Filming in a vacant building

Filming is very flexible. The right site can be up and running as a film location in days and returned to the owner in its original state equally quickly. 

As meanwhile use for a vacant building, filming ticks many boxes. It can make an empty site entirely cost neutral, with revenue covering running costs including security, utilities and insurance. Filming can also cover the business rates of an empty property, or trigger rates holidays of up to six months for industrial sites.

Filming is often welcomed by local councils for the inward investment brought to a borough or region by film crews. When compared with other less constructive rates mitigation strategies, it can therefore help maintain positive relationships with councils when this is critical to safeguarding long-term plans for a building.

In many cases, filming will not only cover costs but generate revenue for a building which can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds annually. With the right building, filming can also sit alongside other revenue generating activity such as events.

Our team are highly experienced in taking a vacant site and quickly activating it for production use. In addition to ‘front of camera’ filming, this can include use as ‘behind the scenes’ space; set build, desk space, workshops, or costume and prop storage. We are proud to work with a large number of property developers and we understand the complexities of placing filming into ‘in development’ sites. Each production must complete a comprehensive Risk Assessment and Method Statement and provide proof of Public Liability Insurance to a value of at least £10m before they are permitted access.

We work with every major production shooting in London as well as a wide range of smaller scale projects including TV commercials, music promos and photoshoots. By listing with us you can be confident of securing the right type of enquiry and the highest possible filming revenue for your building.

Frequently asked questions

  • Q. How long should a property be vacant to secure filming hires?

      A. In general, the most lucrative hires (where a production is looking to base or build sets on your site) will last for five months or more, with nine months being the usual life cycle of a feature film or high-end TV show. However, we have also been successful at securing a series of shorter-term filming hires (which can last as little as a day) for sites with more limited availability.

  • Q.What types of vacant building are best suited to filming?

      A. The ideal site includes a large warehouse (for set build), office space and additional space for workshops and storage. Brick built, pillar-less warehouse spaces with a height of 27 ft + are perfect, but smaller or pillared spaces can work. London is very short of spaces like these so productions are great at being creative with what they can find. Any of these spaces (warehouses, offices or ancillary spaces) can be of filmic value in isolation or in any combination. Buildings like former courts or police stations which have texture, interesting corridors and lots of interconnecting rooms work well as they can also be used as front-of-camera filming locations.Access is very important. Location wise, ideal sites are within the M25 or just outside and to the north or west of London, within 30 miles of established studios such as Pinewood and Leavesden. An ideal site is easily accessible for heavy vehicles, with large areas of hard standing to service productions.The perfect site is also relatively quiet.

  • Q.Do film production hires need utilities on site?

      A. Shorter term filming productions can provide their own generators, but for longer term set-build or production base hires, some level of utilities will generally be preferred. For the right building and the right length of hire, it is more cost effective for productions to reinstate some utilities themselves. Productions will expect that any utility bills are passed on to them, either directly or via their weekly hire fees.

  • Q.What other work may be needed to get my site production ready?

      A. Every site is different and our team look at each individually to develop bespoke recommendations. This may mean anything from installing sound proofing, to erecting temporary structures on site (planning approval allowing), to fixing leaks, to removing rubbish and scrap metal, to repainting and freshening up a space.We will advise on how each suggestion might increase revenue generating potential, but will take your guidance on how much or how little work you are comfortable with. Whatever is agreed, our team will be on hand to support you through this process, and will ultimately work to secure maximum film production interest for your site.

  • Q.How much work is needed from me to facilitate filming activity on site?

      A. Accommodating filming shouldn’t take a lot of work from your own staff. All production liaison and paperwork will be looked after by your dedicated Account Manager, and we can also supervise recces and provide site liaisons for filming days. Each client has different needs when it comes to on-site support and we will tailor our offering to you.

  • Q.What if the building contains asbestos?

      A. Any production hiring your site will want to see an up to date asbestos report for the building. Productions may wish to carry out works on site to temporarily transform the building into their ‘set’. If this is the case and there is a risk of asbestos contamination, the production will be required to accept liability for this work, and to consult with their own asbestos specialists before any such work takes place.

  • Q.Who is liable if someone is harmed on site?

      A. Our clients vary in terms of the level of liability they are comfortable accepting, but if any member of a production team is harmed on site as a result of a production’s own negligence, this is covered by the production team’s own PLI as standard.Obviously, there are common law duties of care expected of a property owner allowing others on to their property. Our advice is that you inform us of any potential risks you are aware of relating to a building, no matter how small, and we will relay this information to any interested party. This passes responsibility to the production while providing them with the information they need to make safe decisions.

Vacant sites have been hired through us by

Location Collective have been extremely proactive in generating filming interest for the former Honey Monster Foods Factory, and have been effective and efficient in making the site ready for film use. I hope this is the first of many projects Galliard Homes will work with them on.

We really enjoyed working with the Location Collective team. From the minute we met them we could see how passionate they are about what they do. Offering to clear the school for us and to cover the cost of this upfront made it a very easy decision to take the leap and give filming a try, and it was exciting to see the film crews in action on site. The funds that filming helped generate for the school are greatly appreciated.

We have enjoyed a long and extremely successful working relationship with Location Collective who have taken brilliant care of Langleybury Mansion throughout our partnership, consistently and proactively placing Langleybury front and centre with the film industry to make the site truly iconic as a filming location. They have effectively managed a diary of multiple filming ‘pencils’, have ensured productions take good care of the site, and have worked closely with our on-site team to ensure hires go smoothly. I have no doubt we are in the safest possible hands for filming with the Location Collective team.

Myself and my business partner have had a long and fruitful relationship with Location Collective. We enjoy the experience of hosting film productions at the House of Detention, and we have seen a steady stream of quality filming and events enquiries over the years. The team understand the site and its challenges well and we appreciate the fact that they are able to oversee any filming recces themselves, which makes the whole process much more convenient for us.

The team at Location Collective have made a great contribution to helping us achieve our long-term ambitions for West Horsley Place. They are knowledgeable and helpful, and seem to have their fingers very much on the pulse of what is happening in the film world. We have secured some fantastic hires under their care.

Securing Blithe Spirit at Joldwynds has provided valuable income to support our restoration works. We have found our Account Manager to be professional, knowledgeable and supportive throughout the filming process.

Contact our Acquisitions team