s Communities Portfolio, to manage all requests to film in Buckinghamshire.
Throughout this Code of Practice the term filming relates to feature films, television productions, commercials, pop-promos, corporate films, student films, short films, and commercial stills photography.
Buckinghamshire Council’s Filming Code of Practice
The principals of best practice which are detailed in this Code of Practice (the Code) have been developed by the Buckinghamshire Film Office and industry professionals, in consultation with Thames Valley Police.
This Code is intended as a guide to the requirements for filming on the highway and other public places as well as Council owned or managed property and aims to ensure that:
- all those involved in filming in the county act responsibly and professionally at all times
- all productions are aware of the guidelines under which Buckinghamshire Film Office operate and the services Buckinghamshire Council offers
- the principles of best practice for filming in the county are understood by all productions
- timescales and notice requirements are highlighted in relation to regulatory and statutory matters
- the practical impact of filming on people and businesses within Buckinghamshire is minimised
- the economic and cultural benefits to Buckinghamshire of such filming are maximised
- through a combination of the above, the long-term sustainability of filming in Buckinghamshire is secured
Although this Code is a voluntary agreement, it incorporates references to statutory obligations which all those engaged in filming in Buckinghamshire must adhere to.
Prior to and during filming the Buckinghamshire Film Office request all productions to:
- provide adequate notice when making arrangements for filming so that Buckinghamshire Film Office may facilitate liaison in a timely and efficient manner
- not obstruct others from carrying out their business
- be responsible for their own health & safety
- provide notice of any changes to schedule or filming activity
- on completion of filming provide information and feedback on your experience in Buckinghamshire.
Acceptance of Code of Practice
All productions are requested to agree to adhere to the Code prior to filming in Buckinghamshire to ensure the full co-operation of Thames Valley Police and other relevant public agencies, other than when filming on any land owned by Buckinghamshire Council, when this Code must be adhered to at all times.
Any filming undertaken in the County of Buckinghamshire, and any liability in connection with such filming, is the sole responsibility of the Producer/ Production Company and its employees. Buckinghamshire Council accepts no liability for any costs, expenses, losses or other damages, financial or otherwise, alleged to have been incurred because of these guidelines. Please note, whilst Buckinghamshire Film Office aims to ensure that the guidelines in this document are as comprehensive as possible, they are not exhaustive and may be subject to change at any time. This Code does not form an exhaustive list of requirements/procedures for filming in the County of Buckinghamshire. The contents are intended for guidance purposes only. In certain circumstances Thames Valley Police, emergency services or location owners may deem it necessary to impose additional stipulations on filmmakers.
A-Z Guidelines for Filming in Buckinghamshire
- Any filming involving the use of animals should be discussed with the Buckinghamshire Film Office at least 14 days in advance of filming with appropriate information relating to the transportation, rest areas and details of the animals’ supplier/owner, in addition to a detailed risk assessment.
- The production shall source animals that are trained to meet the production’s requirements, and this shall be from a known industry supplier/owner.
- When filming with animals, the production shall agree to follow the RSPCA Guidelines for the Use of Animals in the Audio-Visual Industry.
Apply to Film in Buckinghamshire
From 1st December 2022 Buckinghamshire Film Office will be implementing a Film Permit system. Applications for film permits to film in and around Buckinghamshire should be made on-line via the Buckinghamshire Film Office website
- No cables shall be run over the public highway in such a manner as to cause a hazard to the general public, residents, or businesses.
- All cables must be made safe as they are laid.
- If there is deemed a need to lay cabling across a public highway, attached to street furniture or flown for a safer method of working and public access, it is expected the production company would submit a method statement and appropriate risk assessment to the Buckinghamshire Film Office for consideration by Buckinghamshire Council Highways.
NB- Rubber matting should be regarded as essential safety equipment and should be carried as a matter of course.
- All matters relating to tracking and filming equipment must be discussed with Buckinghamshire Film Office at least 7 days in advance of filming. Any obstructions or alternative footways planned must always be cleared by Highways. In certain circumstances, tracking boards may be required.
- The production company should ensure that pedestrians, and in particular wheelchair users, are not impeded by filming. The safe minimum width of 1.5m must be provided to maintain the public’s right of way on footways. It is not acceptable to force pedestrians to cross over or walk in the road (unless an alternative walkway is provided in line with Chapter 8 of the Highways Act)
- Any equipment in the road must be discussed with Highways via the Buckinghamshire Film Office at least 7 days in advance of filming, as it will usually warrant a site-meeting. Roads must not be blocked beyond the minimum width required to maintain traffic flow, and in some instances, Police assistance may be necessary. The minimum widths to be maintained are 3.5m on a one-way street and 7m on a road with two-way traffic flow.
- The citing of catering vehicles must be discussed in advance with Buckinghamshire Council via the Buckinghamshire Film Office as there maybe areas where location catering vehicles are prohibited from parking up
- It is the producer’s responsibility to ensure that all litter and waste is removed before the end of each day’s filming and disposed of in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
- Food/Catering waste must be disposed of in enclosed bins/skips if directed by the Buckinghamshire Film Office.
- Any filming involving the employment of children (whether paid or unpaid) must be cleared through Buckinghamshire Education and Lifelong Services department. The employment of child actors is governed by one main area of legislation being the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and 1963 with additional simplified and streamlined regulations which came into effect in February 2015 being ‘the Children (Performances and Activities) (England) Regulations 2014.’
- Producers must make adequate provision for the education and health needs of all children employed when filming. A child is a young person of less than 15 years of age or who is still subject to full-time education.
- For advice and guidance on any matters relating to the use of children for filming, contact Buckinghamshire Safeguard Unit (01296 383962). You must allow a minimum of 21-day notice for the issuing of a Child License.
The production’s own placement of cones has no legal force to secure parking, and their use must be agreed in advance with Parking Services via the Buckinghamshire Film Office. See Parking for further use of legally enforced cones.
- The use of any Buckinghamshire Council property as a film location will be facilitated by Buckinghamshire Film Office subject to sufficient notice, advanced approval, and receipt of a signed license agreement.
- A location fee will be charged to reflect the level of disruption, staff time and any additional costs incurred because of the filming activity on site which will be invoiced to the Production by Buckinghamshire Film Office.
- Any damage caused by a production will be re-charged to the production company by Buckinghamshire Film Office.
- Buckinghamshire Highways, via the Buckinghamshire Film Office, must be informed of the citing of cherry-pickers/cranes/jibs on the public highway so that clearance can be arranged. Applications for any Section 171 Licence should be completed with Buckinghamshire Highways 28 days in advance.
- The location manager and a representative of the crane hire company must discuss the exact positioning of such equipment with a member of Highways via the Buckinghamshire Film Office (usually at a site-meeting) and the conditions of any permission granted should be adhered to at all times.
- At night or in conditions of poor visibility, warning lights should be placed around the cherry picker or crane.
- Rigging or de-rigging must be carried out at times that will not cause any unreasonable noise or nuisance.
Please see Noise and Nuisance section.
Buckinghamshire Film Office requests that location and/or filming credits be acknowledged for all filming activity taking place on Council owned or managed land or property in Buckinghamshire. Credits should refer to ‘Buckinghamshire Council’ or ‘Buckinghamshire Film Office.’
- Film-makers’ activities should be limited to areas and times for which permission has been granted.
- Production vehicles should be parked where agreed at pre-arranged times. Engines should be switched off on arrival. Cast and crew should not park in the immediate vicinity of a location unless spaces are provided.
- Drinks and meals should be taken in designated areas.
- No smoking areas must be observed. Where smoking is allowed, cigarettes must be extinguished in the ashtrays provided by the production company.
- Crew members must not trespass onto neighbouring property or enter areas of a location which the owner has stipulated may not be used for filming.
For detailed guidance notes on the use of SUA’s (Small Unmanned Aircraft) such as Drones and Octocopters please see Appendix 1 ‘Aerial Filming’ at the end of this Code
Filming from Vehicles
- The production must inform Buckinghamshire Highways via the Buckinghamshire Film Office when filming from a moving vehicle on a public highway (this includes, but is not limited to, the use of low loaders, tracking vehicles and a-frames). Buckinghamshire Film Office will consult with Thames Valley Police when any such request is received.
- All Road Traffic Legislation must be complied with, and a full Method Statement and Risk Assessment must be submitted to Thames Valley Police and Buckinghamshire Highways via the Buckinghamshire Film Office.
With effect from 1st December 2022, Buckinghamshire Film Office will be operating a Film Permit system. This means anyone wishing to film in or around the public highway, footpaths, parks, open space or other council owned or managed property will require a permit to do so. For further information on how to apply as well as all Terms and Conditions please visit the Buckinghamshire Film Office website at www.buckinghamshirefilmoffice.com
Firearms & Weapons
- Weapons and firearms must be supplied and managed by a suitably qualified and insured armourer at all times
- It is the responsibility of the production company to ensure the safe custody of firearms or mock/replica firearms and other offensive weapons, at all times. The use of firearms and weapons must be discussed in advance with, Buckinghamshire Film Office, Thames Valley Police and the appropriate emergency services.
- The production must display appropriate signage in and around the area to alert the public of the filming with use of weapons or firearms in addition to notifying residents and businesses.
- All generators must comply with the specific requirements of the Environmental Protection Act (1990) and be positioned as far away as reasonably practicable from all residential and business properties unless prior permission has been given.
- When using a generator, it is essential that adequate protection/drip trays are used between the surface and the generator in order to avoid any spilled fuel/leaking oil spoiling the surface.
Health & Safety
- It is the responsibility of the production (or parent) company to ensure that all employees are in compliance with current Health & Safety legislation and regulations (see Health & Safety at Work Act, 1974 and the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1992). See appendix 4 for further information.
- It is a criminal offence to breach Health & Safety Law and Regulations, failure to do so may invalidate the production company’s insurances and result in prosecution.
- There are many types of Risk Assessment required to be produced by a competent and qualified person on behalf of the production company for all activity relating to filming. Some examples of such Risk Assessments you may need include, but are not limited to, security risks, generic filming activity, stunts, flammable or toxic materials, temporary and permanent construction work, working at heights, the use of cranes and cherry pickers, vehicle related filming, static and temporary production office space, and unit bases.
- Where applicable Buckinghamshire Council via the Buckinghamshire Film Office require risk assessments to be provided in advance and in good time of filming taking place to ensure necessary qualified representatives have reviewed all relevant activities highlighted and given feedback where necessary, failure to provide this information in advance may result in your film permit being refused.
High Visibility Clothing
- Crew members, production personnel and 3rd party sub-contractors are required when working on the public highway to wear necessary PPE clothing to European Standard EN471 Class 2 minimum. This is an essential safety requirement under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 and Health & Safety at Work Act, 1974 (and all related Regulations and Codes of Practice)
- Failure to wear appropriate PPE clothing and adhering to the legislation may invalidate the production company’s insurance and result in your Film Permit being withdrawn.
Highways & Traffic Management
- All highways and traffic management issues must be discussed in full with Buckinghamshire Highways via the Buckinghamshire Film Office at the earliest opportunity
- Notice periods will vary depending on which order is deemed appropriate by Buckinghamshire Highways for any form of highway control (from Stop/Go to full road closures). The time taken to process a traffic order ranges from 2 to 8 weeks depending on the nature of the control, and the impact of the order to the area. Therefore, notice and approval need to be obtained in advance of and within stated time frame above.
- Charges and/or fees for processing various orders are on a per application basis. The decision on type and number of orders needed to facilitate such request will be made by the approving authority and not the Production Company.
Historic Buildings & Conservation Areas
Special attention and care must be taken when a production is planning to use any historic buildings, world and other heritage sites or conservation areas. Access by the general public may be a requirement by law.
- Filming in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) will have restricted use and will require assessment from all relevant authorities.
- Details of the filming requirements must be discussed and put in writing in advance by the production company.
- Extra insurance may be required to be held by the production company.
- A specific license will be required from the relevant landowner.
Indemnity & Insurance
- The production company must indemnify Buckinghamshire Council, its officers, servants and agents against all liabilities, actions, claims, costs, damages, demands, expenses and penalties brought by any person or persons for any property damage, personal injury, sickness, illness or death arising out of the production company’s use of any locations, land, public highway, pavements, footpaths, buildings or facilities other than that attributable to the negligence of the Buckinghamshire Council its officers servants and agents. For the avoidance of doubt, liability for death or personal injury as a result of the production company’s negligence is not limited to the requested amount of Public Liability Insurance cover
- All production companies must carry Public Liability Insurance with a minimum limit of indemnity to the sum of ten million pounds (£10,000,000) in respect of any one accident of series of accidents arising out of its filming activities.
- Large productions with complex filming sequences may require a higher level of cover relevant to the scale of the filming operation and activity.
- No film permit will be processed, without prior documented proof of adequate Public Liability Insurance with evidence that the insurance cover certificate is valid. Copies of such certificates and where required indemnities should always be provided to Buckinghamshire Film Office in advance of filming and should be
made available, on demand, to anyone affected by the location filming activities of the production company.
Please note that all paperwork must be supplied in English.
- When placing lighting stands on the carriageway or footway, Buckinghamshire Highways via the Buckinghamshire Film Office, must be informed and clearance given in advance.
- Lighting or other equipment should not cause a hazard to the general public (please refer to the section Cabling for guidance on safe cabling of such items).
- No danger or annoyance should be caused by the dazzle of lights.
- The following considerations should be taken to prevent any risk to the public or production company employees:
- lights above ground level and lighting stands are properly secured.
- lighting stands placed on a footway are attended at all time and are weighted and secured.
- lights do not dazzle ANY motorists.
- lights are not shone directly towards residential or business properties at any time without specific permission from the residents, businesses, and Council
- that blackouts are available to protect the public from light pollution when required.
- Filming on the public highway will normally be limited to no later than 22:00hrs in residential and commercial areas. Any filming beyond this time will require special arrangements and must have the full agreement of Buckinghamshire Council, Thames Valley Police, local residents and businesses in the immediate and surrounding vicinity. Adequate time must be allowed for consultation.
- Buckinghamshire Council has the right to take action under the Environmental Protection Act (1990) as a result of any unreasonable noise and nuisance caused by filming.
For detailed guidance for filming outside of social hours (22:00hrs and 08:00hrs) please see Appendix 2 at the end of this Code
Noise & Nuisance
- Noise must be kept to a minimum when setting up early in the morning. Generators should not be switched on in any residential area until after 0800 hours unless they are considered silent running.
- Buckinghamshire Council has the right to take action under the Environmental Protection Act (1990) as a result of any unreasonable noise and nuisance caused by filming.
For detailed guidance for noise and nuisance outside of social hours (2200hrs and 0800hrs) please see Appendix 2 at the end of this Code.
- Location managers should discuss all parking requests the Buckinghamshire Film Office before submitting an application via MiPermit (or alternative platform as directed) preferably at least 28 days in advance of filming.
- Where filming requires the suspension and/or dispensation of parking on the street or vehicles are directly needed for filming in such areas with parking restrictions, or any such suspension of the highway or car park, a method of operating will need to be agreed and approved with Buckinghamshire Council’s Parking Services via the Buckinghamshire Film Office.
- All vehicles need to comply with any special parking arrangements agreed or in accordance with any parking restrictions enforce in the Buckinghamshire area.
- Please see the ‘Apply to Film’ section of this Code of Practice for the link to our Film Permit application which outlines parking information and fees.
Please see Set Construction and Temporary Structures.
Police & Emergency Services
Emergency Services should always be notified of any large-scale filming activity, and access for emergency vehicles must be maintained at all times during location filming. If passage is likely to be blocked, due to props and equipment causing an obstruction, permission must be sought in advance from Buckinghamshire Council and Thames Valley Police which could result in the need for an official road closure (notice of 5 weeks must be given to process requests for road closures). Where relevant the Emergency Services should be duly advised of:
- Any likely disruption to traffic due to road closures during filming (All Services)
- The citing of production vehicles and/or external sets, which must not cause any obstruction(s) in relation to Fire Escape routes (in case of fire from buildings) and/or the location of fire hydrants on the highway (All Services)
- Staging of crimes, accidents or use of firearms, explosions and other special effects (Thames Valley Police)
- Dressing of artists in police uniform (it is an offence to impersonate a police officer and cast should be asked to cover such uniforms wherever possible, in particular in between takes) (Thames Valley Police)
- Use of any vehicle resembling a police vehicle. Vehicle livery should be covered when not in use for filming or when being driven along the carriageway. Sirens should not be used at any time on location and flashing lights must be switched off when not in shot (Thames Valley Police)
- Temporary halting of traffic during filming takes (no person, other than a police officer, has the authority to halt or divert traffic on a public highway). A traffic order may be required which requires a notice period of at least 2 weeks (Thames Valley Police)
- Use of fire hydrants, special effects, fires or explosions (Thames Valley Fire Brigade)
- The impersonation of fire officers or use of pseudo fire tenders (Thames Valley Fire Brigade)
- The impersonation of ambulance staff or use of pseudo ambulances (Ambulance Services)
- The impersonation of police officers or use of pseudo police vehicles of any description and/or authority (Thames Valley Police or other relevant Police Authority)
- Where occupied premises are used as a film location, all fire precautions must be complied with unless previously agreed by Thames Valley Fire Brigade (Thames Valley Fire Brigade)
- Any proposed filming activities on any river must involve the co-operation of the relevant agencies. (Coast Guard and In-Shore Rescue)
The production (or in some instances the distributor or broadcaster) shall provide Buckinghamshire Film Office with publicity material ahead of and in anticipation of its general release, by way of marketing the services of the Buckinghamshire Film Office wherever possible.
- Business Rates – Buckinghamshire Council does not have the authority to waive Business Rates on its, or privately owned property, which is rented and occupied by any production company, whether on a short-term lease (less than 12 weeks) or longer. However, if the production company is of the opinion that the rateable value is excessive, then it can apply to the Valuation Office to have the rateable value reviewed. An example might be if the property is in an exceptionally poor state of repair. NB: The Valuation Office is independent from Buckinghamshire Council.
- Council Tax – Buckinghamshire Council can offer a discount on council tax of a 2nd dwelling, if any member of your crew is staying locally in rented accommodation, please visit https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/council-tax/money-off-your-council-tax/ for further information.
Residents & Businesses
- The key to successful filming in residential & commercial areas is effective consultation and planning with those people that will be directly affected by the activity.
- Buckinghamshire Film Office has a protocol to help aid consultation and planning with those that will be affected by the filming. Please also use in conjunction with Appendix 2 ‘Guidance Notes for Filming Outside of Social Hours’ at the end of the Code.
- Any production companies that do not act responsibly may be declined a Buckinghamshire Film Permit in the future.
- Depending on the nature of filming and/or location, Buckinghamshire Film Office may require a deposit to ensure and safeguard against noise and nuisance, reinstatement works, cleansing, damage or staff costs to supervise or assist any other unforeseen when filming takes place in residential and business areas.
Rivers & Waterways
When planning to film on any waterway, the production must liaise with Buckinghamshire Film Office as early as possible. Buckinghamshire Council via the Buckinghamshire Film Office will advise as to the appropriate contacts and application procedures for filming in such environments.
- The temporary painting-out or disguising of road markings, yellow lines or other road signs requires the specific approval of Buckinghamshire Council and notification of Thames Valley Police.
- The production shall fully reinstate any alterations to road markings to the satisfaction of the appropriate Buckinghamshire Council department and when obliged to use official contactors agree to pay the necessary cost.
Rubbish & Waste Removal
It is the producer’s responsibility to ensure that all litter is removed before the end of filming each day. Any waste produced by the production must be removed from the site, transported, and disposed of in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
- The construction and positioning of lighting towers and scaffolding must be discussed with Buckinghamshire Film Office 28 days in advance of the shoot. Charges are applicable depending on the nature and duration of the scaffold/tower that is to be used/erected. Any damage resulting from the positioning of the scaffolding will be repaired by the Production Company concerned, at its cost and to the Council’s reasonable satisfaction. For scaffolding on the public highway a scaffolding licence application is required.
- Any scaffolding constructed must be provided by a certified supplier.
- Any generator used should comply with the specific requirements of the Environmental Protection Act (1990) and be positioned as far away as reasonably practicable from all residential and business properties unless prior permission has been given.
- When placing lighting stands on the carriageway or footway, Buckinghamshire Council must be informed, and clearance given.
- The Production must use SIA licensed Security for all licensable activity at all times: www.the-sia.org.uk. Licensable activity includes, but is not limited to: manned guarding (guarding premises against unauthorised access; guarding property against destruction or damage and theft), and guarding cash or valuables in transit
- It is the production company’s responsibility to ensure all staff representing them (in house or 3rd party contractors) where required have their SIA license fully viewable at all times. Failure to do so may result in personnel being in breach of the SIA license terms and maybe at risk of the license being revoked.
- A door supervisor license is required if manned guarding activities are undertaken in relation to licensed premises that are open to the public (i.e., a public house, restaurant, or bar)
- The production may be asked to work alongside on-site security officers who are not employees of the production.
- It may be required for a Risk Assessment of security to be provided by the production company to Buckinghamshire Film Office (on behalf of Buckinghamshire Council) where necessary at requested locations. See Health & Safety section for further information.
Set Construction & Temporary Structures
- For avoidance of doubt it is the production company’s responsibility that all temporary structures (both on the highway and within a building/temporary studio) constructed/designed by the production company must comply to The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015
- Planning permission may be required for some temporary structures such as, but not limited to:
- The building of a temporary set which will be up for more than 21 days from construction to strike.
- The prolonged use of a building as a set/temporary studio (such as Change of Use permission)
- For further information please see Appendix 4 – Temporary Use for Film Making Purposes
No temporary ‘unit’ direction signs may be used on the public highway or attached to street furniture (including traffic lights) without permission being sought in advance from Buckinghamshire Film Office. Should unit signs be used in the county, a fee of £150 plus VAT per each individual unit sign will be charged for its removal by the Council, and an invoice produced and issued to the offending production company.
Street Signs / Street Furniture / Street Lighting
- The removal of street furniture, including street signs, pay & display machines and the adjustment of street lighting is subject to the agreement in advance via the Buckinghamshire Film Office.
- All agreed work shall normally be carried out and re-instatement, and the cost of the production.
Stunts, Special Effects & Pyrotechnics
- All stunts, special effects (including weather effects and wet downs) and pyrotechnics must be under the direct control of a qualified stunt co-coordinator or special effects operative and must comply with the Environmental Protection Act (1990).
- If the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to the activity a suitable and sufficient Fire Risk Assessment must be carried out. If there are five or more employees, the significant findings of the assessment should be recorded. The Fire Risk Assessment should be made available for inspection by the local Fire Authority.
- Any plans for stunt or use of special effects and pyrotechnics must be discussed with Buckinghamshire Council via the Buckinghamshire Film Office in advance of filming. The production company will be required to provide detailed risk assessments, product specifications/data sheets, as appropriate, to the Buckinghamshire Film Office for review. Where the Buckinghamshire Film Office deems it necessary, the production company’s attendance at a Safety Advisory Group meeting may be required.
- See Highways for further information filming on the highway.
- All traffic management on the highways is managed by 3rd party qualified contractors. The production must supply appropriate NRSWA Act 1991 accreditation for their traffic management supplier.
The use of rain/snow machines or the wetting down of footways or carriageways shall only be carried out with the full the approval of Buckinghamshire Film Office and Thames Valley Police after a proper evaluation of the forthcoming weather conditions and with the proper signage as required. Please note their use would not be acceptable at any time of year when the temperature drops to 4c or below.
Wild Life and Protected Species
Where any filming is taking place in a public park, or any other open space, where there may be wildlife or protected species (such as bat roosts), then the production company should carry out all necessary ecological surveys are carried out prior to filming in order to identify any potential impact which the filming might have on such wildlife, and to put in place appropriate mitigation strategies to protect such wildlife from the production company’s activities whilst filming.