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Tidal Thames

CASE STUDY:

KING'S REACH

/

MILLENIUM FOOTBRIDGE

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. 

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Storyboards by Keith Weir: www.keithweir.com 

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.

Get in touch today to discuss your requirements.

Filming On WATER

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

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

Get in touch today to discuss your requirements.

IN-WATER SUPPORT

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:

Get in touch to discuss your requirements.

planning / concepts

From testing concepts and ideas, to planning and consultancy throughout the production schedule, we 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 

Get in touch today to discuss your requirements.

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:

Port-London-Authority
Port of London Authority
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 plans and risk assessments.

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 all vessels require qualified skippers with local knowledge endorsements due to the density of navigational hazards and boat traffic within this busy tidal port.
Canal__River_Trust_Logo
Canal & River Trust
The Canal and River Trust 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 equipment or props by boat.
Ea.MMO
Environment Agency and MMO
For construction activities which anchor, or fix, or construct items to the seabed or riverbed, a permit is required from the Marine Management Organisation.

For activities that may impact local wildlife or ecosystems, the Environment Agency will require an Environmental Impact Assessment to be undertaken, and – depending on the nature of works – a flood risk activity permit may be required.

For most filming operations, these do not apply, however – for large scale installations in particular – forward planning is required as the timescales for obtaining the necessary permissions can be significant.

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