Movie Star

What’s your price? They say everyone has one.

We’ve had a man with a camera wandering round our house, taking photos as part of his job as a location manager. Very polite, non intrusive, careful.A good bloke. But he was accompanied by an older gentleman who had long ago forgotten manners and politeness, all conversation or handshakes unworkable because of a ‘phone welded to his ear. From the moment he walked through our front door it was obvious that he felt important, trying so hard to look in demand that it must have hurt.

He said nothing as he walked around apart from muttering his half of a conversation with someone obviously less important. Maybe it was God. He spoke in Urdu, and my knowledge of the language isn’t quite refined enough to know whether he really was talking to someone or just making it all up to look busy. Either way, he was rude. No eye contact, no conversation, no personality or courtesy, and as many smiles as he had tentacles.

This, it turned out, was the film director who had asked to come to our house to look and see if it was suitable as a location for a new movie he’s shooting. If his people come back next week wanting to go ahead, they can forget it. Their boss may have them all running scared and cowering from his self importance, but to us he was simply a comical pastiche of a director. A complete numpty.

Filming has never been like that before. In fact we’ve had great experiences. We’ve allowed our house to be used for quite a few things, from TV cop shows, through Kit Kat commercials, to the second most watched show on Netflix just now, a drama called The End Of The F***ing World. That was shot here last summer in a week of rain showers, which didn’t affect the interior filming but spoiled a garden party scene in our back yard. The stars sheltered under umbrellas held by wardrobe or make up people while the extras were locked in a van in our driveway waiting for the clouds to pass. They were only allowed out to use our garden toilet, which they broke.

But breaking things is not a problem. The very kind location manager and his staff pay for anything that goes wrong, and they usually leave any extra catering behind. This time the bottles of wine were lined up as a gift for us, but they turned out to be non alcoholic. Ditto the beers, one of which exploded in our freezer and, weeks later, cut my finger with a jagged piece they forgot to retrieve.

All our family photos were removed for filming, of course, and specially shot group pictures of the actors playing happy families took their place. New paintings appeared on the walls too because the crew can’t guarantee you have copyright on your own stuff, and suddenly you find yourself in what looks like someone else’s house.

But the upside is that friends get enjoyment from the finished show. My mate called me last week and told me he had been watching the Netflix programme. He couldn’t work out why he felt so strange. Then he suddenly jumped up as he realised he had actually been in the house on the show. Even my daughter’s school friend, who emigrated to Australia a couple of years ago with her parents, texted her saying she was watching in Sydney and had shouted out “I went to parties there.”

It’s a funny feeling knowing your home is being beamed in to houses around the world, but I promise it won’t be on your TV set while appearing in a movie made by a man with a ‘phone instead of an ear.

Shoot me if you hear me say “I’ll put up with that for the cheque.” Everyone has their price. Except when it comes to rudeness.