Often, while filming for clients based in Oxford and Oxfordshire, the client asks for b-roll of the historic buildings in and around Oxford City Centre.The most aesthetically pleasing are the Radcliffe Camera, the Bodleian Library, the externals of Queens college and Christchurch college and shots of punting.
However, though used often enough in many productions, do Oxford University have any say in the matter as the buildings belong to the University? Or indeed Oxford City Council, especially with regards to filming in the parks, the Covered Market or public footpaths ?Are production companies allowed to use those shots in any commercial ventures?
With regards to Oxford City Council, they have a Filming Application Form, Risk Assessment Form and Fees and Charges (http://www.oxford.gov.uk/PageRender/decE/FilminginOxford.htm).
Do people film without permission? Undoubtedly often and without permission. Most people wouldn’t know you require permission. Would the council chase up if they saw a production with shots that required permission? It depends on whether the production was a commercial venture – simply put, did the organisation that commissioned the filming make money from it? For example, if it was a best selling DVD/download for tourists brimming full of shots of Oxford City Council land then one would assume that eyebrows would be raised. If it wasn’t of that ilk, then I think it wouldn’t be chased up. What if it was free but had millions of downloads/views? Potentially. For the general public, I’m not sure the Council would bother unless the production took up lots of physical space. If it was a professional company then it’s down to their discretion really!
As for Oxford University, they do have a bespoke webpage for this – http://www.ox.ac.uk/news-and-events/filming-in-oxford. We have filmed in colleges, at the request of the colleges, without requiring permission from the News and Information Office- “Colleges and departments, including libraries and museums, make their own decisions about permitting filming and in almost every case you will need to contact the relevant person at each place you wish to film.” And finally, as to the question of whether or not you want to use university or college locations for a commercial film or programme which is not about the University of Oxford?
“The News & Information Office cannot assist with location finding for drama productions. Please contact individual locations or the Media Production Unit for more information.
Please note that production companies using University and college locations for filming of this nature will be asked for a facility fee and will be required to sign a contractual agreement with the college or department. Colleges and departments set their own fee rates; please contact the place where you wish to film for details.”
Again, it’s down to the commercial nature of the project. Big budget, high visibility projects absolutely would require permissions. A small project with no money making intention other than it being used as a marketing video strictly would still require permission but the university won’t see it as something to be as concerned about as much as the former.