Star quality

Having your product featured in a film or TV drama can do wonders for its popularity.

The American TV series Sex and the City, for example, provided episode after episode of free advertising for Jimmy Choo shoes, a seal of approval that has now made them a must-have purchase.

Super Size Me creator Morgan Spurlock’s documentary POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, which was released in the US in April, confirmed the growing importance of product placement in film-making. But can the same be said for somebody’s home?

Julie Christie in 'Far from the Madding Crowd'

In Britain, many of us are drawn to the rose-covered cottage, the rambling farmhouse or the Georgian parsonage, and Britain’s film and TV production companies can be equally nostalgic. Many homes that are filmed, especially those used as the setting for period dramas, are large, period properties in rural locations.

Mill House, a Grade-II listed, period property in Dorset, was used as a pub in the 1967 film of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, starring Julie Christie. Now on the market for £695,000, the three-bedroom property’s association with the film has “persuaded” a number of potential buyers to visit, says Jackson-Stops & Staff, an estate agent.

Meanwhile, Enderleigh, a rather forbidding-looking, Gothic Victorian pile in Highgate, north London, has been used as a location for a range of projects, including Ricky Gervais’s coming-of-age film Cemetery Junction, released in 2010, and episodes of EastEnders, Waking the Dead and Holby City. It is on the market for £6m with Knight Frank.

Having a property appear on screen many times over does not automatically boost its sales price, but it can help, says William Marsden-Smedley, a director at Prime Purchase, a buying agency.

Enderleigh in Highgate, London, on sale for £6m

“Undoubtedly, if a property has appeared in a film or TV series its profile will be much greater than one that has not,” says Marsden-Smedley. “This in turn could generate a greater interest in the property and, with competition, the sale price might be pushed up.”

A connection between film credits and property values appears strongest in the US where homes with impressive cinematic histories are on sale. Like many Hollywood films, these properties can be glamorous, glitzy and often downright brash, a key reason why they get selected for filming.

Sotheby’s International Realty is marketing three filmed properties in Atlanta, Georgia. Ray Ross, an agent, says: “Film houses tend to go for about 20 per cent more than a similar property in the same area. Part of that can be traced to the desirability of the house itself, hence why it was chosen as a film location.”

Meanwhile, Beverly House, the former Beverly Hills residence of William Randolph Hearst, the publishing magnate, is being marketed by Christie’s International Real Estate. Footage from the film The Godfather was filmed here, including the scene where movie producer Jack Woltz wakes up to find a severed horse’s head in his bed. It remains to be seen whether anyone will be tempted by this dubious fame: the H-shaped mansion, on a 3.7 acre plot, is for sale at $95m.

While exposure can generate interest and even add value to a property, it cannot guarantee a sale. British couple Janne Hoff-Tilley and her late husband, Howard, had their three-year effort at restoring Castello di Brancialino in Italy recorded for the British television programme Grand Designs Abroad. “Having had my property featured on Grand Designs Abroad has been positive in terms of selling and I know the programme has generated several purchase inquiries,” says Hoff-Tilley.

However, despite buyer interest, the €1.95m property has been on the market for more than two years.

“Because it’s been on the programme it means nearly everyone looks at it,” says Rupert Fawcett, the head of the Italian department at Knight Frank, which is marketing the castle. “People have really appreciated the blood, sweat and tears that went into its restoration, so from that point of view it is very positive. But it doesn’t mean that because it’s been on television people want to buy it.”


Knight Frank tel: +44 (0)20 7629,

Jackson-Stops & Staff tel: +44 (0)1305 262123,

Christie’s International Real Estate tel: +1 310 385 2600,

Sotheby’s International Realty tel: +1 404 312 1959,

Prime Purchase tel: +44 (0)20 7881 2388,

Shootfactory tel: +44 (0)207 252 3900,

How to hire out your property

Film-makers will pay from £1,500 a day to hire your home, and a stills photographer from £500, says Jonathan King, the director of Shootfactory, a location agency.

But be warned, up to 50 crew members can descend on your home, some of whom will want to move your furniture in and out of the property to make way for props.

Location agents are looking for more homes of all shapes, sizes and ages to market to film-makers whose only constant requirement is that they be clean and tidy, says King. Properties in and around London are in the greatest demand, because that is where most film companies are based.

“Directors and location managers struggle to find new locations that work in terms of logistics, geographical location and budgetary constraints,” says King. “Many try to keep near London to keep costs down. However, if the location meets all criteria, a client will travel anywhere.”

Typically, location agents will charge 20 per cent commission on the fee paid to homeowners for arranging a film shoot.

The owners of properties used in successful films and TV dramas can cash in on their fame by subsequently letting them out to fans.

The owners of the 17th-century Château de Villette, located just outside Paris, which was used in the multi-million dollar-grossing film Da Vinci Code, now host five-day Da Vinci Code tours at the property.

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