where can i film?

Whether you’re using your smartphone or one of the JOMEC cameras, you will be filming a lot of video on the course. So you need to know where you can film.

The answer to this question takes two forms. The first is that there are JOMEC rules about where you can film from a safety point of view. There’s a separate post about how that works.

The second is about where you are allowed to film from a legal/practical/ethical point of view. That’s what this post is about.

OK… Most of the time you are fine to film outdoors, in public places, without permission. And most of the time you will need permission to film inside a building.

Example: you are filming exteriors of shop windows and shop signs from the street. No problem. You want to go inside one of the shops to film what’s on the shelves? Now you need permission from the shop owner.

“Permission” might be very informal. For example, the shop is a small, local place. You ask the owner and if he/she says yes then that’s all you need. But if you wanted to film inside a TESCO supermarket, for example, the people in the store wouldn’t be able to say yes or no. You would need to get permission from the company’s press office in London. And you would need to do this way in advance of your filming. In other words, the bigger the organisation, the more you work will have to do to get permission.

When I say when you “go indoors” it’s probably best if you think of this as being if you go through a doorway. For example, you might think you haven’t gone “indoors” if you go inside a railway station to film. You might also think that a railway station is a public space, so it’s OK for you to film there. But it isn’t. A railway station is private property (owned by the railway company) and you have gone through a doorway to get into it. You will need to permission to film there.

So — outdoors, OK. Indoors (through a doorway) you will almost certainly need permission from the owner of the property.

Any exceptions to the outdoor rule? A few.

Firstly, you should not film around schools. People in the UK are very sensitive about their kids being filmed. If you want to do a story that involves schools, or schoolchildren, make sure you talk to me first.

Secondly, you should not film around hospitals. Although they are a public space, many people will be going through very difficult experiences there and there is a general expectation that the media should respect their privacy.

Thirdly, outdoors means filming where the public are. You are OK to film provided you are standing in a public place where there are already other members of the public, or where other members of the public can go. Remember, outdoor areas can be private property too.

Look at this picture of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. You would be OK to film from position 3. It’s the pavement, where anybody can walk. Position 2 is probably the private land of the RWCMD (just as the front garden of somebody’s house is their property). You would need permission to film here. Position 1 — inside the building — would involve going through a doorway and you would need permission to film.

This stuff is really important and if you aren’t clear about it, please ask me for more information.

Q. I want to film inside a public building, where there are lots of members of the public, for example a library. Is that OK?
A. No. A library is a public building that’s owned by the council. You should get permission. There are ways around filming inside council buildings, but you should speak to me before you start filming.

Q. Can I film in a park?
A: Parks are almost always owned by the local council. They are outdoors (obviously) and public spaces so you should be OK, but sometimes you will be asked if you have permission, or what exactly are you filming etc. Be polite and explain what you are doing and you will probably be OK.

Q. Can I film inside JOMEC?
A. Yes, but that’s because we are giving you permission to. You will *probably* be stopped if you film inside other university buildings. If this happens, you should simply explain that you are a student at JOMEC and see what happens. If they ask you to stop filming and leave, you have to leave.

Q. Can I film in Cardiff market?
A. This is a little bit of a grey area. It’s owned by Cardiff council and it’s indoors (you go through a door) so you should need permission. But students have filmed there without permission and with no problem before, so you will probably be OK. But if you’re asked to leave, you should leave.

Q. Can I film in a shopping mall?
A: No. Private property. You would need permission to film in the mall itself from the people who own/manage the mall. To go inside an individual shop in the mall, you would need permission from the people who own the shop.

Q. Can I film the outside of a building?
A. Yes.

Q. Does it make a difference if I use a smartphone?
A. It means you are less likely to be stopped while you are filming. But when you put the pictures you’ve filmed online, the fact that you shot them on a smartphone won’t help if you were filming on private property and didn’t get permission. Talk to me about this if you’re confused.

Q. Can I film the police?
A. Yes, provided you don’t get in their way. Talk to me.