I thought I'd recount some of my experiences 'street filming' out and about amongst the general public. I've included a few stills taken from the first roll of super8 film too. For most of the shooting, I was setting up my cine camera on a tripod, so any idea of 'stealth' filming was out of the question. I decided to just get on with it and see what happened...
I was filming around Enfield market for a while. One of the traders was really helpful and interested when I filmed the dummies on his clothes stall. But one of the fruit and veg. traders wasn't so happy ; he told me I should have permission from the market manager before filming there. Enfield Market square is apparently run by a charitable trust and they set their own terms about filming on the property. Luckily I'd pretty much filmed what I needed and moved on.
As a courtesy, I told the shopkeeper here what I was doing before filming the goods on display in his window from the pavement. He was fine about it.
ENFIELD CIVIC CENTRE:
On a weekend day I got all of the shots I needed of the exterior of the Council building no problem, the place was closed and nobody was around. I also wanted to shoot some panoramic views of the town from the top floor of the Civic Centre. One weekday morning I went in to the reception desk and asked permission there. I used the internal phone to talk to someone 'upstairs' and explain my project too them, they said they would consider my request and call back. I was called back the next day... unfortunately no permission could be given for any filming from within the Council building...
I was filming the exterior of the shop from the pavement. A shopkeeper came out and asked what I was doing. I told him I was just filming the shop's 'We Love Enfield' sign; he was fine about it. After this, a passer-by approached me and we had a nice chat about cameras and cine film etc.
ST. ANDREWS CHURCH:
I set my tripod up just inside the church grounds to take an exterior view of the church. A nice lady asked if I was doing this as 'coursework or something' I explained my motives and we had a pleasant chat about it. Then, an unkempt and suspicous gent came out and said 'You didn't film me did you..' , I hadn't, so I told him I hadn't; he went away. Then another gent came out while I was taking my shot. This turned out to be the church verger. He was quite cross with me and told me I needed the vicar's permission for filming... His biggest worry was that I might take a picture of the church that could 'end up on YouTube or something...'
I shot some exterior shots of the new library building, no problem. There is one interior shot I really would like to add to the film. I asked the librarians, and they in turn asked the library manager. The library manager said that I had to have permission from the Council's head of Library Services. I rang the Head of Library Services at the Civic Centre; she says permission can't be granted on grounds of needing permission from everyone in the shot before taking any pictures at the location.
+++UPDATE 16/12/11 I've just heard back from the Council's Head of Library Services and it suddenly looks much more likely that I can get the shot of the library interior too. Hurray : )
PALACE GARDENS SHOPPING CENTRE:
I took some exterior shots here, then ventured inside, this time using a monopod for extra speed! I did manage to take one shot here, but didn't feel too comforatable about rushing and working somewhat covertly. I have emailed the managers of the centre to ask permission to shoot from the car park, though not received any reply.
PALACE EXCHANGE SHOPPING CENTRE:
I was taking a monopod shot here when approached very quickly by a security guard. He told me no filming could take place on this 'private land', he offered that 'terrorism issues' were the main reason...
I think it highly likely now that my little Enfield film will not include any mention of the shopping centres at all. In a film about the nice aspects of Enfield Town, they seem to be especially un-welcoming places. It's my film, so I really don't feel inclined to give them any coverage..
So in conclusion, setting up a tripod and filming things in Enfield certainly attracts a lot of attention. UK law is that in public space it's OK to do all of this, take pictures or film, use a tripod, whatever ... Also, members of the public do not have any legal rights to 'privacy' of their image when out and about in public spaces. The UK surely wouldn't be one of the most CCTV surveilled countries in the world if this were indeed the case : )
The problem is that much of the space around town isn't really 'public'. The council-owned spaces (which we pay for of course) are seemingly almost impossible to 'officially' film in. Apparently the main concern is to protect the privacy of anyone that might be photographed. Seemingly open public spaces like the market square and shopping centres, (although they invite our presence as paying customers) do not welcome photographers at all.
In short, I'm not entirely surprised, but a little disappointed at these experiences. +++UPDATE 16/12/11 But very heartened by the possibility of the library shooting :) +++ My film when it's finished will show the Town in a good light, but it certainly hasn't been made any easier so far by the folks that set and enforce the 'rules' around the place. In such a risk-averse society, there seem to be plenty of 'good' reasons not to allow a bloke with a tripod and a 1970's cine camera to wander around taking pictures.
Perhaps a strange man has been filming you in Enfield Town recently? If you have been affected by any issues raised in this post, please use the comments button below...