Your home the film star: let cameras in and earn £1,000

In a new series looking at ways to make extra cash, Jasmine Birtles meets the couple who gave a home to 'The Queen'
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The Independent Online

You might have just missed becoming a Hollywood legend yourself, but there is still time for your home to make it. If you live in an interesting house or flat, in the right location, you could make serious money by renting it out for filming - with day rates starting at £1,000.

Not every home is of interest to production companies, and it helps if you have a large, posh pile. But locations managers are often on the look-out for small or unusual homes for different projects.

Helene Lenszner, a locations manager, says: "Ideally we're looking for generous-sized houses with large rooms, a road with good parking facilities, friendly neighbours who won't mind the intrusion and owners who are relaxed about having a crew of 30 or 40 people in their homes, with all the cameras and equipment."

If you live in a fabulous stately home, you can certainly make a lot of money - around £2,000 a day for a film crew. But quite ordinary homes are wanted too, so long as they are not too far from London or other main film-making cities and have parking nearby and enough room for a camera crew to swing a tripod.

Some programmes - The Bill, for example - often need grotty bedsits to film in. Others require cottages in the middle of nowhere. They all love homes that have original period interiors, so if you are into Fifties or Sixties decor or you haven't touched your home since your grandparents died, consider offering it for Heartbeat or a one-off drama.

You can also hire out your property for magazine stills shots. If your home is swanky enough, you could get between £1,000 and £2,000 a day, though it will need to be a pretty special house, probably with very modern design features that would sit well in, say, Elle Decoration or Wallpaper.

Some documentaries need locations to shoot in, though they pay somewhat less. In London, documentary makers would pay around £300 to £500 a day.

Of course, it's not money for nothing. Film crews can be very intrusive and can break things you would never have imagined could be broken. However, they will replace broken or damaged items or give you the money to get your own painters and decorators in to "make good". You will also have to move out if the crew is there for any length of time, though the daily rate can make up for a lot of the hassle.

Anyone can put their home on the lists of locations managers. Contact agencies such as www.lavishlocations.com and fill in the forms that they send you. Don't expect to get crews round all the time, though. Even popular locations may only be used between 20 and 30 days a year and then mostly in the spring and summer.

Going on location with royalty

Anna and James Rankin own Micklefield Hall, a Georgian house with acres of farmland in Hertfordshire. They hire it out for weddings and corporate events; "the filming is the icing on the cake," says Anna.

They charge around £2,250 a day plus VAT for TV and film-makers, although they offer a reduction for a series of film days. "The key factor is the hall as you walk in," she says. "It was redesigned by Sir John Soane, who did Downing Street." Part of 'The Queen' was filmed at Micklefield. "It's fantastic when film companies use it," she adds. "It's really fun having crews around and we've met some famous actors."

Further viewing: Helen Mirren's Oscar-winning performance in 'The Queen' is available on DVD

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