Money to be made from giving your home a TV role: Mary Wilson puts house owners in the picture about location filming

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The Independent Online
IF YOU can't sell your home, why not put it to work? Location companies are on the perennial lookout for suitable houses for commercials, television or film work. It doesn't necessarily have to be something spectacular or chocolate-boxy. Ordinary homes are needed, too.

Kell Gatherer, of Location Works, says: 'What we really need is dereliction - houses close to London that have a faded grandeur.

'The trouble is we are very good in Britain at doing places up. What we are looking for are houses that haven't been renovated'.

A property within the M25 is what location companies look for unless it is something particularly unusual. Further away their costs get too high - overtime, hotels, transport. However, if a production needs a coastline or dramatic scenery they will obviously have to look out of town.

Heidi Locher has had her Highbury penthouse in north London photographed several times in the past couple of years. Most recently it has been filmed for the next series of Lovejoy, to be shown on BBC television in the autumn.

Ms Locher is an architect. She and her partner Richard Paxton, who designed the warehouse conversion, have office space on the ground floor.

The apartment has what Anna Webber, of Lavish Locations, says is right in vogue at the moment - a minimalist home with space and the feel of a New York apartment - and a swimming pool.

'I have to say that Lavish Locations have always been marvellous,' Ms Locher says. 'You have to realise that you face total disruption, but if you are friendly towards the production company they will treat you with more respect. I have always found my flat cleaner and tidier than I left it.'

Going rates vary from pounds 50 for a shoot for a magazine to pounds 300- pounds 3,000 for television, film or commercial. It all depends on how large the budget is and how much they want your home. Whatever your property is like, the rooms must be large enough to accommodate up to 30 people and you must be prepared for complete chaos for a few hours or days.

Any bona fide company should have an insurance policy indemnifying it up to at least pounds 1m to cover any eventuality, and should be happy to sign an indemnity form accepting liability for any misfortune.

Do be careful, though, if a location manager knocks on your door. There have been cases of people asking for money to register your home with no intention of ever using it. Genuine location agencies do not charge for keeping a picture of your property on file.

Mahmood Givraig, who owns the Blooms chain of florists, was approached by a company saying they were interested in his premises for film or television productions.

'They first rang up saying could a young lady come round,' he recalls. 'They said I could get pounds 1,500 a day if the shop was suitable. She had a look round and said the shop would first have to go on to their register at pounds 250 plus VAT, plus 25 per cent of any income. I wasn't convinced, especially as they would not give me the name of any production companies who had used them or other locations they had used.'

Normal fees charged by location finders are between 10 and 15 per cent when the property is used, and any reputable agent would be more then happy to give examples of past work and locations.

Mr Givraig rang a locations company in the Yellow Pages to try to check the company out. By chance he got hold of Anna Webber, director of Lavish Locations and secretary of a new association, the Guild of Location Managers, which was started up a year ago to safeguard against this sort of situation.

She explains: 'Basically, it is a way of insuring that wherever a location manager goes he will have some sort of credibility. There are many bona fide managers who are still not members, but anyone who is approached and is worried about that person's credentials can ring me up. I'll be able to make a check on them.'

Location Works, 071 434 4211; Lavish Locations and Guild of Location Managers, 081 744 2997; Eureka Location Management, 081 870 4569; West Country Locations, 0884 820888.

(Photograph omitted)

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