TV filming at your house?
October 7, 2010 8:00 AM   Subscribe

A location scout slipped a letter through our mailslot - call him if we'd be willing to let them "rent" our house for the filming of a television show episode. I haven't called him so I don't know how much they might pay, or any other details. Have you ever done this? Is it an awful headache? I'm interested in hearing how it worked out for you.
posted by CheeseLouise to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
They filmed several scenes from Righteous Kill in the 2nd floor apartment of my neighbor's house. I worked from home that day to see if I could catch anything exciting. Short story - not really, though I do have a blurry-ish photo of Robert DeNiro standing in my driveway (from behind, no less!). They had set up scaffolds on the outside of the house next door draped with cloth, so they could film through the windows from the outside and/or control the lighting -- so you couldn't see much from the outside. The scouting company had come to some sort of deal with my landlord to use our driveway for catering tents etc so we had to move our cars. I have no idea how much they paid if anything.

I'd say go for it, it will probably be a pain for a day or two while they work on it but it will give you a story at least.
posted by reptile at 8:06 AM on October 7, 2010

This happened to my parents' neighbor.

It is a major pain in that all of your stuff has to be moved out into a pod for a few days. If you were planning on spring cleaning - SCORE.
posted by k8t at 8:16 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

We have a location scout on MeFi (he has a great website btw), although I don't know how often he comments. Maybe send him a MeFi mail? If you're in NYC, it might even be him that posted the note through your door!
posted by Happy Dave at 8:17 AM on October 7, 2010

I knew a guy in college whose family rented out their house in New Orleans to film some scenes of Cat People in. He seemed to think it was pretty cool, and he did get to meet Natassja Kinski which is a definite plus in my book. More recently my wife and I were staying at the Hotel Montleone while they filmed some scenes from Glory Road there. It was a big production, with streets shut down, parts of the hotel blocked off, generators, lights, cables, and so on everywhere. But the hotel did stay open and it was surprisingly little hassle for us as guests. So a big production company can pull these things off with surprisingly little disruption, although I am sure that is not always the case.
posted by TedW at 8:19 AM on October 7, 2010

If you rent, make sure your landlord is okay with it, and if you own, make sure they have full liability coverage for any damage/injuries that might occur on your property.

I have a few friends who have done this - while it's a very nice chunk of change usually (based on how long you're going to be displaced/budget of filming), a friend who had to move into a hotel for about three weeks got around (I think) $13,000 for her time/rental fee, but they also ruined her original hardwood floor and painted the walls of her bathroom (poorly) and destroyed her sofa when they were moving it back in. Luckily, she was able to get the company to refinish the wooden floors after months of hounding them but had to repaint the walls and buy a new sofa on her own.
posted by banannafish at 8:24 AM on October 7, 2010

A friend of a friend (so discount accordingly) rented their house out for the movie The Road to Perdition. I don't know how well they were paid, but it took several weeks. Notable was the fact that the filmmakers did (with permission) some serious remodeling for the film -- repainting, moving walls, adding windows, etc. I don't know if they would go to those sorts of extremes for a television show, but it is something ot be aware of.
posted by rtimmel at 8:25 AM on October 7, 2010

If it's a reputable production company, they'll be pretty skilled at getting in and out without scarring your lives too much. They should return the property to the condition they found it in (unless they've done, with your permission, remodeling work for the shoot, which you would prefer them to leave) and they're pretty expert and doing so.

If it's a big shoot, they may offer to move you out to a hotel for the duration, at their expense.

In short, it's a distraction and an upheaval, but it's often fun, rarely leaves you with more than a few good "celebrity" stories to tell and if you've got nothing better to do, I say go for it.
posted by benzo8 at 8:27 AM on October 7, 2010

I was concerned when my mother said that they wanted to use her house as a location for "Unabomber: The true story.". She went ahead with it and it worked out fine. They handled it very well. The only sign that they'd been there after they finished up was a piece of gaffers tape high on one of the walls that someone missed, and that was easily removed by employing a step stool and a fingernail.
posted by Good Brain at 8:27 AM on October 7, 2010

My father's house is in a Verizon commercial. He said it was a moderate-level pain, but that they paid him a crapton of money, so it was worth it. Find out how much they're offering and then decide.
posted by decathecting at 8:27 AM on October 7, 2010

Response by poster: As usual, I should have been more specific. We own, are in New Orleans, and have heard through the grapevine some negative experiences like those related by banannafish in terms of property damage perpetrated by the crew of Tremé, among other shows/movies. The show is House, so I don't have any idea what they're doing filming in New Orleans as they don't usually film here as far as I know. I do want to hang out with Hugh Laurie, but probably not at the expense of my wood floors that we spent 98 hours refinishing ourselves two years ago. I also realize that I will not actually be hanging out with Hugh Laurie.
posted by CheeseLouise at 8:31 AM on October 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

There is a location scout who comes around to our neighborhood regularly looking to film in homes. We received a similar letter and called the scout. Basically, he came over, told us about the project (in our case it was a televison commercial), took a look around and shot some pictures to submit to the people involved with the project. Your house may or may not be picked. We've had our house submitted 4 or 5 times but have never been picked. We were told that pay for the shoot was about $1000 - $1500 per day. This is in Dallas.

Some of our neighbors have had their homes used and it is a big pain for the neighborhood. The streets get crowded with lots of cars and trailers and extra people. The production company did provide police security during the day, though.
posted by mamaquita at 8:31 AM on October 7, 2010

Make sure they have insured all your property for loss, damage or theft. Make them deal with removing, storing, and replacing everything, though you should be there to supervise. Take care of all small items yourself, including art, electronics and jewellery. Make sure the agreement specifies that they will cover repainting, refinishing floors, replacing carpet, etc. Take pictures beforehand. Inform your neighbours in advance.

The neighbours who did this had no complaints, though the rest of us wished that the jerks who drove all the trucks didn't choose to block driveways every day -- it's not like there was a dearth of on-street parking.
posted by jeather at 8:32 AM on October 7, 2010

I just got back from an interiors shoot in Malibu - all shot in people's homes. The homeowners hired someone to stay and 'keep watch,' a 'location manager' or something like that. You may not have marble countertops and pristine wood floors, but having a crew come in with tons of equipment, things are going to get messed up even if there is someone there to keep an eye on the production. Even with tennis balls on all the tripods and blankets on the floors, there was damage. The crew wanted to screw stuff into the walls but the location manager said 'no' so they built a huge fake wall out of large flats. It is very very easy to damage a place even if everyone is on their best behavior.

You should absolutely talk to someone who does this to make sure and get the best rate, because there is a standard for this kind of thing and location scouts pray to find people who don't know the standard.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 8:41 AM on October 7, 2010

This previous question might have relevant information for you.
posted by prefpara at 8:45 AM on October 7, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks prefpara. I did search, but evidently not very thoroughly.
posted by CheeseLouise at 8:48 AM on October 7, 2010

People I've known who have worked on production shoots like this say they would never let a crew into their own homes - the destruction of flooring and walling is a problem.
posted by cestmoi15 at 9:16 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Make sure they reimburse you if they want to have a character take apart your window or something. This is House.

Most people not regularly in contact with the entertainment industry have no sense of the scale at which things operate. While I would be surprised if they did more than a day or three of filming, I would not be surprised if they took over your place for eight days and made all the neighbors hate the 90 people and 40 cars and two semis and the catering truck and insane lights and so forth. I sort of grew up around this culture (when I was a kid, TV was about spotting my school (they took over for three months and it paid for central A/C) or my dad's workplace or his other workplace or our church or the street Grandma lived on or...) and would personally pay a film crew to not take over my home. But being jaded about this kind of thing is as much a part of growing up in LA as being sure someone will buy and butcher one of your screenplays, so.
posted by SMPA at 9:18 AM on October 7, 2010

I've worked on production shoots like this and would never let them in my house. They might fuck your place up, they might not, either way they won't care and they won't remember.
As an anecdote, in my years of working on fairly large scale productions, I was never at a location that belonged to someone in the industry.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 9:45 AM on October 7, 2010

This previous question about using your house as a location for filming concurs with the answers here - there's a good chance of damage.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:41 AM on October 7, 2010

My sister's house (she lives in South Pasadena, CA) has been used for several commercials. She said it's kind of exciting but mostly a pain (since you're essentially turning over your house to someone else), but that the money was good and to my knowledge they did not have any major damage beyond having to repaint a few wall patches.

The caveat is that these were all 1- or 2-day day commercial shoots restricted to one or two rooms and exterior shots, so I don't know that there was the sheer volume of people/time/activity to result in horror-story levels of damage or inconvenience in the first place. How many days do they intend to shoot at your house? Is it just a couple of scenes, or is the bulk of the episode supposed to take place there? Do they want to use a room or two, or the whole house?

If you do think about going forward, I second all the advice about insurance, hiring a location manager, getting independent information about the going rate, and establishing reimbursement for damages or alterations (in writing, ahead of time).
posted by scody at 10:59 AM on October 7, 2010

My niehborhood gets used frequently for television shows, commercials and films. It's up to the production company, but we tend to get $1,000 - $2,000 per day for exterior filming; $5,000 - $10,000 per day for interior. Neighbors who have had interior rentals have all been impressed with the way the crews have treated their space. I have only been remunerated for exterior shots, but let me tell you, the streets and sidewalks have never been cleaner. On one shoot in September they transformed the streets, sideawalks, cars into a winter scene with fake snow, slush, etc. When filming was done they cleaned everything -- the bricks on the houses and sidewalks, the road, etc.
posted by ericb at 11:21 AM on October 7, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks so much for the great input. We have decided not to contact the scout, but we will be on the lookout in case someone else on our street gets picked - Hugh Laurie autographs all around.
posted by CheeseLouise at 1:41 PM on October 7, 2010

My parents' next door neighbors are incapable of living within their means and constantly rent out their place for filming. The whole block is disrupted by the trucks.
posted by brujita at 10:22 PM on October 7, 2010

They filmed part of an "Afterschool Special" in my house when I was a kid. It was minimally disruptive because they just wanted to shoot in the basement (reason being we had a pool table) and it was only for one day. The did use a fair amount of the rest of the house as dressing rooms for the cast, etc.

They spray-painted a bunch of murals onto the basement walls (with permission, it's an unfinished basement with rough rock wall so my parents didn't care) but didn't make any other intentional alterations. Unintentionally, they broke some old pipes in the basement (hit them with equipment) but paid to have them replaced immediately so I'm pretty sure my parents considered that a bonus on top of the payment.

We all hung around and watched the process and the actors shoot basketball in the backyard between takes. I got a bunch of autographs signed to hand out at school. A pretty fun day overall.
posted by mikepop at 5:35 AM on October 8, 2010

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