Using Your Home as a Film Location
Ever looked at your interesting, stylish home and thought, ‘I could see this in a film, or a commercial’?
If you are open minded about the realities of letting strangers- often, many of them- into your home, then renting it out for locations shoots- films, commercials, photo shoots- could be a decent side income.
Firstly, you will need to send in extensive photographs, ensuring there are no pets or children in them, to a Location Agent. Include the cellar, loft/attic, out buildings, summerhouse, sheds etc. If they deem your property suitable for their Locations Library, they will have you register with terms and conditions that need to be signed and agreed upon.
The location agency will market your property in their location library and also send your property details to clients when it fits a photo shoot or film brief. Agents will never publish the address of your property online. If your house receives interest, the agent will vet the company, and find out about the project. They will also inquire whether you would want your home to appear in such a project.
Before filming can start, the production company will have to show their public liability insurance. You will also need to sign a filming agreement with the production company if the shoot is secretive. The chances of potential damage may dissuade some homeowners, but that rarely happens.
Depending on the nature of your contract, you may be required to stay away from the location to avoid any footage leaking, especially in the case of a big film: most directors are very sensitive about any details of a high-budget movie leaking. However, in most other cases you can make friendly and offer tea, have a chat etc.
Generally, you will be expected to be there in the morning to open the doors and then come back in the evening as filming, or photography winds up. You can also give the key to the filmmakers, and they will bring the key to you after they have locked up the house if you do not currently reside on the property.
For most projects, you will not need to vacate the house. The film crew will only require that you stay out of their way. An exception would be if your home was used to shoot a reality TV show, you’d need to leave the house. If this happens, you will be put up in a hotel until filming is over. However, in most cases, you will still be able to access your house.
When you register your house with a location agency, you do not have to worry about people showing up at the door claiming to be filmmakers. That is not how it works. First, they will get in touch with the location agent. The location agent vets them and contacts you about the shoot. If you do not like the filmmakers or you do not feel comfortable with the project they will shoot, you just say no. That is where the discussions end. They will not get to know the location of your house unless the agent approves of it.
Like all aspects of the entertainment industry, Locations is also precarious and should not be considered as a primary income because there are no guarantees that your property will be booked, let alone on a regular basis.
Location Agencies usually work on a 20% commission for any fee that you agree on with the filmmaker. In most cases, the agency will do their best to get you the best fee. The commission they get gives them an incentive to provide you with the best rate.
The agency is responsible for ensuring that the client has proper insurance. However, you can get a damage deposit for around £300 if you insist. When they are done with the shoot, they will request their cheque back if there is no damage. In most cases, public liability insurance will suffice. Either way, you will be compensated for any damage, which rarely occurs.
Properties in large urban areas tend to get booked more, but there is a need for all types of properties. There really are no set standards for a property to qualify as each brief has different requirements, ranging from the grand stately home to the rundown city bed-sit.
There are, however, other considerations for any film crew: The client needs to know that they can find ample parking for the crew close by. If parking is a nightmare, you need to be upfront about this. The size of the rooms also matters. The camera crew will be carrying a lot of equipment with them, and they need to be able to fit it in.
Redecorating is also another consideration. Some productions may not like the wallpaper or the exterior colour of the house. As a result, they may wish to redecorate. Make it clear whether you are open to having your home redecorated. Another factor that is considered is the storage available. Some films require many props, and they need a separate storage area.
The look, size, parking and available storage are the main factors that will determine whether your property makes the cut, or not. And then, of course, the fun of seeing your home immortalised on celluloid!
By Clea Myers @camtweak
Follow Mark Summers Casting and Management