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Hollywood at Home: What Happens When You Let In The Film Crews?

While choosing your property can be tricky, homeowners can make up to $ 20,000 a day by filming crews in their home, real estate agents told Inman.

Michele Downing, a South Pasadena Compass agent, works in a part of California that Hollywood filmmakers have chosen for decades to portray tree-lined suburbs – Father of the Bride, Back to the Future, Lady Bird and La La Land are just some of the films were shot on the streets.

Downing herself got a taste of the Hollywood world when her house was selected for the 2004 film 13 Going On 30 starring Jennifer Garner. She and her husband earned around $ 4,000 a day for more than a week of active filming (movie schedules include prep and strike days), and friends and colleagues are proud to point this out almost 20 years later.

Michele Downing

“To this day, we still have so many people in front of our house taking pictures,” Downing said after explaining that she and her husband continue to live in the same house. “When we see you, you will apologize and we will say not to apologize and invite you.”

As an agent based in the area, Downing often hears potential buyers worry about how often filming affects their quality of life – many worry about privacy as well as the disruption of film crews in the area. However, using the home for movies, shows, and commercials is often a source of pride and passive income for homeowners.

Downing, in turn, tries to get them to see the positive sides, one of the greatest of which is the potential to make extra cash, and encourages those who don’t have to sign their house for scrutiny.

“Some shoppers who are unfamiliar with the experience or the experiences it has had may be more inclined to view it as negative,” Downing said. “I like to educate them a little more and do it positively. Once they see it as an opportunity to earn extra income, their wheels turn and they often feel different. “

Downing and her husband have a good relationship with a location scout in South Pasadena and occasionally offer their homes for commercials and other smaller projects. Since their neighbors are against most of the filming, they have done so much less often in recent years.

Michele Downing on the set of the film that appeared in 13 Going On 30. Courtesy of Compass.

Ana Cuadra, a location scoutin for Bell Productions Films in New York, said there isn’t a specific type of home that is more likely to be selected. Once she was working on the crew of a Bruce Willis film and needed what looked like a shabby New York apartment for criminals to hide in. (To make sure the property had a yard with a chain link fence and enough space for the film crew and equipment, they eventually settled on a brownstone.)

“It has to be interesting, but not necessarily beautiful,” Cuadra told Inman. “The designers sometimes have more weight than the directors and look at the properties with a different eye. You are looking for beautiful details, for rooms that are easy to light up. “

Ana Cuadra

Homes that are large with lots of windows are a plus, while too many stairs are a trip hazard and a disadvantage. Prices often vary widely – homeowners can expect $ 2,000 to $ 20,000 per day of shooting, depending on factors such as the type of home and size of the production company. Having a suburban home that is often selected for filming is also an advantage, although homeowners in a smaller town face less competition when directors choose to film there.

According to Cuadra, many homeowners in places like New York and California seek passive income this way, and location scouts often have hundreds of options to choose from. While it is often about being on a directory hoping for a call, having a good relationship with a scout can be a way to keep up with new projects opening up.

“Sometimes we have two or three weeks to find it, and sometimes we get scripts and have to find a property the next day,” Cuadra said. “We have to be ready and have a huge library of properties to choose from, but we usually already know [what we need]. When we read the script we say, “Okay, it looks like this” and reach out to the person or institution with whom we already have relationships. “

Owners have several options when considering their own home or other property to film. You can register it on sites like Reel Locations or LocationsHub and wait for someone to search for a location scout through sites like the New York Production Guide or the California Film Commission.

Sites like Peerspace, where budding photographers and videographers can book a spot for a quick shoot, have also popped up recently, allowing homeowners to upload the house like they do with Airbnb rentals – paying will likely be less attractive, but will be homeowners rather chosen.

Ana Cuadra on the set of a short film in NYC. Courtesy Ana Cuadra.

For much of the past year, the pandemic has halted most shooting schedules and new projects. Cuadra said work had almost come to a standstill by October when the film crews started dealing with assignments again.

The pandemic has changed many aspects of the filming process – Boy Scouts often avoid visiting homes to pre-screen and instead view them on video while crews are masked and stripped down to the bare minimum. Homeowners face the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, but Cuadra said many still wanted to because they relied on passive income and felt the loss of it in the early stages of the pandemic.

“When we first got requests from producers again, my first thought was ‘forget it’,” said Cuadra. “Who the hell is going to let a crew into their house? But then I got calls from homeowners and asked, “Are you back at work? I need money.'”

Email Veronika Bondarenko

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