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A Video Marketer’s Guide to Filming in London


A Video Marketer’s Guide to Filming in London

With such a mixture of scenery, from high rises and gritty urban streets to beautiful wooded parks and commons, it’s no wonder that London is such a popular place for filming. It’s the ideal place to capture city life whilst capturing some of the most iconic buildings in the world in the process.

The UK’s capital has featured in big budget films and television shows but it has also been the backdrop for many a smaller productions, including brand films.

If you are planning on filming a brand film in London, there are many things to consider first and I want to look at some of these today.

Permits and Permissions

Almost all shoots will require a permit in order to film. Failure to do so, could mean being issued with a fine. Smaller shoots which do not include lighting equipment may be exempt, however there is a fine line as to what is allowed and so it is always advisable to err on the side of caution and gain permits before you begin filming.

London has 33 separate boroughs, each with its own set of rules and regulations so you must contact the relevant local authority to discuss where and when you plan to film. Within London, there are several areas which are wrongly assumed to be public spaces, so make sure you check beforehand. If you do plan to film on privately owned land, then it is likely that you will be charged a fee by the landowner.

Whilst filming in public spaces can often be free, there are laws concerning filming in these areas. Production crews may find it helpful to read the Code of Practice which sets out statutory obligations to which they must adhere. Crews must be careful when filming buildings, especially those of a high profile, due to possible security issues. Those with a heavy police presence may object to any filming taking place in the immediate area.


In addition to your location permit, there are several other factors that are required by anyone looking to film in London. Insurance is one of the most important of these.

All productions are required by law to have media insurance, which contains public liability insurance. This should extend for the entire duration of the shoot, from preparation to time spent travelling to and from locations. Your insurance is only valid on the basis that applicable health and safety regulations are followed so you must make sure you fully understand what this entails. As a minimum, you should be covered for around £2 million, however you may require significantly more coverage depending on the size of the production.

When filming in a public space, it may be inevitable that members of the public are included. You should always gain written permission from those involved as attempting to get this at a later date is invariably an impossible task. If the area is heavily populated, you should place signs in the vicinity which advise that filming is taking place.


As previously mentioned, filming on private land may attract additional costs, however using public areas within London may not cost a penny. That said, there may be fees depending on the size and length of your shoot to take into account waste disposal, road closure, traffic management, admin services and so forth. The charge for these services may be free or cost up to £100 depending on the borough in question. A Notice of No Objection must be obtained from the borough in which you are filming to confirm that they are happy for you to go ahead.

Travelling in the city

The fastest way to make your way around the city is by using the network of underground and overground transportation. With reliable services taking you all across London, this is one of the quickest and cheapest ways to travel, especially when you plan your journey adequately. If you don’t plan your route, including your travel times, you may be left stuck in London’s rush hour between 07.30 – 09.30 and again at 17.00 – 19.00.

If you have heavy equipment to transport, you may be forced into travelling on the city’s roads. Whilst this may take longer to get to your destination due to the inevitable traffic, it does mean that you won’t be packed onto a train or bus. Once again, ensuring that you know your way around the city is essential. It is easy to lose your way in such a heavily populated area and can be somewhat frustrating when rush hour is looming. Always plan for such eventualities, especially if you are filming in multiple locations.

Location, location, location

With so many areas within the city, finding the perfect locations to film in London can be a little overwhelming. If you are not familiar with the city and the surrounding area, it may be wise to hire a location manager who is. He or she will not only know some of the best places to film in the city, but can scope out areas of interest for you, as well as deal with the paperwork involved.

London has an abundance of locations suitable for almost any shoot. Here are just a handful of areas you might want to consider:


With the Royal Observatory being one of many famous buildings being used in historical projects, Greenwich is now among the most popular filming locations, not only in London, but in the world. It is also home to the O2 Arena which is another common location for filming.

The Thames

As the second largest river in the UK the Thames intersects through some of the most iconic areas of the capital. Famous buildings on its banks include the Houses of Parliament and the MI6 building (well known to any fan of the Daniel Craig Bond films). The Thames falls into two different jurisdictions so you will need to contact either The Port of London Authority or The Environment Agency depending on the area selected.

Piccadilly Circus

One of the most iconic sights in London, the junction which forms Piccadilly Circus has been used in countless films and television shows over the years. Perfect for capturing the frenetic pace and energy of the city, with thousands of people passing under the huge bright advertising boards.

London Underground

When you think of ways to get around in London, many immediately envisage the iconic red double decker buses but London’s underground network is equally famous and features a wealth of stations in all sorts of styles, with many dating back to the Victorian era. If you want to convey travelling within London as part of your shoot, then make sure you obtain the correct permits.

Big Ben

The clock tower (the Elizabeth Tower to give it its formal name) which houses Big Ben is no doubt the most recognisable aspect of the London skyline and so is often used to establish the location of London within TV and film.


This vibrant and effortlessly cool area of the city was once one of the poorest parts of London. That gritty edge has remained, surrounded now by art galleries, street art and all number of boutique shops. If you want to capture London’s hipster scent with some of its most colourful and fashionable residents, then look no further.


About the Author:  Evelyn Timson is the Managing Director of Bristol and London video production company, Aspect Film & Video. She has years of experience working with some of the world’s most recognisable brands like Samsung, Investec, Admiral Insurance, Adidas TaylorMade & Slimming World. You can connect with Aspect on Facebook or Twitter or see a selection of their award winning work on their YouTube Channel.

I am the founder of Startup Today. I am the main writer and have put in many hours of work into creating this blog. If you want to find out more about me then lets get in contact.

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