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As one of the most iconic settings in the world, the London Underground is included in many films, such as Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Bourne Ultimatum.
Recent security risks make filming in the London Underground a bit trickier, but it is still possible. Here is a brief guide on how to successfully film in this famous location.
The first thing you need to when filming on the Tube is obtaining a permit.
The London Underground Film Office has been created to help filmmakers wanting to shoot in the underground. You will need to reach out to this office and pay a non-refundable £50 fee for submitting the application if you are a student or non-professional, or £500 plus an hourly fee if you are a professional. These fees are in addition to various fees for broadcasting and the License to Publish. These additional fees typically start around £250. You are also required to agree that nothing will be broadcast or published without the express consent of the Underground.
Lastly, you will be required to obtain an insurance policy to cover any property damage or personal injuries that may occur related to your shooting. This insurance policy must cover a minimum liability of £2m. A special permit can be requested for film crews of five members or less that plan to use only handheld, portable equipment.
All permit inquiries and applications must be made online at the LU Film Office’s website, which can be found at : www.tfl.gov.uk
The Film Office states on their website that all requests for an average-sized shooting must come in at least two weeks notice. In exceptional cases special requests for expedited permission can be made, but these are reviewed on a case by case basis and only approved under extraordinary circumstances.
Filming in the London Underground is typically only permitted during the less busy hours. This means Monday to Friday is generally limited to either 10:00-15:30 and 20:00-23:30 to avoid disturbing passengers during peak hours.
Weekends are a bit more flexible and generally shooting can be scheduled during any hours on a Saturday or Sunday. Typically it is not advisable to shoot between 1:00-4:30, as this is when required maintenance work is typically performed.
Exceptions can be made if you are able to provide advanced notice at stations during times that no such work is scheduled to be performed.
There are a number of restrictions imposed upon film crews that have received permits to film.
The first restriction is that flash photography or any additional lighting is not permitted while filming on the platforms when the station is servicing the public. In certain areas, such as the tunnels, additional lighting may be used, but an official from the Film Office will need to be consulted first. These restrictions include tripods as well, which generally are not allowed for use on the platforms due to safety concerns. Additionally it is not acceptable to film anything at the London Underground that is illegal or could negatively affect the owners of the site.
These actions include, but are not limited to: graffiti, begging, using illegal drugs, use of weapons or firearms, overt sexuality or sexual actions and fare evasion.
In addition to receiving a permit for filming any scenes, you will also need to have your script approved by the London Underground Film Office. They reserve the right to reject your script without providing details, but they typically will be able to consult with you on what alterations can be made to your script to deem the shooting acceptable.
If you are worried about getting caught up in this step of the process you may submit a story synopsis or rough draft of your script before submitting an application to make sure everything should be acceptable. It remains your duty to make sure no intellectual property rights or copyrights are violated by your work as this aspect is not considered by the Film Office.
One last aspect of the shooting to keep in mind is that the Film Office specifically requests that any film crew uses equipment operated by batteries or other independent power sources as they typically require a different voltage than the Underground’s power supply. All connections of these power supplies must be supervised by a certified electrician.
If you absolutely must connect to the London Underground’s power supply with your equipment you have the option to request it in advance, but it will incur additional fees. These fees vary and will be stated to you by the Film Office per request. Using any gas-powered diesel or petrol generators is strictly prohibited by the London Underground for use in any part of the station or on any of the trains. Requests for these generators cannot be honoured under any circumstances.
All information found in this guide was found using publicly available information on the London Underground Film Office‘s website.