SOUTHENDERS are being asked to sign up to put their homes on the big screen after the council was inundated with requests from film crews.
Southend Council is now so swamped with requests from production companies, it is asking residents to sign up to a register so their homes can be turned into sets.
The seaside has become a magnet camera crews making films, television programmes and advertisements over the past fewmonths – just last week an ad for Cadbury and a children’s TV show were filmed on Shoebury Common.
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aviva.co.uk/Car_Insurance Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and pal Jimmy Docherty filmed shows at the end of the pier and EastEnders has been in Southend, with scenes shot at the Westcliff Hotel and the airport.
Despite this boom, Lisa Ferne, the council’s tourism manager, says the town missed out on 28 shoots last year because it couldn’t find enough locations for every request, so it now wants residents and businesses to put their premises forward.
She said: “We regularly contact letting agents to see if they’re interested in working with us regarding commercial properties, but they don’t always have what we need and sometimes, by the time we’ve gone through the process of locating a property, it’s too late.
“On the residential side, we’ve had a few location crews sourcing their own properties across town, but we try to be as much as a one-stop shop as possible, because that’s obviously very time-consuming and important for them to have a quick turnaround.
“If we had a list of contacts of people saying, for example, ‘we’ve got a four bedroom house with a back garden,’ it means we can quickly let the crews know what’s available.”
She added the council regularly receives requests from production companies for TV shows, feature films, music videos and a dve r t i s e - ments for a variety of locations and buildings paying from about £100 to, in the case of the entire seafront, £10,000.
She added: “Some are quite prescriptive and there was one particular request for a quaint English house with a wagon wheel in the front garden – I spent an entire day driving around the town trying to find one and gave up in the end, because it wasn’t happening.
“But it could be anything – we’ve had requests for cricket grounds, hotels, industrial estates, country houses, even an American-style truck stop – they’re all quite different and that’s the difficulty we have at the moment.”
For more information on the database, contact Lisa at filming @southend.gov.uk or 01702 215119.
SOUTHEND’S sandy beaches and its proximity to London are big draws for filming, according to one producer.
Jordan Livermore is assistant producer at North One for Gadget Man, which airs on Channel Four and features comedian Richard Ayoade, pictured, of the IT Crowd fame.
In one episode a giant man-made sun which produced light and raised the temperature by five degrees was hoisted over the seafront on Western Esplanade.
Mr Livermore said: “We needed a beach to film on straight away that was relatively near to London and Brighton didn’t really have what we wanted because it’s very stony down there.
“It was slightly difficult to negotiate as it’s not easy to find a location which will allow you to put a crane up and hang what is essentially a giant light bulb into the sky, but Southend was very accommodating.
“The idea behind it was bringing the South of France to Southend, to take all the hassle out of planning and travelling.
“It was a bit of a mad stunt we tried to pull, but it worked very well in the end.”
EVERYTHING from Blockbusters to Blue Peter have been filmed in Southend over the years.
BBC Three comedy panel show Sweat the Small Stuff, presented by Nick Grimshaw, was in town on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, interviewing members of the public and, on March 20, underworld movie Reign of the General was filmed at the pier and Seaway car park, which was dressed up to look like an airport car park.
The film, released on June 1, sees Ricci Harnett reprise his role as former underworld criminal Carlton Leach, after playing him in 2007’s Rise of the Footsoldier. It is also Harnett’s directoral debut.
Also in March, Coca-Cola filmed football coaching for a corporate video in Warrior Square, Ford Motors filmed a sequence for its latest advert at the University Square car park, the One Show filmed a Second World War re-enactment off Chalkwell beach and BBC’s the Voice asked members of the public what they thought of the show.
Last summer the town also attracted film crews from Channel 4’s Gadget Man –with IT Crowd actor and comedian Richard Ayoade – Blue Peter, Flog It, the National Lottery and Disney UK.