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Tidal Thames





Set in an iconic location, this feature film sequence was shot from fixed and floating location setups within one of Europe’s busiest waterways – the River Thames. 

From the outset, it was clear that a hero vessel with substantial manoeuvrability would be required, capable of precise movement at all states of tide and with an ability to hold station whilst other filming dependencies were set for each take. 


Storyboards by Keith Weir: 

All commercial filming activities upon the tidal Thames fall under the jurisdiction of the Port of London Authority (PLA) and require careful management, primarily due to the high density of both commercial and recreational river traffic operating within the Port. 

We initially provided vessel charter consultation and assisted the production with negotiation of a PLA filming licence, as well as preparing navigational risk assessments to ensure filming could take place during gaps in live river traffic movements – avoiding the need for a costly river closure. 

On the day...

We implemented a small team of marine specialists, to provide:

Live river traffic monitoring

Tidal monitoring and advice

Marine safety cover

Hero vessel action coordination

With a tidal range of up to 7m, the River Thames can be a formidable filming environment. Strong tidal streams influence vessel direction and drift, and changes to the available depth of water can restrict the areas in which vessels can safely operate. The visible extent of the foreshore and embankments also changes at significant pace as the tide rises and falls, which can impact continuity between takes.   

For this production, we worked closely with both locations and AD teams to ensure that the filming schedule accommodated sufficient time at the various states of tide required for the scripted vessel movement, foreshore and background action, without compromising navigational safety.  

Our primary role on set is "translating" between film and marine units. By understanding the factors that constrain each side, we can troubleshoot problems before they develop into bigger issues or delays, which can be especially helpful when working in dynamic locations and across changing environments with multiple moving parts.

Having personnel on site with detailed knowledge of tides and boat movements within this busy stretch of the river in central London was key to the delivery of a safe and efficient marine filming operation. To ensure compliance with PLA Media and Filming regulations, we additionally provided crew with commercial Local Knowledge Endorsements for the Port of London. 

" Whilst shooting a sequence on the River Thames, having Steffan & his team with you, you knew you were in safe and reliable hands. With an actor on a moving boat talking to another actor on a bridge where we had limited hold time, it is all about timing, communication and co-ordination. Steffan’s knowledge of the tide and boat’s movement enabled us to get our shots with ease. He communicated clearly and you knew you had an expert by your side. I look forward to working him again! "
Natalie Segal
1st Assistant Director

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Water Safety

Whether you’re shooting on a canal towpath, river embankment, or on the shoreline at a pond, lake, or beach – we can advise, implement, and monitor safety measures to ensure your working environment remains safe and controlled.

If you’d like to discuss your requirements in detail, please feel free to get in touch: 

Filming On WATER

If you’re looking to shoot on/from the water, we can facilitate getting your camera department afloat, coordinate water action and reset between takes in order to get the shots you need.

From static camera positions to tracking vessels, crane platforms, lighting barges and SFX setups – we can tailor a support package to fit your requirements.


If you’re looking to put cast or camera in the water, we have the capabilities to provide artist training, in-water support, and safety cover you’ll need to keep things running smoothly and safely on the day.
Amongst our team we have experienced operators and instructors with accreditations/affiliations with the following bodies:

If you’d like to discuss your requirements in detail, please feel free to get in touch: 

planning / concepts

From testing concepts and ideas, to planning and consultancy throughout the production schedule, we can offer a range of services to guide marine filming projects from start to finish. 

Our planning and consultancy services include: 

  • Risk assessments and Method Statements
  • Location feasibility studies and tidal access reports
  • Advising on technical accuracy of scripted action
  • Arranging artist training 
  • Finding doubles / supporting artists with special skills
  • Sourcing hero/picture boats 

If you’d like to discuss your requirements in detail, please feel free to get in touch: 

Licences & Permits

If you’re looking to film on managed waterways in the UK, you will need to ensure that the correct licences and permits are in place. We’ve included some preliminary information below about some of the most common licencing authorities and their requirements:

The Port of London Authority manages all commercial activity on the tidal Thames (from Southend to Teddington).

A filming licence is required for all commercial photography and filming, which is granted subject to the approval of the harbourmaster upon receipt of detailed navigational risk assessments and safety plans.

As one of Europe’s busiest ports, it comes as no surprise that there are a number of stringent requirements that commercial operations (including media/filming) on the tidal Thames must adhere to, and vessels operating commercially within central London require qualified skippers with Local Knowledge Endorsements due to the density of navigational hazards and boat traffic within this busy tidal port. 

For the use of picture boats (where these are not already licensed to operate commercially within the Port), there are additional vessel survey and licensing requirements, to ensure craft are fit for purpose and safe for use within the Port.

We have a proven track record of working closely with the PLA Corporate Affairs, Harbourmasters and Marine Services teams to safely facilitate the filming of boat-to-boat, boat-to-shore, action and stunts sequences within the Port. 

For filming activities on rivers owned/managed by the Environment Agency (EA), risk assessments, method statements and safety plans must be submitted in advance of an application for a filming licence. Any boats or craft used on EA waterways also require a vessel licence – this can be usually be achieved within 10 working days.

During/after periods of heavy rain, additional safety measures may be required to ensure that filming operations can proceed safely. In extreme circumstances, boat operations may have to be constrained/suspended where river flow rates exceed safe parameters for the proposed scope of operations.

Some sections of the river embankments and footpaths are owned by the EA. For filming activities where access is required to/from these areas, a separate locations agreement may be required.

The Canal and River Trust (CRT) manage over 2,000 miles of canals and rivers across England and Wales.

For filming locations within their managed waterways, risk assessments and works permits may be required, depending on the nature of the production requirements.

Access and egress can also pose a logistical challenge, and in some locations it may be necessary to utilise the waterways in order to transit large/heavy equipment or props by boat.

We have worked with CRT on several productions to provide coordination, safety, and specialist logistics solutions to facilitate safe and efficient filming operations in locations with restricted landside access.

For any activities involving swimming/immersion in stagnant or slow-moving water, we recommend that the water quality is sampled and tested in advance of filming operations to minimise risk of infection or illness. Sample analysis has a lead time of c. 1-2 weeks.

Construction activities that anchor or fix items to the seabed or riverbed require a permit from the Marine Management Organisation. Activities with a possible impact to local wildlife or ecosystems may require an Environmental Impact Assessment to be undertaken and submitted to the Environment Agency. In some circumstances, a Flood Risk Activity Permit may also be required.

These permits, licences, and assessments are primarily required for activities involving construction (including temporary works) and do not apply to most boat- or bank-based filming operations. Where filming activities involve construction, sufficient forward planning is required to ascertain the level of permissions required for the scope of operations. 

If you’d like to discuss your requirements in detail, please feel free to get in touch with us.