There are several things to consider when renting your home out for a movie, advertising or television shoot. You'll need to find location companies to advertise your home and to prepare effective photo materials. You'll need to know how much insurance the production company should carry.
Advertising Your Location
The Internet has made it a lot easier to find companies that specialize in shoot locations. FilmLocations.com is one national established national company; PeerSpace.com is another. In New York City there are several local companies, among them TheProductionService.com. Los Angeles has many local companies, including the well-known Real to Real Location Service. These companies are always looking for new locations. They've made signing your house up as a potential shoot location as easy as possible. Generally, the location company's website will have a button labeled something like "Be a Host," that will take you to the location shoot sign-up page.
Promoting Your Location
The sign-up process in most cases includes downloading photos of your home. Submitting great pictures of your house is critical; location scouts review these pictures online, usually selecting several likely locations for the production company to select from. If your pictures are amateurish, poorly lit or don't show off what is unique about your home, the location company may include your home as a potential location on its website, but scouts will pass it by.
Most location scouts are given a budget. They'll try to get the best locations they can within that budget. It's not particularly in their interest to try to lower the location fee. If you've put a fee on your house, the scout will either agree to pay what you ask or will pass it by, because it's over budget for the shoot.
Fees range widely. An attractive contemporary house for a fashion shoot will be in the general range of $5,000 per day; a television or movie shoot for the same house could be twice to four times as much. It's not unheard of for unusual or high-end houses to get shoot fees as high as $100,000 per day.
Protecting Your Interests
It's essential before the crew arrives that you have a verified insurance rider from the production company that reimburses you fully . Many crews are just great; a few are not. Your rider -- the one page contract that outlines the protection the insurance gives you -- should include both liability and property damage. Usual liability riders range from $1 million to $5 million for relatively small productions, such as an indie film, television episode or fashion shoot. The property damage portion of the rider should cover the full replacement cost of your house.
Your contract with the production company should cover the days and hours of the shoot, any restrictions on where in your house the company can shoot, where crew meals can be prepared and served and especially clean-up requirements. Both the California and Washington State film commissions have good introductory guides for homeowners that outline the essential points that a location contract should cover.
To avoid disputes about property damage later, it's a good idea to spend a few hours before the shoot doing a video walk-through of your house. Occasionally, a production assistant may damage something and fail to report it to the production manager. It's also a good idea to let the production manager or her assistant know before the shoot begins which items are particularly prone to damage.
Patrick Gleeson received a doctorate in 18th century English literature at the University of Washington. He served as a professor of English at the University of Victoria and was head of freshman English at San Francisco State University. Gleeson is the director of technical publications for McClarie Group and manages an investment fund. He is a Registered Investment Advisor.