Hollywood Money – How to Rent Your Home for Films

If you love an Oscar night bash, have you considered being on the other side of the camera? Acting and directing may not be in the cards, but here’s another way to get in on the action: Sign your property up as a film location.

Film scouts are always on the lookout for interesting properties across Canada. The best part? Having your home ‘star’ in a Hollywood film pays well — really well — and the perks don’t end there. From free hotel stays, to potential renovations, to glamour shots, there are a number of benefits to renting your home.

Here’s the script on making money from home, Hollywood-style:

What are Hollywood location scouts looking for?

Scouts, typically known as location managers, secure locations for productions. They’re the ones responsible for the mansion used in The Godfather trilogy, as well as the iconic family-home in the Home Alone series.

A location manager is instructed by the film’s director about the required interior and exterior shots. Some people think only mansions are selected for location shooting, but ordinary homes, even dilapidated shacks and abandoned buildings can catch the eye of a location scout. Any location considered ‘typical’ of a style is on their radar. Special architectural features, such as pools, cabanas, outdoor kitchens and grand staircases, can sell your home to location scouts.

Most film scouts are interested in homes with an open concept layout; this style allows the best possible lighting and permits the camera crew to set up in one room without losing sight of other rooms.

How Do You Advertise your Home as a Film Location?

Register your home through a provincial film agency at no charge. For example, Creative B.C., is a repository for all B.C. properties available for film shoots. In Ontario, homeowners can register through Ontario Creates. If you live in other provinces, try a Google search.

Next, consider listing your house (for a fee) on sites such as Locations Hub and Reel Locations. Scouts peruse these sites looking for potential filming locations.

Regardless of where you advertise, the key is to get noticed. You’ll need to create a photo tour of your home. Consider hiring a professional photographer. Don’t skimp. Most real estate photographers can provide still shots and virtual tours for as little as $250, depending on the size and complexity of the property.

What to Expect When you Rent

First, expect a preliminary site visit from the location manager to ensure it checks the boxes. You need to be very flexible because the location may be needed immediately. The contract will stipulate the length of time required and the fact that your home will be protected from damage throughout the filmmaking period, including insurance details. If you’re not the legal owner of the property, you cannot sign the contract.

Don’t be surprised if a three-week shoot turns runs longer. Most film crews will need a few days to prep your home and a few days to break down their equipment before leaving.

What are The Benefits of Renting to Hollywood?

The rental amount depends on the property, type of film, length of rental period, and property location. For example, a small kitchen scene filmed between two people in a standard family home in the interior of B.C. might run at $1,000 per day. Shoot that same scene in a Vancouver home and the homeowner may get as much as $7,000 or $8,000 per day.

The key is to negotiate without turning the location manager off from future dealings with you. Keep in mind that shoot days — when there are more people in your home — usually pay more prep days.

Other than the financial benefits, renting your home can come with other perks.

Free home improvement: Although filmmakers try to leave the house in the same condition as they found it, things happen. In these situations, the crews repair the damage. For instance, a 10-bedroom home in Brooklyn, New York, was used in a scene where a character was set on fire in the dining room. The actor survived but the ceiling was singed. The dining room was immediately painted, and all damage was repaired. Sometimes, crews make upgrades to your property, for example, by hardscaping the yard to create a more dramatic entrance to the porch.

Free hotel accommodation: While your home is making money for you, you will be booked into a good hotel.

Plot Twist

Despite the benefits, be aware of the stress renting your home can bring. If your home is in hot demand, consider using the services of a professional real estate agent who specializes in film rentals. After a Central Park West apartment gained popularity, on the series of the same name, because of its rooftop terrace and the stunning Central Park views, other scouts came calling. That’s when the owner decided to hire help to deal with complex rental contracts.

Because of the prestige factor, some owners may see a final perk in the form of higher bids when they sell eventually their properties. Real estate agents may use your home’s brush with Hollywood as a marketing tool to attract starstruck buyers.

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