Sites, Camera, Action!

August 3, 2021 | In the Press

We’re delighted to see our very own Andrew Reed’s interview in Property Week.

Interview with former retail agent Andrew Reed on his journey into film

By Noella Pio KivlehanThu 22 July 2021


When the new James Bond film No Time to Die is eventually released in October, look out for the man on the motorbike zooming alongside 007’s iconic Aston Martin. You might see the same face when you’re binge-watching The Crown, Silent Witness or Line of Duty.

Andrew Reed

Andrew Reed might not be a household name, but his face may well be familiar. For the past four years, he has been fulfilling his childhood dream of working as a support actor (or ‘extra’ as they used to be known).

Reed’s involvement in the film and TV industry also extends to the property world. In his day job, he runs area4, a film and events locations company he set up last year after a decade as a self-employed retail agent. “Where I used to get emails about Sainsbury’s and Specsavers, now I get emails about Spiderman and Mission Impossible, which is much more interesting,” he says.

The TV and film location sector is hot at the moment as companies seek to satisfy an ever-growing appetite for content from terrestrial and streaming services, whose viewing figures have sky-rocketed during lockdown.

There is also demand from companies that need to catch up on delayed schedules caused by the pandemic. This has prompted a scramble to find space and locations. Landlords and developers can earn thousands of pounds leasing properties and sites to TV and film production companies – and Reed is the man who can help to facilitate such deals.

Even before the pandemic, total spending on UK film and high-end TV production was growing. It reached £3.62bn in 2019, up 16% on the previous year, driven by investment from major studios and content providers.

“I feel so lucky to have made the leap at the right time,” says Reed. “I’m in the right place for once, and to work in the film industry and the property industry is a great combination.”

On location

In 2019, Reed left the retail agency world and moved to film location company Space2, off the back of his work as a film and TV extra.

“They needed someone to bridge the gap between the film and property industries, somebody who knows ‘property speak’, because for the two industries property is the common denominator,” he says.

Thanks to his work as an extra, Reed says he knew there was an insatiable demand for locations. “I could see it was a positive industry and there was so much production going on even then in 2017.”

I can’t see any immediate cooling down, and there are tax reasons to make films in the UK

When Space2 went into liquidation, Reed set up area4. “We started trading in June, although we had made contacts before then, and we have been flying ever since. We are in touch with up to 40 production companies, all wanting to find space,” he says.

The pandemic has fuelled demand for streaming services and also created a backlog as many productions were forced to shut down.

“There’s so much demand now through lockdown with so many people having subscribed to the likes of Apple TV and Amazon, all of which we’re dealing with,” says Reed.

CBRE estimates that TV companies need 2m sq ft of space for filming, storage and production offices. It adds that they will look at any type of building or area, from industrial units and churches, redundant and secondhand office space to residential sites that are waiting for planning permission and partially built developments.

Crucially for landlords, these sites are all potentially lucrative money-spinners. Reed says he knows exactly what rates to charge thanks to his experience of working on both sides of the camera.

“Word is spreading that landlords can earn quite substantial income,” he says.”We have brokered some deals on tired, old properties scheduled for demolition that have generated £10,000 and £20,000 a week.

Surplus space

“Filming activity in central London can bring in £4,000 a day. Increasingly, a lot of landlords and tenants will have surplus space they will want to generate some income from.

“We have production companies that want so many square feet, know where they want it to be, when they want it, and it’s a matter of knocking on doors and approaching agents.

“They get their clients to approve it, we then have to work out the fee situation because we structure it all, license it, carry out reccies, invoice the production company and then the landlord takes about 70% to 80% of the income.”

While landlords can generate significant revenue from film and TV production companies, they don’t always go about it in the right way.

“Film production companies are very well organised; they have block dates for filming, they book locations and actors and they work back from there,” he says. “Once that’s set, they then have to get everything else together and, at some point, they’ll need to find offices to base themselves in or prop storage areas.”

Some landlords don’t think it matters if a deal for a site slips back a month or so. It does, says Reed: “[Film and TV companies] don’t start their business when they take possession [of a site] like a normal company.

“They are already on the treadmill and property landlords take forever to sign and they don’t get that concept. Maybe the production company should start looking earlier, but landlords still drag their heels and we have had a lot of time-pressured situations where landlords just don’t get it – they need to be in there now.”

Reed concedes, however, that landlords’ attitudes are changing as “the property side is starting to book shorter-term pop-ups and more pop-up events are happening”.

He adds that he sees only a positive future for the TV and film industry. “I can’t see any immediate cooling down,” he says. “It’s growing and it’s strong, and there are tax reasons to make films in the UK.”

In short, space – and lots of it – will still be needed. As Cuba Gooding Jr says to Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, all the property industry needs to shout to the likes of Reed is: “Show me the money!”

If you have a vacant property and are interested in making revenue while it’s empty, Andrew is the one to talk to!