Did you receive a flyer on your door or a phone call at your place of business asking if you would consider allowing your property to be used as a film location?
Having a production feature your property and seeing it on screen can be very exciting! (You might even make some money in the process) But there are some considerations you might keep in mind and there are probably a number of questions you have.
Who is this person at my door?
The person who visited your door is a “location scout”. They are either a direct employee of a production company or a freelance photographer who has been hired by a production company to find potential film locations. They MUST have some credential identifying who they are. They might ask to take photos of the inside of your property. You can always call our office to verify the legitimacy of a person or a production. Make sure you get their phone number and ask them if they have a business card you can have. Sometimes the film project has not yet printed business cards but many location scouts will have a personal card that you can have.
What do they do with the photos after they leave my property?
- Ordinarily, the location scout will gather photos of a number of options. The next step is they will show the photos to a production designer or director. Then, they will compile a list of properties they might want to consider. You may or may not hear back so feel free to call the scout for updates.
- If they want to return with the designer or director, they will call you to arrange a time. If they think your property might work, they will provide you with an offer that should include a location agreement.
- Depending on the production, they might need to spend a day or longer with “load-in” and “set-up”. This gives the production time to set up the equipment and get the location ready for filming. Next, will be the “shoot days”. Those are the days the cameras will be rolling. Last will be “load-out”. This is the time needed to get all the equipment removed and to get the property back to the way it was prior to production. You should be paid for each step of this process.
So they have scouted and have reached out to me saying they might wish to use my property. What now?
BEFORE YOU AGREE TO ANYTHING, DO SOME RESEARCH!
- Make sure the company is legitimate.
- Call your city or state’s film office with your questions regarding the Film Company. Find out if they heard of the company, location scout or location manager? Use the Internet to find any information on the company. YOU should never pay any fee to the film company, location scout or location manager for them to use your property!
- Ask for references. Don’t be afraid to ask for the following: the producer or director’s list of credits; a contact with the parent company; and proof of insurance.
- Request references of property owners who have had experiences with the company. Be sure to ask the following questions: Did the Film Company honor their agreements? Did they damage the property? Did they promptly make repairs to the property?
- Before you decide to grant permission to film, consider the impact filming will have on your neighbors, tenants or customers. Remember to take safety into consideration when making your decision.
Once you’ve found out the company is legitimate, what next?
- The Location Scout or Location Manager, hired by the Film Company, will be your contact. Get their phone or pager numbers so you can reach them if you have any questions after the initial contact.
- Walk the Location Manager or Location Scout through your property. Find out how long the shoot will last, including preparation and wrap time. You need to know where they plan to film on your property. Are they filming interiors, exteriors or both?
- Find out how your location is going to be used. Make sure that you are comfortable with the subject matter of the project and your property’s role in the overall picture.
- Determine what areas are off-limits for filming. Know what areas on your property that filmmakers are not allowed to shoot.
Other important things to find out:
- How many people will be allowed “on set”?
- Where will the cast and crew eat their meals?
- How will you, as the property owner, be accommodated during filming?
- Will your living expenses be paid for?
- What is your policy regarding smoking, use of water, restrooms, and telephones?
- Determine what personal property will be used during filming.
- Know where items not used will be stored, and who will be responsible for packing and moving the items. Make the clean up requirements known. Find out who will clean-up your property and when they plan to do it.
- Determine the parking arrangements for cast and crew. Make sure the film company knows where they can or can not park. Remember to consider the parking needs of your neighbors. Feature film crews can bring a lot of traffic to your neighborhood.
The Million Dollar Question, “How much do I charge?”
- Location fees are negotiable.
- The owner should feel comfortable with the amount agreed upon. Small business owners should be compensated for lost business along with a location fee while the premises is closed for filming.
- Property owners should consider the production budget, length of stay, and the use of interiors or exteriors when figuring location fees. Fees for brief, low-budget shoots should be less than longer, big-budget productions.
- You can leave room to negotiate, but location managers will offer you a fair price; excessive haggling over fees may cost you the use of your property for filming.
- Full or partial payment should be made prior to any filming. You may request and negotiate a security/damage deposit.
The Legal Issues.
- Get the specifics in writing.
- Your concerns and demands regarding the use of your property should be put in writing and signed by a principle or agent of the film company. Be sure to include your location fees, clean-up requirements, and any other arrangements agreed upon with the film company.
- You may want to include the following statement:
“The applicant (film company) agrees to indemnify the owner and to be solely and absolutely liable upon any and all claims, suits and judgements against the owner and or the applicant for personal injuries and property damages arising out of or occurring during the activities of the applicant, its employees or otherwise. The agreement may be revoked at any time.”
- The owner must get a copy of the company’s insurance policy covering third party rental, property damage and liability. Production companies should carry this policy, and you should receive a photocopy of the policy before any crew comes on the property.
HAVING YOUR PROPERTY USED IN FILMING CAN BE EXCITING, BUT REMEMBER TO PUT YOUR CONCERNS IN WRITING.
Film Monitor Checklist:
Production Company: _____________________________________________
Date of Shoot: ______________
On Set Today (names):
Location Manager:_________________ Craft Service: _________________
First AD: ________________________ First Aid: _____________________
Driver Captain: ____________________ Spec. FX: ____________________
Fire Safety Officer: _________________ Police: _______________________
Other (Stunt coordinator, etc.): ______________________________________
Total # of cast & crew: ________ Total # vehicles: Prod: ____ Non-prod: ____
Monitor arrival Time: _______________ Departure time: _________________
Be sure to review the following points:
______ Review the location agreement with the location manager, ensuring all provisions will be met prior to vehicles and production personnel arrival.
______ Ask to see any applicable municipal permits and confirm any requirements or restrictions (i.e. number of fire and/or police officers, etc.)
______ Introduce yourself to the Transportation Captain and discuss any rules, regulations and agreements pertaining to vehicle operation on the grounds or within the facility. Address speed limits, staging areas, and any other concerns.
______ Assist in the placement of vehicles to insure normal traffic patterns for tenants or neighbors.
______ Make sure that vehicles are in safe, non-fire hazard areas. If you are unsure, consult the Fire Safety Officer if one is present.
_____ Introduce yourself to the Assistant Director and advise them that all provisions of the agreement will be adhered to and any changes must be discussed with you in advance. Any problems you have during the day will be resolved with the Assistant Director or their representative.
_____ Establish a crew meal area.
_____ Introduce yourself to the craft services person. Make sure they know that they are responsible for litter, including cigarette butts, are their responsibility and are an ongoing task rather than to be cleaned up after production has wrapped.
_____ Introduce yourself to the greens people (if applicable). Explain the policies regarding the use of the greens, landscape, and existing plants. Make sure you know who will clean up these areas.
_____ Designate a smoking area. Make sure that smoking policies are followed, and that failure to comply will result in the loss of the smoking privilege.
_____ Discuss emergency procedures with the First Aid person assigned to the shoot, if one exists. If not, speak to the 1st Assistant Director.
_____ Discuss special effects operations with the fire safety officer. Make sure that the permit issued to the company agrees with the proposed activity.
_____ Check all areas of activity to ensure that the areas are returned to their original condition.
_____ Inspect all damage and report it to the 1st Assistant Director.
General Provisions to a Location Contract
Consider the following points when making a location contract with filmmakers:
- All activities, areas of use, shooting schedules, can not be modified without written approval from the manager, owner or designee.
- Tenants, public, staff, and visitors will not be restricted from property use during filming unless otherwise agreed.
- Film locales must be kept clean of trash and litter. Cables, dolly tracks, and other potential hazards are to be shielded.
- For interior filming: make sure that the film company protects floors and walkways from excessive dirt and water.
- For exterior filming: landscapes and building facades are to be undisturbed unless otherwise agreed.
- No personal pets may be brought onto the property.
Check the following items that apply to your contract.
_______ Production company is to furnish its own
____ Electricity ____ Trash Receptacles
____ Sanitary Facilities ____ Phones
______ Location clean up is to take place within ______ hours after the completion of filming. Clean up should restore the location to its original condition.
______ Areas of filming will be cleared of hazards at the end of each day’s filming or a guard will be provided by the production company. This set guard will follow the guidelines set by the owner and/or agent.
______ No overnight storage of equipment or vehicles.
______ No smoking permitted.
______ Smoking permitted only in designated areas properly equipped with butt cans.
______ No interior filming or activity.
______ No activity, including arrival of vehicles and/or personnel, will occur before _____ a.m. or after _____ p.m.
______ Crew meals will be set up as follows:_____________
______ Except as otherwise designated, no food or drink is permitted in the interior of the property.
______ Parking of vehicles and equipment is as follows:
____ Generator location _______________________________________
____ Production Vehicles
- Number & Type: ______________________________
- Location _____________________________________
____ Other Vehicles
- Number & Type: ________________________________
- Location _______________________________________
______ Any set construction, removal or construction of signs, painting, nailing, taping or any other alterations to the property are prohibited unless specifically described below: