Country estates could cash in as post-lockdown film locations, say rural agents
Country properties could be in prime position to add some Hollywood sparkle to their incomes by putting themselves forward as alternative filming locations after lockdown, said rural agents.
Norfolk is no stranger to the silver screen. Director Danny Boyle filmed parts of his 2019 movie Yesterday here, while Elveden Hall near Thetford has been used as a prime location for films like Eyes Wide Shut and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and the Holkham estate in north Norfolk has welcomed A-list stars including Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love, and Keira Knightley in The Duchess.
Last month, it was revealed that Norfolk County Council was undertaking a feasibility study to establish how much the cinema and broadcast industries could be worth to the region and to explore “income generation opportunities for local authorities from film, television or stills shooting days in Norfolk”.
But with current social distancing measures preventing TV and film studios from shooting in more confined spaces, businesses in countryside locations could also be well-placed to take advantage of the opportunities, according to property advisors Savills.
Joshua Spink, from the rural team at Savills Norwich, said: “When Covid-19 hit, the logistics of coordinating hundreds of people working in close proximity on a range of timescales and locations meant that productions simply had to be postponed, mothballed and in some cases cancelled.
“However, there is now plenty of incentive for filming to get under way again. For owners of rural property there is perhaps more opportunity than ever to be part of the industry’s recovery.
“Film shoots in public places will be heavily regulated and studios will need to be creative in order to meet social distancing requirements. However, a rural estate or private country house provides a solution to this. Location managers can control access and movement, unit bases can be spread out in adjoining paddocks and, should there be a need, it can be quickly locked down.
“Additional space and accommodation will become a necessity for productions and will certainly lead to locations being sought further afield, which may well be advantageous to rural property owners and provide an opportunity for an interesting new revenue stream.”
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Mr Spink added that the British Film Council has published a guide to working regulations in the post Covid-19 recovery period and anyone thinking of putting their rural estate forward as a potential location needs to be aware of the guidelines and consider how to fulfil them.
“Covid-19 mitigation requirements are going to be a necessity of filming insurance for some time yet,” he said. “If you can be presenting your location as fit for filming now, this will put you a step ahead of the competition.
“The key is to be proactive. While the fair weather lasts take good photographs including fields, out buildings and accommodation showcasing the range of your property. It is also worth getting in touch with agencies who will actively promote your property around the industry.”
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