Can you picture your Los Angeles area home or business as the backdrop to a pivotal scene in a popular film or TV show? Do you ever find yourself imagining what you could do with the extra cash from leasing your property to a film production? As exciting as the idea of being a film host may be, you may have no idea how to offer your property for filming.
FilmLA regularly receives calls and emails asking about how to list a home or business for use in films, television shows and commercials. As the official film office of Greater Los Angeles, FilmLA oversees the permitting process for on-location filming in many parts of the region. However, while our LocoScout location library makes searching for camera-ready public properties a breeze, we don’t currently market or promote privately owned properties to filmmakers. And while FilmLA staff cannot individually guide owners through the process of leasing their properties, we are happy to point you in the right direction so you can either do it yourself or find professional representation.
Your First Step – Get the Guide
What Will the Neighbors Think?
If you’re reading this, you probably already have considered the many benefits of leasing your home or business for filming. In addition to helping to keep Los Angeles as the film industry’s preferred location, you could have a chance to earn some extra income and bragging rights when friends and family see your property on screen. But what about your neighbors?
Although FilmLA is not involved with promoting private properties for filming, balancing the needs of filmmakers, the community and government is our mission. We believe all filming should be conducted with professionalism, courtesy, and respect. To this end, we encourage all film hosts to take steps to ensure that any filming on their property is legal, safe, and friendly to their neighbors. And while you probably won’t be involved in securing permits for on-location film shoots, the production company you work with will, and you should be familiar with what they plan to do and what legal permissions they do and do not have*.
For example, for a production to film at your house, they may require street parking in addition to a film permit. Signs from the city will need to be hung, and FilmLA will need time to provide notices to your neighbors. There may also be noise restrictions and curfews to keep the community from being unduly disrupted. When offering your home for filming, you will want to discuss these impacts openly with the production company so that you are not faced with unpleasant surprises and angry neighbors. Some homeowners, and especially those who host filming multiple times each year, opt to use some of their profits from leasing their property to benefit their neighbors too, whether it’s throwing a block party or making improvements to shared areas.
If your property is a business, consider how filming will impact other businesses nearby. Will your production block their customers or clients from parking or entering a building?
For the sake of your community, you are strongly encouraged to limit the number of days filming occurs at your property, should it turn out your property is in high demand. Locations with high frequency may require supportive surveys from neighbors for additional film days and can even be placed on moratoriums by the City. Your HOA may also have rules for you to work within. These are all details to consider when listing your property and before deciding to lease it for a film production.
Is Your Property Ideal?
Before starting the process, you may wonder if it’s even worth the effort – would filmmakers be interested in using your home or business as a filming location? FilmLA asked several location representation companies (known in the business as “location service”) what types of properties are considered most desirable.
David Hatfield of CAST Locations shared that “the number one criteria is character” and “having good curb appeal is also very important.” If a property is “hidden or does not present well from the street,” then it is less likely to be ideal for filming, Hatfield adds. Sheer logistics can make large homes and open layouts preferable, but don’t assume that a house must be a mansion to be a successful filming location. Hatfield notes his company will list a “wide range of styles and classes, from modern to craftsman and from mansions to very modest homes.” He adds, “We get requests for everything from white, light and bright to colorful or with lots of wood tones - so we take a variety to try to cover all of the inquiries we get.”
The number one criteria is character.
Confirming the importance of spaciousness, Toni Maier of On Location also mentions parking availability and owner attitudes: “In choosing properties for filming, we look for large, open, and tasteful properties with good parking on the street or nearby. They can be new or old with willing and easy-going homeowners!” Maier reports.
To actively market your property to filmmakers, you may want to enlist the help of professionals. A list of Location Services can be found in the Creative Handbook. Film Location Services differ in the clients they will accept, the services they offer and the fees they charge, so you’ll want to interview several before making a decision.
Before contacting a Location Services company, it is advised to get some photos and property statistics ready to submit. Hatfield suggests gathering “contact info, basic property information (address, size, filming history, etc.), as well as some snapshots (non-professional photos) to give us an idea [of] what the property is like. A description is good, but pictures are important for making that determination.” Most Location Services websites will offer instructions on submitting your property to them for consideration.
It will take some research and prep work to lease your home or business for filming. But the benefits can be very rewarding. Ensuring that any filming on your property is safe, respectful, and has the necessary permits and liability insurance will maximize your film host side-hustle. Here, at the beginning of what can be a fun adventure, we wish you luck and success. We hope the resources provided here put you on your way to getting your property its big break in Hollywood!