PIM Project 4: Reflection at the start of this project

For the work in Project 4, I am continuing to explore the affordance of portability. But while picking up some of the outcomes or findings from my explorations in Project 3 I am moving to a different topic in terms of the story I want to pursue. A key element of portability is undoubtably the unobtrusiveness and manoeuverablity of the smart phone. I want to use this to film in situations where even just a film camera, let alone a camera and sound crew would compromise and change the situation being filmed.

The topic I am planning to explore is what it is like to work on the streets of Melbourne. As a city office worker for many years I have seen the life of the city play out as I walk the streets and I have been intrigued by many elements of the work that is done in the city. One of these elements is the people whose work space and office is the street itself.

A key element of this project will be deciding the level of intrusion or engagement I undertake with the subjects. Issues around this include disrupting people’s work, gaining permissions if interviews are used and just intruding on their private space. I have shot a number of exploratory sketches and have already discovered the challenges and potential rewards of this project. Mainly I did not have any written permission forms. With two subjects I got verbal approval, with one I got verbal approval but it’s not clearly captured and another I chose to just film and not try to interview the subjects. This gives me a good range of content for discussion especially around permission and the invasion of people’s spaces.

Arts Law Centre of Australia has a really useful PDF on filming in public places and includes this information:

Obstruction and public order offences

Obstruction and public order offences may become issues for artists or film makers filming in public if filming activity or equipment obstructs or prevents people or vehicles in a public place from exercising “free passage”. In addition to having the powers to arrest someone obstructing a public thoroughfare police may determine that a film maker is obstructing people or traffic or their behaviour constitutes harassment or intimidation. A film maker might obstruct a public thoroughfare by erecting a tripod on a busy street and then refusing to move it when asked, for example; or, by holding up a mobile phone camera in the middle of traffic, for instance.

The Arts Law Centre of Australia also has a PDF on the need for a film location release:

Many public authorities have a responsibility to ensure that private activities carried on in public areas have a minimum impact on the general public’s access and enjoyment of those spaces. For example, local councils are accountable to their ratepayers and residents for the responsible use of council resources, land and community amenities. Many public authorities operate an approval system which applies to any filming activities on their property and it may be an offence to film without first obtaining such an approval. A fee may need to be paid.

Therefore, if you are shooting in a park, on public land, or in a street you should get permission from the local council. A fee usually applies and it is important to allow sufficient time for the application process.

Some activities which may require approval from the relevant public authority include:

  • anything which will involve restricting the access of the general public to a public area (e.g. cordoning off part of a street or beach);
  • the erection of structures (e.g. set construction);
  • large numbers of people congregating in one place or parking and creating local traffic congestion (e.g. cast and crew, or trucks for catering);
  • activities creating noise and pollution risks; and
  • use of special equipment (e.g. cables on footpaths) and dangerous substances.


While this document says that if shooting in a street you should get permission from the local council, but for this filming, with no crew, equipment, no restrictions of people or vehicle, no erecting structures etc, I am thinking that I would not need permission. But I will need clarification of this.




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