Filming in Byron

Film making and film going is celebrated in the Northern Rivers region which boasts the third highest numbers of film professionals in Australia, after Sydney and Melbourne.  In other words, the region is home the highest non-metropolitan concentration of film professionals in the country, many of whom live in Byron Shire.

Filming in Byron Shire

Filming on Council-owned and controlled land is encouraged within a framework that recognises cultural and geographic/environmental sensitivities as well as the pressures on amenity arising from the shire being an iconic tourism destination.   Key documents for individuals interested in filming in Byron Shire follow:

Pre-submission process recommended

Because certain decisions by Council in relation to film (road closures for example) may require long lead times, Council urges filmmakers to be in contact with us as early as possible.  In an effort to make the process as efficient as possible, we have established a strong relationship with Northern Rivers Screenworks which is available to assist with a range of services and enquiries. 

Start the process by being in touch:

A number of Council departments and other agencies may need to be contacted for approvals.  The Application form identifies the range of contacts. 

Properties not controlled or owned by Council

It should be noted that Council has no role in lands under the control of the Cape Byron Trust, the Department of Land and Water Conservation, National Parks and Wildlife Service and private property.  These exclusions include but are not limited to the Cape Byron Lighthouse Precinct, Wategoes Beach, Little Wategoes Beach, The Pass, Cosy Corner, Cape Byron Headland, Broken Head Nature Reserve, Brunswick Nature Reserve, Arakwal National Park and Tyagarah Nature Reserve.  Agencies and private owners should be contacted directly.

Fees and Charges

Information on Council’s fees and charges is contained in the Application form.

Other useful links

Contact the Sustainable Communities Team

Approvals for filming

If you are considering the Byron Shire as a site for film production, the following information will help you to understand Byron Shire Council’s requirements and will show you how to obtain an approval for filming.

Byron Shire Council supports the film industry by welcoming filmmakers to film in the area and this is reflected in a key partnership developed with Northern Rivers Screenworks. Northern Rivers Screenworks is an important resource for film-makers in the Northern Rivers, including the Byron Shire. Byron Shire Council has established a strong relationship with Northern Rivers Screenworks which is available to assist with a range of services and enquiries. 

Contact the General Manager on 02 6687 1599 or email gm@screenworks.com.au.

The Council also values the contribution made by the local industry professionals to the fabric of the community and wishes to encourage the employment and economic opportunities that arise from locally-based film production.

Some examples of previous filming in the Byron Shire include:

TV Commercials – Austar, Weiss Bars, Omo Washing Powder, RTA Truck Safety.

Mini-series – East of Everything Series 1 & 2, H2O Just Add Water

Movies – Morning of the Earth (1971), “Lou” (2009)

Reality TV – I’m a Celebrity - Just Get Me Out of Here, Wanted Down Under (UK), Australia’s Perfect Couple, Network 9 (2008)

The relevant policy pertaining to filming in the Byron Shire is Policy No. 3.41 “Filming on Council Owned and Controlled Land” which was revised during 2009 and adopted by Council in December 2009. Local Government Authority’s must comply with both the Local Government Filming Protocol developed by the Department of Local Government NSW and the Local Government Act 1993.

Downloads:

What permissions and approvals are required?

Pre-submission process recommended

Because certain decisions by Council in relation to film (road closures for example) may require long lead times, Council urges filmmakers to be in contact with us as early as possible.  As a guide, an application for complex filming that requires road closures and/or will affect pedestrian, residential or stakeholder access needs to be submitted at least 6 weeks before filming. If the film does not require road closures and/or will not affect pedestrian, residential or stakeholder access, you need to submit your application 7 working days before filming.

Start the process by contacting both Screenworks and Council:

Council
contact the Filming Information Officer on 02 6626 7000 or email filming@byron.nsw.gov.au.
Screenworks
contact the General Manager on 02 6687 1599 or email gm@screenworks.com.au.

What type of 'filming' do I need approval for?

Byron Shire Council has adopted the Local Government (Filming) Amendment Act 2000 definition of filming:

“….. recording images (whether on film video tape or electronically or by other means) for exhibition of broadcast (such as by cinema, television or the Internet or by other means) and includes such acts or things as may be prescribed by the regulations as being filming, but does not include:

  1. still photography, or
  2. video recording of a wedding ceremony or other private celebration or event principally for the purpose of making a record for the participants in the ceremony, celebration or event, or
  3. recording for the immediate purposes of a television program that provides information by way of current affairs or daily news, or
  4. any act or thing prescribed by the regulations as not being filming.”

Some of the exemptions listed above may still require approval for such items as the erection of structures for still photography or the use of barriers to regulate access to community land.  To avoid misunderstanding, it is recommended that any person wishing to undertake this type of activity consult with Council to ensure they meet any requirements.

Council may exempt local filmmakers from the requirement to obtain approval if they meet all the following criteria:

  • Local Resident – a person with a principal residence in one of the Shires of The Tweed, Ballina, Clarence Valley, Richmond Valley, Kyogle, Lismore or Byron
  • Total production budget is less than $20,000
  • No anticipated impact on the environment
  • No anticipated impact on the amenity of the area

Approvals process - step by step

  1. Discuss your filming project with a representative of Northern Rivers Screenworks and/or the Community Economic Development.
  2. Screenworks can provide information about locations and skilled local residents who may be available to assist with or work on the project.
  3. Council’s Filming Information Officer can answer questions about the application process, fees and charges, act as a liaison when filming is about to begin and assist in obtaining any other approvals needed by Council.
  4. Determine who the owner(s) of the land to be used are (Council may be able to assist).
  5. If the filming is to occur on Council owned or controlled land, complete and lodge an application on Council’s application form, with the accompany fees. If the filming is to occur on other land, follow the appropriate process for the organisation or individual owning or controlling the land.
  6. Where filming will require the approval of other authorities such as the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Marine Parks, Waterways Authorities, Cape Byron Trust, Department of Land and Water Conservation, Private Owners, Roads and Traffic Authority, or Police, the applicant is to obtain that approval and provide details with their application to Council.
  7. Council will acknowledge receipt of the application within 7 days.
  8. The application will be processed and written approval or otherwise for a filming licence will be issued. Council may grant unconditional approval or approval subject to one or more conditions.

Council understands that lead times for notice of filming activities need to be flexible as many productions change schedule and locations at short notice. Byron Shire Council will endeavour to accommodate all reasonable requests. Communication between the filmmakers and Council staff needs to be regular, particularly notification of changes to schedules. No additional fees will be payable for this process provided the total number of filming days does not exceed that originally outlined in the application.

Identifying the owner of the land

Identify who owns or controls the land - including, but not limited to the following:

Fees and charges

Council may recover costs associated with filming approvals from services provided by the council and for the hire of constructed facilities such as town halls, community centres and swimming pools. In some cases, fees may be waived.

The following is a guide only and is subject to change.

Description

2010/2011 $ Charge

Filming application fees

Ultra Low (fewer than 10 crew)

No charge

Low Impact (10 – 25 crew/ no more than 4 trucks)

150

Medium Impact (26-50 crew/ no more than 10 trucks)

300

High Impact (>50 crew/ >10 trucks)

500

Assessment of Traffic Management Plans

Low Impact (stop/go traffic control on local roads)

100

Medium Impact (stop/go on multi-land or state road/ Police & RTA consultation)

300

High Impact (road closures/ Police & RTA Consultation)

500

Other fees and charges

Bond

By negotiation

Remediation

Cost set on case by case basis depending on damage/ remediation required

 

You may be charged a bond. This bond is refundable following inspection of the land and certification by Council staff that the reserve has been left in an acceptable condition and that Council will not incur any costs as a result of filming (eg rubbish removal, cleaning of public amenities or repair of damage to the reserve or any of the structures or facilities on the reserve).

Parking and traffic

A detailed outline is to be provided of the number and size of the production vehicles, parking, and any use of heavy equipment. 

If the filming is to be conducted on a Council road, specific details of filming times and duration of any hold and release, and/or use of RTA authorised traffic control officers is to be submitted to Council in a traffic control plan.

If a road closure is required or the filming is in an area which normally has high traffic volumes, the filmmaker may also need to consult with Police, RTA and the local community.

Where road closure is required, the closure will need to be advertised in the local newspaper a week before the proposed time.  Application for extended road closures may be referred to the Traffic Committee, and if so, the applicant must provide sufficient time for the application to be considered by the Committee.

If the applicant seeks vehicle access to a beach, the number and activities need to be included in the application.  If the application is approved, a separate beach vehicle permit and fee for access will be issued.

There is paid parking in Byron Bay for non-residents. Parking permits in relation to the filming production may be requested.

Bonds and site restoration

The licence agreement Council will ask you to sign includes the applicant’s responsibility to restore the film location(s) to its original state. In some cases, a bond may be required and this will be refunded provided Council is satisfied that this requirement has been met satisfactorily.

Other considerations

Timing – the Byron Shire is fortunate to have a rich cultural fabric and this is expressed through many celebrations and events. There are some events, and peak tourist times, which attract more than double the residential population of Byron Bay and Council considers filming at these times of the year to be undesirable.

Acknowledging local Aboriginal culture – Byron Shire Council works closely with the local Aboriginal people from the Bundjalung Nation, and particularly the local Arakwal people. Council asks filmmakers to respect and acknowledge the local Aboriginal heritage, traditions and special places by consulting with the appropriate people where relevant. Council can facilitate contact with the local Aboriginal community.

Byron Shire Council desires the following acknowledgment to be made where any launch or speech in relation to filming in the Shire are made:

With respect I honour the traditional Bundjalung owners of the land where I am speaking today, their elders and their children, and I thank them for allowing me to be here”.

The policy “Filming on Council Owned and Controlled Land” outlines other considerations which need to occur:

Advertising requirements and costs

All residents and businesses within the vicinity are to be notified in writing by the applicant at least five days before filming begins.  The notification must include the name of a contact person on site to handle complaints, and details of the filming including whether firearms, aircraft, stunts or explosives are to be used.  The start time for set up and hours during which filming takes place will also be specified.  The applicant will need to prove to Council’s satisfaction that this notification process has been satisfactorily undertaken.  Council may require extended notification time if the location shoot is considered extensive.

Private property access

Where filming is confined entirely to private property, a licence is not required and no fee will be charged.

Filmmakers must notify council when filming is entirely contained within private land, as required by SEPP4, and are under an obligation to notify surrounding residents and businesses. (Please note that SEPP 4 specifies that a private property must not be used for more than 30 days in a 12 month period.) However a formal application is not necessary unless there will be an impact on public land (such as stringing or laying cables, vehicles parking in the street, and so on). In this case, an application will need to be made and approval conditions followed.  Further, Council approvals may be required (for example in relation to the construction of structures on private land).

Filmmakers responsibilities

The Local Government Filming Protocol outlines some filmmakers’ responsibilities:

Other useful contacts and links