'Pay up' call for Norfolk film-makers

Victoria LeggettThe beautiful beaches and dazzling dunes of north Norfolk have often provided the perfect backdrop for film makers - and now they may be asked to pay for the privilege.Victoria Leggett

The beautiful beaches and dazzling dunes of north Norfolk have often provided the perfect backdrop for film makers and photographers.

David Jason was seen bellowing from Cromer Pier in the wartime drama All the King's Men, while documentaries like the BBC's Coast have made the most of the town's sandy seafront.

Now the district council is hoping to make the area's stunning landscape earn its keep with plans to introduce filming fees.

At the moment, the local authority deals with enquiries from film makers and advertisers on a very informal basis.

While some maybe charged a small fee for car parking, others incur absolutely no cost for using the pier or one of the district's many beaches as a location.

Now officers are proposing to introduce the charges - which will vary from �100 for stills to �500 a day for feature films - to bring it in line with other land owners, including many councils, around the country.

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North Norfolk District Council spokesman Peter Battrick said: 'It is aimed primarily at film-making companies and advertisers who want to exploit the beauty of north Norfolk for their own commercial benefit.'

The plans - which will be put to cabinet members at a meeting on Monday - stress that the council would not want the charges to put off filming which could help promote the district.

Those projects, along with students and people filming for news or educational purposes, would be exempt from the fee but could still have to pay administration and parking costs.

Mr Battrick said the new process was tried out recently when BBC documentary Coast wanted to use Cromer pier in one of its episodes. He said: 'We charged a car parking fee and administration costs - a minimal charge. To feature on the Coast programme, which will show the beauty of north Norfolk and its iconic features, is in the benefit of our district and the community here.'

Kerry Ixer, head of locations and inward investment for Screen East, which finds locations in the region for film makers, said it was common for councils to charge.

She said: 'Screen East has encouraged local authorities to do that in the interest of community sustainability because the industry is quite used to paying location fees for private properties.

'If a public park is used for filming, a location fee could replace park benches, a playground or perhaps be used towards the enhancement of an area with signage or new facilities.'

The proposals would also see the property services department take on full responsibility for the filming arrangements - making the process easier and more professional for production companies.

North Norfolk's landscapes and buildings - whether belonging to the council, National Trust or private landowners - are favoured by many film makers.

Blickling Hall, near Aylsham, has appeared in films including Steve Coogan's A Cock and Bull Story while the golden sands at Holkham were walked on by Gwenyth Paltrow in the Oscar-winning Shakespeare In Love.