Often those working in freelance jobs find it hard to make a living, so you need to use your creative brain to find other ways of making money. A possible way is to let out your home for shoots. I have worked both as a location owner and then later as a location agency. Here are a few guidelines for creating the perfect location.
1. As the home owner you need to be relaxed. If you are of an anxious disposition and can only think of letting your house out in terms of the financial returns, then don’t do it .Yes the main reason people let out their property is to increase revenue, but it is not as easy as it might first appear. It helps if you can enjoy the process too. Having a film crew around can be quite a lot of fun, not only for yourself but the neighbours too, as one of my locations discovered when they had a Bollywood movie shot in their house, garden and road.
2. What does a client expect?
A location that is clutter free, and clean. Very few people live in pristine conditions, but nobody wants to hire a location that they have to clean before they can start work. Remember the less clutter there is, the less that will need to be moved, or that can get broken. In an ideal world a client will come and see the location before the day of the shoot, and in this case they will let you know which areas they wish to use and if they need anything moved. Often there isn’t the turn round time for a viewing before the shoot and so the client will expect to find what he sees on a locations web site.
3. What should you expect?
If you are with an agency and a client is looking for a particular sort of location and yours fits the bill then your agent will put your place forward for the job. He will probably put other locations forward at the same time. The client then goes back to the agent and asks for pencils on particular days for probably more than 1 location. Once you have agreed to a pencil this means that you are saying your place is free and this particular client has has a first option on using it.
4. What happens next?
Some clients will look at a number of locations and agencies before making a final decision as to where they are going to shoot. Others will make a decision by just looking at the images on the web site. Films will often have more than one viewing of the property a director and art department may turn up and then a tech reccie may take place. Once the decision has been made your agent will make a firm booking which, once made, must be adhered to.
5. Local Knowledge.
You know your location and the area in which you live better than anyone else. Either be around to answer questions or have a written list of local shops, and take aways. If possible have menus from restaurants or caterers who will deliver. Knowledge of local Taxi firms, and also bus, rail and tube routes are useful. Another useful piece of information is the whereabouts of the nearest florist.
6. House rules.
All agencies will have their own contract which will state things such as: all litter must be removed, no smoking is allowed on the property, any damage must be made good. The areas that can be used, and the number of hours will also be on the contract. Many locations like to have their own house rules that they give to those hiring their property. These may state things such as nobody is allowed upstairs or shoes must be taken off . It may give things such as the wifi code.
7. A warm welcome.
Those little extras mean a lot. For small shoots it is customary for the location to provide teabags, coffee milk and sugar, to leave out kettle, mugs and spoons. If you have the forethought to clear a space in the fridge for the client to put their own food, it is appreciated. Big filming shoots will provide their own coffee, tea and food and usually encourage the home owners to share! If your area needs them, it is always a good idea to have a stash of parking permits, to hand. Obviously the client will expect to pay you directly for these.
Before allowing anyone onto your property for filming or an event you must make sure that the client has public liability insurance to protect both your property, and anybody on your property, from damage. If you have an agent they should check this for you and most importantly check that the insurance is in date!
9.What if something goes wrong.
A location is always hired with the best of intentions but sometimes things do go wrong. A floor might be scratched or a work surface may be damaged or a fixing might be left in a wall or a piece of china might be broken. Rubbish may be left. It is very important that you let the producer and your agent know as soon as possible if any damage has been done and to take photographs. By acting with speed it means problems can be sorted out as soon as possible.
10. How much money can I earn?
This is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string. The sums earned depend on the following : First of all who is the client and where the stills, video or film will be shown? How many people will be at the location? How many hours will they be there ? How big is the location? Is it a commercial or an art film? Is it stills, film or internet? Is it editorial? As a rule of thumb commercial films will earn you the most money. The larger the property usually the more money. We are talking at the lower end about £1000 a day up to £2500 and sometimes beyond. If it is a long running series the client will expect a reduction on the daily rate. Student films are the worst paid and sometimes they ask if they can do it for free. For low fees editorial still shoots come a close second. They tend to start at £400 a day and can go up to £650-£700 and sometimes as much as a £1000 but this is very unusual.
11.What kinds of properties get let out most ?
If you are wanting to make money from your home it helps if you live within the M25. The reason for this is most film companies are based in London and the further out people have to travel the more it adds to an already long day and the costs. All kinds of locations are sought after for different styles of shoots. One of the most asked for kind of location is an average family house, nothing too smart or stylish, but warm and welcoming. The reason is, that not many of these kinds of houses are put forward for filming, as often people believe it is only big smart houses that are needed. When putting your house forward for filming it helps if there are easy public transport links and plenty of parking. For food related programs and adverts an island unit with a hob in the center is very desirable, but not necessary. Sometimes clients are looking for quirky or glamorous.
12.At the end of the day.
The client will be contracted for a number of hours, anything over and above that you will be into overtime. This will be worked out by your agent before the shoot takes place. Ring or email your agent immediately after the shoot to let them know about overtime. Big shoots often do run into overtime. So be prepared and if possible don’t organize to go out that night. You want clients to come back and for your location to be used many times. So be cheerful and helpful and not too much in their face as they are there to do a job.