Turn your house into a shoot location and earn income!

Over Christmas, my daughter, who is currently studying photography at Falmouth Uni, turned my home into a shoot location for the day. The brief was entitled ‘A Space within and other Stories’ Sort of a moody story of a ‘beautiful disaster’! Yours truly acted as stylist, supplier of props and refreshments and my teenage niece enthusiastically did the honours as the model, tough, but well, someone had to do it! It was frankly exhausting but a whole lot of fun and the results, I think, are fab. There’s certainly something special about seeing your home in print or on screen with characters that bring it to life. With this in mind I recently registered my home with a locations agency. Hiring out your home as a location can be quite lucrative as well as interesting, for some it has proved to be a regular source of income. The key to success is funnily enough is  ‘the location’ and I’ve pulled together the results of my research.

Is my property suitable?

Browse through the portfolio of properties listed by the location agencies and you will see that there are some amazing looking homes but there are also a lot of quirky and unusual locations, from garages and warehouses to houseboats and beach huts. Agencies are always on the lookout for unusual locations or features. Not all locations are accepted though and they do list a few key requirements:

  • Properties that are in or around the M25 are most popular as this is where most production companies are based, but crews are willing to travel further for the ‘right’ location, which maybe because of external scope or other special features.
  • Good size rooms – rooms need to be large enough to be able to fit a film crew of around 10, plus equipment, the larger the room the more flexibility. Open plan kitchens, for example, that give the appearance of a normal size kitchen but have extra open plan space for the crew, are useful.
  • Good natural light is a bonus.
  • Interesting and/or period features.
  • Wooden floors are popular or polished concrete in more modern properties.
  • Decor – neutral decor gives more options but equally unusual and interesting decor can also be attractive depending on the requirements.
  • Parking and good access is helpful.

What can I expect to earn?

From around £600-650 per day for editorial – £850 per day for magazine shoots, and more for filming less around 20% commission to the agency (prices are a guide only). These are only guide prices and commissions, agencies will charge differently, often negotiating on individual jobs. Some charge a one off registration fee of around 150-200 which are generally deducted from any jobs that come your way. However unless your photography is very good there will also likely be a charge for photography if they think this is necessary for the listing.

How do I register?

It’s pretty simple to register your home with an agency, the easiest way to do this and the way they encourage, is online. There are a fair few agencies out there, the larger ones I’ve come across are 1st Optionjjlocations and Shootfactory and you can register with more than one. If you have a particularly interesting location that is likely to get a lot of regular bookings, my guess is it would be worth negotiating lower fees for sole exclusive agency. Generally, they all tend to have their own on-line forms and follow a similar format, give as much detail as possible, remember they receive many applications daily, you need to give it your best shot to get registered. Once the agency receive your application and they decide that your property is suitable to add to their portfolio they will contact you and may ask for further details, photos and what type of location shoot you are willing to entertain. For example, ‘paint & redecorate’, whereby the client may want to repaint certain areas in a colour that may better suit their purpose and they then repaint at their expense. This is optional but obviously the greater flexibility you offer the better:

  • Fill in your details – address of property, contact etc
  • Write a description of the property – make this as informative as possible, listing accommodation and all interesting or special features, surfaces as well as information on exterior and facilities etc. as it will help the agency to assess the property as a location and often this is the description they will use on-line if they decide to list your property.
  • Photos – good images are essential to show your property to its best advantage. Take as many shots in good natural light and with as many angles as possible, interior and exterior. Some agencies will visit and if they are interested enough they may recommend having some professional shots done and for this they will charge, but to show the property off to them at its best in the first instance, show the best you can!

What to look out for?

  • Ensure that the agency is reputable. Speak to them. Get a feel for their care and professionalism. Speak to more than one to compare their terms. 
  • Make sure you have the right household insurance, the film company should also have Public Liability Insurance.
  • Make sure you are up to speed and happy with the terms of the contract, especially in respect of what you are expected to do and provide as well as responsibility for post shoot cleaning and procedure for reporting any damages.

I haven’t had so much of a sniff yet but I guess its one of those ‘ being in the right place, with the right house, at the right time’ things. Anyway, nothing ventured nothing gained, whats to lose? Will let you know how if I get any joy. In the meantime I will satisfy myself with the results of our own private shoot, which I hope you agree are pretty gorgeous, love to hear what you think, enjoy. (click on an image below for full slide show).

Jane x


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