Filming and photography
You may require a permit to film or take photographs on public land in the Surf Coast Shire. This includes for television shows, feature films, advertising and television commercials, documentaries and music videos.
Exceptions are for filming of news/current affairs pieces, and for personal filming/photography (including filming for private events that occur on public land).
The permits are to ensure your activity complies with our regulations and doesn't cause any safety issues for members of the public.
Which land manager should I apply to?
Council is not the only organisation responsible for the management of areas around the shire, where you might want to film. For example, if you would like to film or photograph at Torquay beach, you would need to contact the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority for your permit and you would not need to contact the Surf Coast Shire Council.
Listed below are some popular areas for filming to help you find the right people to contact for your permit, or you can view the map showing land management responsibility for coastal beaches(PDF, 10MB) (note this doesn't include inland areas):
- 37kms of our beaches and coastline (except Bells Beach Surfing Reserve) Phone: 03 5220 5055
- The balance of our coastline (except Bells Beach Surfing Reserve). Phone: 03 5220 2002
- The Great Ocean Road itself and other major roads in the shire. Phone: 03 5225 2558
Surf Coast Shire Council
- Bells Beach Surfing Reserve (Note that commercial filming is not permitted at Bells Beach. Some rare exceptions may be made if the filming relates directly to specific elements of Indigenous culture or surfing culture).
- Council-managed roads
- The townships themselves (but excluding the beaches)
Contact us as soon as you think you might want to use a Council-controlled location, regardless of the size and nature of your proposed project. Early contact to confirm who is the land manager can save delays later.
If you're still unsure who to contact about your permit, you can fill in our filming and photography enquiry form and we can point you in the right direction.
How to apply for a filming or photography permit
To apply for a permit, please complete and submit this film permit application form.
Once submitted, your application will be reviewed within five business days. However, if your filming activity is complex, it may take longer to issue a permit.
If you're unsure whether you need to apply for a permit, please fill out this filming and photography enquiry form.
Film and photography permit fees
A filming and photography permit does not normally incur a charge. However, if the permit application is complex and/or the filming or photography is ongoing, there may be a charge to cover additional costs in preparing the permit. This cost will be outlined on application.
Smaller-scale filming and photography projects
You still need to contact us if your filming and/or photography activities are minor and ‘low impact’, but you may not need to provide as much detail in the permit application.
Low impact filming activities are:
- a filming activity of four people or less (including all production crew and talent)
- using no more than one camera, one tripod and handheld sound recording equipment
- those where reasonable public access and public safety needs to be maintained at all times (such as on public pathways, footpaths and roads that must not be blocked)
Early contact can streamline the process, however, we will still require proof of your current public liability insurance and the basic details of when and where you plan to film.
Filming with Remote Piloted Aircraft (Drones)
Council does not have any specific local laws about flying drones, however the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) guidelines do apply. If you are flying for commercial purposes, you might need a film permit from Council or another authority like the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, depending on the location (please see tab 'Which land manager should I apply to?').
View Drones Guidelines
* Approval is generally linked to an approved model flying association and its members.
For more information, please contact:
Communications and Community Engagement
Surf Coast Shire Council
PO Box 350 Torquay
Telephone: 03 5261 0600
If you'd like a response from us, please give us your email address.