The aim of these guidelines is to act as a checklist for all parties wishing to film on location and to ensure that all areas of consideration and safety are a priority. If there are aspects that are not covered or if there is doubt of any sort, concerns should be discussed with Portsmouth City Council.

These guidelines are adapted from Hampshire Filming Guidelines and Code of Practice 2007, Film London’s Film-makers Code of Practice April 2000 and Screen South’s Filming Guidelines 2006


  • When filming with animals, the production shall agree to follow either the RSPCA Guidelines for the Use of Animals in the Audio-Visual industry or the PAWSI code.
  • The use and movement of certain species of animal may require the issue of a licence under the provisions of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. The appropriate PCC department should be contacted for further advice and information regarding the intention to use or move any relevant species covered by the Act or associated regulation


  • PCC Transport and Environment must be consulted if you intend to lay cable on or over a highway that is to remain open to normal traffic.
  • All cables must be made safe as they are laid and not at some later time.
  • It is preferable to lay cables in the gutter along the highway or in the junction between a wall and the footway.
  • Cables on steps must be taped down to avoid the risk of tripping.
  • Wherever possible cables should be flown at a minimum 17’ (5.2m) above a public carriageway and 8’6” (2.6m) above footways and verges. The council / film office will, wherever possible, seek to make generator parking available which avoids the need to cable across the highway.
  • If there is a need to lay cabling across a footway there may be times when it will be sufficient to lay cables at right angles under a taped rubber mat. Rubber matting should be regarded as essential safety equipment and carried as a matter of course. This matting should be;
    • (a) a minimum of one metre wide, and;
    • (b) visible to the public by proper lighting, cones or high-visibility hazard tape.
  • On quieter roads it may be permissible to lay cables using proper cable ramps. If so then appropriate signage must be used after consultation with PCC Transport and Environment

Catering and removal of litter

  • All refuse and street cleaning will be the responsibility of the production and arrangements for its removal must be made by the production. If this is left to the council the production will be charged.
  • The production shall ensure that no dirty water or food waste be deposited in rainwater gullies.
  • Portsmouth City Council can supply buffet lunches and access to the staff coffee shop, which serves hot and cold breakfasts, lunches and drinks.


Section 93 of the Local Government Act 2003 permits all Local Authorities to charge for the provision of discretionary services. Supporting film-makers and film productions, including arranging filming on the public highway, is considered to be a discretionary service.

Examples of charges include:

  • (a) provision of vehicles to wet down the street
  • (b) refuse collection
  • (c) removal of street furniture
  • (d) removal of unit signs that have not been removed by the production company
  • (e) suspension of parking meters and any other parking provisions
  • (f) any additional refuse collection or street cleaning required
  • (g) council officers’ time in making the above or any other arrangements relating to a specific production

Any damage caused by a production company to the highway or street furniture will also be charged for.


  • The employment of child actors is governed by licensing regulations made in 1933, 1963, 1968 and amended in 1988.
  • Child Performers under the age of 17 are likely to require a Child Performance Licence. Child Performance Licences are issued by the local authority in which the child resides, unless the Child is at Boarding School. 21 days is required to process an application.
  • Producers must make adequate provision for the education and health needs of all children employed when filming.
  • Any filming involving the employment of children (whether paid or unpaid) must be cleared through the local authority’s Education Welfare service.

Celebrities and Look-alikes

  • Police should be informed of any celebrity presence or any celebrity look-alikes which are to be used.


  • Cones have no legal force to secure parking and their use must be agreed with PCC Transport and Environment.


  • Successful filming relies upon the local residents and business receiving adequate notice.
  • Letters outlining fully the intended filming must be sent to all residents and business affected at least 7 days before it begins and include:
    • (a) Date, time and exact location of filming
    • (b) Date of letter
    • (c) Location Manager and PCC contact numbers
    • (d) Number of crew or production personnel expected on location
    • (e) Clear details of any stunts or dressing planned
    • (f) Clear details of lighting plans
    • (g) Clear details of parking proposal
    • (h) Emergency arrangements and contact details

Cranes, camera cranes and aerial platforms

  • When planning to use cherry-pickers or cranes on the public highway, PCC Transport and Environment must be consulted.
  • The location manager or crane hire company must also discuss the specific weight and the exact positioning of such equipment with relevant authority and the conditions of any permission granted should be adhered to at all times.
  • The production company should ensure that pedestrians and in particular wheelchair users are not impeded by filming. There must be at least 1.5m clearance on the pavement.
  • Any obstructions on the highway must be appropriately signed and guarded and may need a Traffic Management Order.
  • Rigging or de-rigging must be carried out at times that will not cause an unreasonable noise or nuisance.
  • Particular attention should be given to assessing the proximity of any existing overhead cables before erecting platforms or cranes
  • Camera cranes, jib arms and cherry pickers must be tested and have proof of documentation and shall be operated by certified qualified technicians


  • The use of firearms of any kind, including replicas, must be discussed in advance with the police, PCC and the appropriate emergency service.
  • Where a live firing weapon is being used, the Production must have a licence holder for that weapon present, or a registered firearms dealer (RFD) or a servant of the RFD. Where the weapon is blank, it is still recommended to have the above present.

Health & safety and risk assessment

  • Every precaution must be taken to ensure the safety of the general public at all times and a contact number for the production must be available to the PCC and the police. All individuals working on location must take responsibility for their own health and safety and that of their colleagues.
  • Full consideration of Health & Safety issues for all employees must be taken and proven by the producer.
  • LOLER (lifting operations and lifting equipment regulations) and PUWER (provision and use of work equipment regulations) should be considered. These cover lighting / sound gantries, staging and the like which are likely to feature on film sets.
  • The producer must provide proof that a risk assessment has been done by a competent person appointed as the Health & Safety representative (with a minimum of NVQ Level 3)
  • A full risk assessment of the location must be carried out in accordance with the Health & Safety at Work Act (1974) and the Management of Health & Safety at Work regulation (1992)
  • Activities must be carried out in accordance with the Health & Safety at Work Act (1974) and the Management of Health & Safety at Work regulations (1992).
  • Types of Risk Assessment that may be required for filming activities include stunts, the use of flammable or toxic materials, construction work, working at heights and the use of cranes and cherry pickers. This is in addition to a comprehensive risk assessment of the location.
  • PCC must give an indication of the time required for risk assessments to be carried out and approved.
  • Failure to follow appropriate Health and Safety procedures may invalidate any insurance.
  • The production is bound by law to take reasonable care and measures to ensure that a healthy and safe working environment is created.

High-visibility clothing

  • Crew members and production personnel working on the highway must wear high-visibility clothing to standard EN471.
  • Failure to wear appropriate high-visibility clothing invalidates any insurance provision for the entire shoot.

Highways and traffic management

  • Where traffic management is required, PCC Transport and Environment must be consulted and a traffic management plan may be required.
  • If you require a road closure you must contact PCC Transport and Environment. Please be aware that road closures may require a lead in time of up to 6 months for consultation and to process the legal closure order.
  • Any alterations to the highway must first be agreed with the PCC Transport and Environment. The production must undertake to return the highway to its original condition as soon as possible and before the highway is returned to normal traffic use.
  • No attempt should be made by anyone to direct or control the normal traffic using the public highway. The only legal way to direct traffic is by using signage. Some areas of exclusion apply, please contact the police and PCC Transport and Environment for more information.
  • No objects should be attached to lamp columns without the permission of PCC Transport and Environment.
  • The production company should ensure that pedestrians and in particular wheelchair users are not impeded by filming. There must be at least 1.5m clearance on the pavement.
  • Any obstructions on the highway must be appropriately signed and guarded and may need a Traffic Management Order.

Historic buildings and conservation areas

Special attention and care must be taken when a production is planning to use any historic buildings, heritage sites or conservation areas.

  • The use of lights and any tracking in Historic properties must be assessed by the custodian and where relevant chemical or a heat analysis must be provided
  • The use of effects such as smoke effects, naked flames or candles may be prohibited or will require special permission
  • Filming in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) will have restricted use and will require assessment
  • Details of the production’s requirements must be discussed with and put in writing to the film representative.
  • Some historic properties are required by law to remain open to the public at all times and filming must work with this.
  • Some properties are delicate and the possessions unique. Extra insurance or a specific license may be required.
  • Areas that require any sort of set building, dressing, disguising, or which are subject to any sort of special effects will require a guarantee to be returned to a required standard.

Indemnity and insurance

  • Any filming undertaken on PCC property is the responsibility of the production company.
  • The production company must indemnify PCC, its officers and employees against any claims or proceedings arising directly from any injury to persons or damage to property as a result of the activities of the production company or its agents.
  • All companies, including student projects, must carry public liability insurance. No production will be granted permission to film without prior documented proof of adequate insurance.
  • Public liability insurance for £5 million must be evidenced in writing prior to filming. Where a road closure is required, public liability insurance of £10 million is compulsory. Risk assessment may require an increase in this limit and exclusions to certain activities may apply.

Lighting, lighting towers, scaffolding and generators

  • A special licence may be required for any of the above please check with the local authority
  • The construction and positioning of lighting towers and scaffolding must be discussed with the relevant authority well in advance of the shoot.
  • Any scaffolding constructed must be certified by PCC. A licence may also be required from PCC Transport and Environment where the scaffolding is erected on the highway.
  • When placing lighting stands on the highway, PCC Transport and Environment must be consulted.
  • The following considerations should be taken to prevent any risk to the public or production company employees:
    • (a) All lights above ground level and lighting stands are properly secured
    • (b) Lighting stands placed on a footway must be attended at all times
    • (c) Lights do not dazzle motorists
    • (d) Lights are not shone directly towards residential properties at any time without specific permission
  • Any generator used should comply with the specific requirements of the Environmental Protection Act (1990) and be positioned as far away as possible from all residential properties.

Military and MOD site filming

Some restrictions apply on filming in those parts of Portsmouth with military connections. In these cases film-makers should liaise with both the civilian police and the military police. Please contact the MOD film office for more information on filming at military sites including training establishments and other MOD sites.


  • Filming at museums can only take place with the consent of the Curator or Manager. Who will have the final say over:-
    – what can be done
    – when it can be done
    – under what circumstances and/or conditions it can be done
  • When discussing the ‘costs’ for “hire” purposes, the Curator or Manager may need to be in attendance. Any fees charged by the Curator or Manager for his attendance will be reflected within that cost.
  • Portsmouth Museums & Records Service will retain control over and use of access to all its resources, premises, staff, collections etc while any filming takes place.
  • Any project negotiated and/or managed by themselves will include Portsmouth City Council on the film credits.

Night filming

Night shoots in residential areas are naturally sensitive and it is essential to consider and consult with local residents and businesses in the planning process. (Refer to Noise and Nuisance Section below.)

  • Any activity, 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 PCC can result in the termination of the shoot and the confiscation of equipment. Therefore, it is advisable to shoot all scenes requiring noise above conversational level before 22.00hrs.
  • Walkie-talkies should be turned down to a minimum and earpieces used.
  • There may be cases when equipment or heavy vehicles that cannot be removed silently at the end of filming must be left ‘in situ’ and attended by overnight security. This must be cleared by the relevant authority prior to filming.


Applications are normally processed within 5 working days. Applications that require Traffic Management orders will take at least 21 days. Applications that require a full road closure may take up to 6 months.

For any production needing a site visit due to logistics, or more complicated requirements, a minimum of three weeks’ notice is needed to accommodate site meetings.

Noise and nuisance

Appropriate caution must be taken for filming in sensitive areas or at unsociable hours. PCC will exercise control if a particular production is causing an unreasonable nuisance or noise. Local authorities have the right to take action under the Environment Protection Act (1990) as a result of any unreasonable noise or disruption.


Police need to be informed of any nudity during filming.


  • Location Managers should discuss all parking requests with PCC Transport and Environment with two weeks notice in advance of filming.
  • In particular for on street parking requirements, other on street equipment requirements and bays to be kept empty for continuity.
  • PCC Transport and Environment will try to ensure that no road works or street maintenance has been booked during that time.
  • Film vehicles will not be allowed to park in such away that access is restricted or denied unless prior agreement has been secured.


It is recognised that most production companies act in a responsible and professional manner. However, PCC has a duty of care towards its residents and businesses. Accordingly, PCC insists that all producers complete the Application to Film in Portsmouth, in full, well in advance of the start of shooting.

This allows PCC to ensure that appropriate measures have been put in place for filming to run safely, that all relevant documentation has been submitted and that effective liaison with all stakeholders has taken place.

Upon receipt of a completed Application to Film in Portsmouth, PCC will establish whether permission to film should be granted and issue the appropriate location release.


Planning permission may be required for some temporary structures such as:

  • The building of a 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.

Prop or mock emergency service

The relevant authority and emergency service must be informed if the below applies:

  • Crime re-enactments.
  • If actors are to be dressed in a specific uniform (police, ambulance or fire brigade).
  • Uniforms and any vehicles resembling the emergency services must be covered whenever possible and in particular between takes. Any markings on vehicles must be taped over when not being used for filming or being driven on a carriageway.
  • Sirens should not be used at any time on location and flashing lights must be switched off when not in shot and covered when not in use.
  • Legally there must be a police presence for mock emergency services filming, please contact Hampshire Police for more information.


  • Any props used during the shoot will be removed and the area made good.
  • PCC may be able to supply some props for a fee.


  • The production shall provide the location and PCC with publicity material on release of the project wherever possible.

Public Transport

  • The production must seek permission from the relevant contact before filming on public transport.

Rivers & Waterways

  • The production must liaise with the landowner and any relevant authority as early as possible. Specific health and safety measures will apply.

Risk assessment

  • A risk assessment will be required to satisfy the insurance provisions and statutory obligations to employees and anyone who will be affected by their actions.
  • Additional assessments may be required depending on the type of filming


  • The production must use SIA licensed Security for all licensable activity at all times.

Signage & Graffiti

  • All signs directing crew to specific locations must be approved by PCC and must be taken down after filming. If the signs are on a public highway then PCC Transport and Environment must be consulted.
  • Any Graffiti must be planned at least 21 days in advance. The owner of the property must be consulted and their permission must be obtained.

Sound playback

  • The filming of artists to sound play-back can only be undertaken with the prior agreement from the relevant authority, at any time.

Street furniture and street lighting

The removal of street furniture, including signs, and the adjustment of street lighting is normally carried out by PCC Transport and Environment and charged to the production company.

  • All arrangements for this work must be made through PCC Transport and Environment.
  • Minor work by the production company may be permissible with prior permission and any damage or reinstatement costs would have to be met by the production company.

Stunts, special effects and pyrotechnics

All stunts, special effects (including weather effects and wet downs) and pyrotechnics must be under the direct control of a named qualified stunt co-ordinator or special effects operative and comply with the Environmental Protection Act (1990).

  • Any plans must be discussed with the relevant authority and a risk assessment must be carried out by the production prior to filming.


Sustainability whilst filming is encouraged by PCC. The Sustainable Business Partnership which also operates from the Economic Development Office can help film-makers to achieve this, please visit Sustainable Business Network.


  • All matters relating to tracking must be discussed with PCC Transport and Environment.
  • The production company should ensure that pedestrians and in particular wheelchair users are not impeded by filming. There must be at least 1.5m clearance on the pavement.
  • Any obstructions on the highway must be appropriately signed and guarded and may need a Traffic Management Order.


Wet downs may only be carried out with the approval of PCC after a proper evaluation of the forthcoming weather conditions and with the proper signage as required.


  • The descriptions highway, carriageway, footway and verge used in this document are defined in The Highways Act (1980)
  • The descriptions Filming and Production refer to every type of filming. In particular, feature films, television productions, commercials, pop-promos, corporate and stills.

This document is intended as a guide to the requirements of filming on the streets and other public places in Portsmouth. It is not exhaustive and filmmakers, location managers and production companies are advised to check with Portsmouth City Council as to local charges, policies and practices. Portsmouth City Council will accept no liability for loss, financial or otherwise, alleged to have incurred as a result of these guidelines.