Filming, photography and recording policy

Date of approval: 17 March 2023

St Catharine’s College is primarily a place for our community members to live, work, and socialise. It is private property and while we recognise the benefits and opportunities of allowing selected filming, photography and recording to take place, these need to be balanced against the potential impact on community members and College life.

This policy applies to anyone wishing to film, take photographs, or record audio on St Catharine’s property. This includes students and their families, Fellows, staff, choir members and their families, conference customers including B&B guests, contractors and all other visitors.

The impact of this policy will be monitored. Amendments may be proposed to reflect changing technologies or deal with specific issues.

This policy does not apply to the College’s own CCTV system, for which a separate policy exists.

Questions about this policy should be directed to the Communications Manager (

Key definitions and scope

For the purposes of this policy, the following terms will be used:

Filming/photography/recording – the capture of moving or still images or audio files on College property by any means and on any media available now or in the future, including cameras, mobile phones, drone-mounted cameras, webcams, voice recorders or any electronic transmission to another medium or the internet.

The words ‘film’, ‘filming’, ‘filmed’ and ‘filmmaker’ will cover filming, photography and audio recordings for the remainder of this policy.

General principles

Filming that DOES NOT require permission

The College site and buildings are private property, and individuals should be able to go about their lives with the expectation that they are not being filmed. Keeping that in mind, there is no need to make a permission request for filming that meets all of the following conditions:

  • It will take place in the areas of College’s outside grounds visible to the general public or within an individual’s own room or their shared accommodation area
  • Only people known to the filmmaker, and who know where the film will be disseminated, will be recognisable in the film; if the film becomes likely to be disseminated more widely than first discussed, the people involved will be contacted in advance and their permission reconfirmed in writing
  • There will be no individuals under the age of 18 recognisable in the film without written permission from their parent/guardian
  • There will be no disruption to College life
  • Only handheld, battery-powered equipment will be used
  • It will not be for commercial purposes, which for the purpose of this policy includes monetised YouTube channels or content associated with paid-for social media partnerships/affiliated advertising.
  • It will not use the College’s name, branding or imagery in any way that implies College endorsement or official authorisation

In addition, it is expected that any filming undertaken at a College property by the Communications Manager as part of their job description will not require permission.

Filming that DOES require permission

For filming which does not meet all the above conditions, an official permission request form must be completed and submitted online. Submissions will be received by the Communications Manager, who will consult with other stakeholders and escalate the request as necessary.

The College has a filming, photography and audio recording fee scale. Please read this document before submitting a permission request form.

Filming requests should be submitted as far in advance as possible. Except for news media requests, a lead-in time of at least 10 working days is required. While we try to be flexible, short-notice requests may not be granted due to availability and the need to consult with various College departments to avoid clashes with other events or permitted filming.

Permission is much less likely to be granted during examination periods or at the same time as major scheduled events.

Permission must be sought for each incidence of filming by any individual, group or organisation. The College will grant permissions for specific dates and times to avoid conflict with any other events or the life of the College.

When reviewing requests, due consideration will be given to their potential impact on the mission and reputation of the College and on the welfare of the College community. Requests can be refused without citing a reason.

If filming is likely to cause noticeable disruption, the College community will be informed in advance both when and where filming will take place.

Standard terms and conditions for all filming

These conditions are not exhaustive. Additional clauses may be applied on a case by case basis when permission is agreed.

  • Every person on College property has a reasonable expectation of privacy and should not be included in any filming without being:
    • asked in advance for their permission, ideally in writing
    • OR
    • notified via perimeter notices that authorised filming will be taking place in specific areas
    • AND
    • given the choice to opt out of being filmed.
  • Unless explicitly agreed in writing in advance with the Communications Manager:
    • non-commercial filming projects may not use the College name, branding or imagery in any way that implies College endorsement of, or involvement with, a third party, product, service or activity
    • commercial projects may not use the College name, branding or imagery at all
    • commercial or non-commercial filming is not permitted during formal dinners between Fellows taking their seats and leaving the dining room/Hall.
  • All documents including films acquired, received or made by employees of the College during the course of employment shall be the property of the College, and shall be surrendered to someone duly authorised in that regard at any time upon request or in any event upon the termination of employment.
  • Filming permissions are only granted for pre-agreed rooms/locations – they do not extend across the College’s estate.
  • Agreed filming schedules and timings must not be changed without prior discussion and additional written permission.
  • Apart from drama productions, filming must not contain any material of an explicit, offensive or illegal nature.
  • The use of facsimile weapons, special effects, pyrotechnics, sound or special effects which could cause alarm must not be used without prior agreement, and filming leads will need to provide a risk assessment for the College’s Health & Safety Adviser to review and approve before agreement can be given to proceed.
  • Depending on the scale of the request, filming leads may need to provide risk assessments and method statements for the College’s Health & Safety Adviser to review and approve in advance of filming.
  • Drone use must meet the criteria laid out in the section below on ‘Drones’.
  • The College’s Health and Safety protocols require that anyone filming in College must take reasonable care for both their own health and safety and that of others. They must ensure that:
    • walkways, fire exits and fire escape routes are kept clear of people and equipment at all times
    • electrical equipment brought on site is safe and PAT tested
    • electrical points are not overloaded
    • wires are taped down or firmly secured to avoid causing a trip hazard in a way that does not damage College property, decoration or furnishing.
  • Anyone engaging an outside supplier to film on their behalf is responsible for informing them of these guidelines and ensuring that they are followed.


As a minimum, anyone filming at St Catharine’s will ensure that their own insurance policy covers the risk of damage to any equipment used on-site. Equipment will also not be left unattended.

Apart from non-commercial filming by current students, Fellows, and staff members, insurance must be in place to cover the costs of any injury or damage caused to people or College property. Details of public liability insurance must be provided before filming can go ahead by:

  • The relevant institution, society or individual, whether commercial or non-commercial, which has commissioned the film OR
  • The individual filmmaker, including current students, Fellows and staff members working on commercial projects, OR
  • The professional contractor.

Filming at events

In addition to the relevant booking process, all event organisers should complete an official permission request form if they intend to film any part of their event.

Any media requests to attend or be involved with events held in College must be emailed to the Communications Manager at least five working days in advance, unless shorter notice is planned with prior agreement.

If a room hire booking is made solely for the purpose of filming, it will be treated as a commercial request, unless it is explicitly stated that it is not commercial at the time of the booking.

Event organisers (including for weddings) are responsible for:

  • giving attendees advance notice that filming will take place, ideally in writing
  • displaying signs at event entrances stating that filming will be taking place, how footage will be used, and where it will be published (a standard perimeter sign template can be downloaded)
  • making an announcement about filming at the start of the event
  • giving individuals the option to not be included in published footage, either by wearing an identifier such as a sticker, badge, or lanyard, or being shown to an agreed area where filming will not take place.

College-commissioned filming will take place at major events such as matriculation, graduation, and open days. Written notices and/or perimeter notices will inform attendees that filming will take place, how it will be used, where it will be published, and how to avoid being included in published footage.

Shared promotion

The College may ask to be supplied with film stills or copies of photographs to use in College communication channels and file in our archives free of charge, with an agreed acknowledgement/credit given in return. Copyright will remain with the originator.

The filmmaker will notify the Communications Manager when the film will be published.

Social media influencers

Influencers in higher education often attract a significant number of followers. While the College does not officially endorse influencer channels, we recognise the benefits of them giving an insight into personal experiences of College and University life. We wish to support this, while also protecting the privacy and safety of individuals.

If you are an aspiring or established influencer, please:

  • get in touch with the Communication Manager who will be happy to find out more about your channel(s)
  • submit a permission request form in advance if you wish to film any commercial work in College
  • ensure that any published film that has been recorded in College, including in your own room or shared communal areas, only includes people who have given you their express permission, ideally in writing
  • avoid publishing information such as full names, exact details of your staircase/address, or other personally identifiable details to keep you and others safe
  • take notice of the Advertising Standards Authority code for social influencers if you are taking payments for product placements/endorsements.

Media requests

All filming requests from media representatives and production companies, including student media organisations, must be directed to the Communications Manager at the earliest opportunity.

In most cases the representative or company will be asked to submit a permission request form, which the Communications Manager will review and escalate if necessary.

If a media representative is attending an external room hirer’s event:

  • filming will only be permitted in the room(s) included in the booking, and
  • requests to film in any other area of College must be made in advance in writing and approved by the Communications Manager.

All media representatives and crew must sign in at the Porters’ Lodge and be chaperoned while in College. This may be by a staff member or Fellow and will be agreed in advance with the Communications Manager.

A filming fee and/or a room hire fee may be applicable.

Commercial requests

Requests that will commercially benefit an organisation, even if the organisation is academic or not-for-profit, will be treated as a commercial request and fees may be applicable. This includes requests to use any part of the College as a set for a film, interview, advertisement, photoshoot or podcast.

The filming, photography and audio recording fee scale should be consulted before submitting the permission request form. Room and space hire fees are negotiated separately with the Conference Office as appropriate.

All commercial requests should be made at least 10 working days in advance. Requests will only be considered when:

  • a completed filming request form has been submitted
  • dates and locations are available and will not disrupt College business
  • it has been confirmed that parking for any essential vehicles can be accommodated
  • proof of public liability insurance valued at no less than £5 million has been provided
  • where appropriate, a script or synopsis has been provided.

Filming taking place over multiple days, in various locations across the College site or out of standard office hours has the potential to be more disruptive. More complex requests should be made at least four weeks in advance.


Filming may only take place on the day that a marriage ceremony is held in College. Locations must be chosen to minimise disruption and the schedule must be agreed in advance.

All permission requests forms pertaining to filming during the ceremony or within the Chapel will be referred by the Communications Manager to the Dean of Chapel, who will liaise with the Director of Music as required; additional fees may apply.

Wedding organisers are responsible for liaising with College personnel in advance to ensure that suitable notice is given to attendees about any filming, including perimeter notices.

The College does not accommodate engagement shoots or any other wedding-related filming for couples who are not holding their marriage ceremony or wedding reception in College.

University requests

Involvement in University projects can be very beneficial for the College. Representatives from the University of Cambridge should complete the permission request form for any filming on College property. Depending on the nature of the request and impact on the College community, a fee may be charged.

It is common for the scope of work undertaken by the University’s official filmmakers, either from or commissioned by the Office for External Affairs & Communications, to include activities that do not require permission. It is expected that they will consult with the Communications Manager in writing in advance to avoid duplication or undue concern.


Drones and other unmanned aerial systems may be used for aerial filming, survey work or research purposes. Due to regulatory, safety and privacy issues, drone flights must always have advance permission and adhere to the Civil Aviation Authority’s rules and regulations in respect to drones. Any unauthorised use will be reported to relevant College officers and appropriate action may be taken.

Before a drone flight can be authorised, a permission form must be submitted, as well as proof of:

  • a pubic liability insurance policy with a value of no less than £10 million
  • CAA Permissions for Commercial Operations
  • Cambridge International Airport agreement for flight(s)
  • a Risk Assessment of the proposed operation.

We will also require agreement in advance that:

  • intended flight path(s) the drone will fly along, including launch/landing points, has been approved by the College drone liaison
  • the drone will be operated at a respectful distance away from windows, with no filming to be focused into internal spaces or private gardens
  • the Communications Manager will be able to view the footage or final film to highlight any issues, which will then be rectified before publication
  • final footage will be made available to the College for use in its own projects, with accreditation given.