filming Locations / The location scouting, permissions and rights

Filming locations/ Sightings

the next generation part 1

This week, we’ll talk about locations that are ” sensitive “ in which you have trouble to run, and you think you might be complicated to spot.

A user asked me an interesting question, but answer it in a few lines was not possible. Here is his question :

“What seems to me abstract, it is the issue of human rights in the places of filming. As it is, for example, to make the overall plans of an entire city, what kinds of rights, permissions should it be ? If the place where one turn is close to a road, should it also have permissions for this drive ? When the shoot is done in a station, airport or busy place, how it happens ? If the film is in need of an old train or an airplane, which refer to.. ? “

The locations are often, in young filmmakers, as a source of problems. It is true that when writing the scenario, it is not believed (wrongly) to the difficulties that we will meet then, when it is necessary to find the sets.

We are going to talk about concrete cases. Soon, a feature film will come out (July 9) : ” queens of the ring “ directed by Jean-Marc Rudnicki. I am busy scouting for the film. I’ll let you watch the trailer :



There were sets of complicated and sensitive as a supermarket with a roof that is accessible, that can support the weight of a technical team + the equipment, a zenith arena for a gala of catch, or even an airport.

During my scouting, I had to find locations that are quite different: trains, castles, condos, houses, buses, airplanes, highways, prisons, ferries, etc… in short, just about everything, you have understood :o)

In the end, the answers are rather simple but require an almost case-by-case basis. Take, to begin with, the idea that you must shoot a town in the wide shot. At the base, you do not need any particular authorization…except :

– To the place where you will lay your camera, if it is a private place

– If you recognize a monument, in particular, subject to the rights of authors

– Prevent the prefecture de police


The second point is important. You can shoot a wide shot of Paris, with in the background the Eiffel tower, without paying duty to the company that manages it. On the other hand, if you make the same plan at night, then you will have to pay a fee to the SETE.


Why ?

The rights of authors (and this is true for an architect) are valid 70 years after the author’s death. If you had to shoot the Eiffel tower before 1994 (Gustave Eiffel died in 1923) you would have had to pay rights. In contrast, the illuminations are regarded as a work of art and the author is not yet dead.


If I want to shoot : in the street, in a park, in front of a house, etc…

All of the shots outdoors are subject to an authorisation of the shots. It is prohibited to bring his team (even slightly) and install a walk with a camera and a projo, without permission, under penalty of a fine and especially the confiscation of your equipment by the forces of law and order.

It is also prohibited to block or interfere with the circulation without prior permission !!!

So how do you do ?

Most of the time, just ask permission at the mairie of the town or you want to shoot, explaining exactly what you want to do. Thus, it will be possible to know what you can shoot without problems of copyright. In general, the communication department of the city has the capacity to manage this kind of info is giving you the right contacts.

ATTENTION ! He needs to know exactly where you want to turn. This demand and especially the needs that you have, will result in a bunch of things like : having to block a street partially or permanently according to the needs, to have recourse to the police, need to get a set of barriers by the technical service of the mairie or DDE etc…..


Of course, all this may have a cost ! Depending on the city where you want to shoot, some cities are more cool than others. But the filming and multiplying the past few years, the municipalities are trying to earn a bit of money. If you turn a short film with an association or a production, please do not hesitate to mention that it is a short ! The budget is tiny (or even non-existent), plus a nice smile, and all of this should help you to get price, maybe even free for some things.


But in a public place, what do I do ?

In your authorization request, it is necessary to mention the needs of the shooting, for example, that you need to “privatize” : the park, the street, the town hall etc… to be able to put your camera, your lights, your actors and your extras.


Depending on the location, you can either close the place to the public or if it is a park with multiple entries, you will be allow to stop the passers-by “asking them nicely” during shooting. This way, you can avoid that mrs. all the world is planted between your actors and your camera to watch what happens. This will also avoid that it realizes at the end of the 5 minutes that it is not in his place, tries to duck to get out of the field and hope was invisible all this time !!! ;o)

In a street ?

Request for authorization to the town hall and to the prefecture of police.

But be careful, there are shops, you must also notify the traders for the day or days of filming their trade may not work as usual.

From memory, I believe that it is necessary to prevent them at least 3 days in advance. But of course it depends on the size of the shoot.

If you need to block the street all day for a cascade of car, you may attract the ire of the traders. It will also prevent at least a week in advance.

A tip : choose a different place ;o)

In front or inside of a house ?

If it is a condominium, you must obtain permission from the syndicate of co-ownership as well as the agreement of the owners of the house in question. Either you arrive in dealer free, or you may have to indemnify the condominium and the owner of the house. You will also need to ask permission from the mairie if you have to park technical vehicles outside the co-pro.

The rates of these rentals are at the discretion of each production and owner. There is no ” schedule “. A short film does not have the same budget as a movie at 1 million, and this film does not have the financial power of a film to be 6 or 15 million.

For the roads ?

For national roads, it is necessary to ask the permission of the DDE. For the county, get general advice, the technical unit of the territorial.

For communal roads : the town hall

And highways ?

All the highways of France are managed by companies that accept, under certain conditions, that is turned at them. All this has obviously a cost. You just need to contact the company that manages the motorway on which you want to turn and it will be a pleasure to explain to you how they can help you….

ATTENTION : Even if you do shoot not in a toll booth, and that you made that roll, to film on a portion of the highway is paying off ! And subject to approval.

Here is the first part of this article. The result will be online on Wednesday morning, we’ll talk about the places hyper sensitive : prisons, ferry, train, plane, airport etc….

I always try to be as clear as possible in my explanations but if you have any questions please do not hesitate to leave me a little message.

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Tom W.


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