Out of hours filming

There are various permissions and considerations in order to film outside of social hours in residential and commercial areas in Buckinghamshire.

Unsocial hours or ‘night filming’ refers to any filming activities which take place between 22:00hrs and 0800hrs.

The key to successful working outside social hours is effective consultation with those people affected by the work. Therefore, when considering night filming in residential & commercial areas it is essential to consult with local residents and businesses in the planning process (please refer to Buckinghamshire Council’s Code of Practice for Filming ‘Residents & Businesses’ section page 7 for full details) and adequate time must be allowed for this.

Filming Outside of Social Hours in Residential & Commercial Areas

Residents who have legitimate objections can result in your application being declined. In addition, residents and traders who are left inconvenienced and disgruntled following a shoot may result in an area becoming difficult to film 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 issues when filming takes place in residential and business areas.

Therefore, in all instances Buckinghamshire Council via the Buckinghamshire Film Office must be fully briefed and informed in advance working to the following guidelines and best practice:

  • Any activity outside of social hours, including filming, is subject to the Environmental Protection Act (1990) regarding noise and nuisance. A legitimate complaint about noise or nuisance from a resident to Buckinghamshire Film Office can result in the termination of the shoot and confiscation of equipment or withdrawal of the filming permit. Therefore, it is advisable to shoot all scenes requiring noise above conversational level before 22:00 hrs.
  • Night shoots in residential areas should be finished and de-rigged by no later than 22:00hrs, unless prior permission has been granted by Buckinghamshire Council and the residents have been consulted and no objections have been received.
  • Noise should be kept to a minimum
  • All options should be explored to keep noise from generators to a minimum including baffling and the use of silent generators.
  • In instances where de-rigging of noisy equipment or heavy vehicles cannot be removed silently at the end of filming, they must be left ‘in situ’ and attended overnight by security. Should this happen the Buckinghamshire Film Office must be informed.
  • Technical vehicles must be parked in sensible locations which will not disturb residents.
  • All crew should use covert kits with their ‘walkie talkies’.
  • Earplugs should be made available to residents & traders if required.
  • Black out material should be made available to residents if required and have staff available to assist those residents that are not able to put up or take down the blackout material.


Requesting Approval for filming outside of Social Hours

In order to comply with the Control of Pollution Act 1974, where a production company identifies a need to work outside normal hours, they should liaise as soon as possible with the Buckinghamshire Film Office who will in turn liaise with Buckinghamshire Environmental Protection Unit to discuss the request. Before approval can be given the following information must be provided via a method statement:

  • Name of Location
  • Explanation for out of hours working.
  • Duration
  • Location of noise sensitive premises affected.
  • Details of proposed consultation with occupiers of noise sensitive premises
  • Working methods
  • Mitigation measures to minimise noise


Noise Pollution

The guidance notes below are taken from those prepared by the Public Protection Division to assist contractors and developers in understanding the restrictions which apply to construction work to protect residents and businesses from high noise levels. However, they act as a good guidance for production companies wishing to film at night.


Best Practicable Means

Production companies should ensure that the best practicable means are employed to minimise noise. British Standard 5228: Part1:1997 is approved as a code of practice for basic information and procedures for noise and vibration control.

Noise limits which should not be exceeded outside noise sensitive premises (i.e., façade levels) are as follows (adapted from Department of the Environment Advisory Leaflet AL72 and the World Health Organisation’s ‘Guidelines for Community Noise’):


Critical health effect

Sound level Leq, dB(A)



Speech intelligibility




Speech intelligibility


During class


Speech intelligibility




Speech intelligibility



* or equal to ambient noise levels if these are higher than 45dB(A)


Control of Pollution Act 1974

The above legislation gives the local authority power to serve a notice under section 60 imposing requirements as to the way in which works are to be carried out. This may specify plant to be used, hours to be worked and noise levels to be achieved.

Section 61 enables anyone who intends to carry out works to apply to the local authority for a consent. An application for a consent must contain particulars of the works, the method by which they are to be carried out and the steps proposed to be taken to minimise noise.

Download Code Of Practice