What is important to know before shooting outside?
All is ready. The subject is draught, the script taken care of to the finest details, the equipment is all set up and we can’t wait to start shooting the corporate video for the super mega company “fellow l.l.c”.
The main scene wants two actors running through the old town’s streets. So far so good, there aren’t any logistic problems that we can’t deal with, only a tiny annoying question starts pounding on the back of our heads , hammering our ideas (or something else) and thus insinuating an inescapable doubt in our mind: “should we ask the municipality for permission to shoot a scene right in the city?”
I believe that at least once in a lifetime as video-makers we came across this question. Bringing my personal experience on that matter, I hope to somehow be helpful for those who are about to shoot a video that takes place outside or for anyone who intends to write a script that might contain this kind of scenes.
Let’s start by saying that you can obviously record streets and landscapes belonging to this or that municipality for commercial reasons. You don’t have to make an official request in case the equipment you are using is not the same as the one used by Hulk and doesn’t take any actual space on the streets (tripod for instance).
In other words, as long as you are using a gimbal or a steady cam you are fine. The most important thing is to not include any person that is not part of your team. If that happens make sure that you cover their faces (make them unrecognizable) in postproduction or you let them sign a consent form in order to use the material.
The first solution, however, besides being estethically questionable, will not guarantee you the usage of your material in case any of these passers by doesn’t want the video to be distributed.
Needless to say that you can’t oppose to this request as image rights come first and because the same person can actually force a form of compensation out of you (which most of the time is translated in monetary terms).
You can get up to four years imprisonment if the images are deemed lesive of the person’s reputation. Those are, of course, extreme cases, but why should we run the risk?!
What are the situations in which it’s necessary to have a written permission from the competent authority?
Shots of a moving car: do you need to make a scene of a car driven by your actors (that means that the car is usually pulled)? That will slow down the traffic and therefore you need to make an official request to the municipal police.
Shots of cultural heritage: as per D.Lgs. n. 42/2004 , “all movable or unmovable things that are of artistic, historical, archeological, ethno-anthropological and bibliographical importance as well as all other things cited by the law or implicitly falling into this category for their values as representation of the human civilization’s heritage.”
Shots of airports and train stations: you need to first have a permission directly from the airport or the commissioner in charge.
To sum up:
You are free to shoot any videoclip, corporate or social videos that you see fit without asking for authorization to the authorities as long as you don’t record any passers by (unless they allow the distribution) or any thing that is classified as cultural heritage.
Last, make sure that you don’t occupy any public space with your equipment, regardless of the size of your tools. And please, do not block the traffic!