Screening rooms

Want to make your home available for filming? Here's what to know.

The film industry might be tough to break into, but it's surprisingly egalitarian when it comes to houses. "Sometimes, I'll turn down a multimillion-dollar home, and other times, I'll take a very funky house," says David Hatfield, who works for his family business Cast Locations (www.castlocations.com), which connects location managers with residences. "Our most popular categories are mansions, estates and architectural homes, especially midcentury modern, but also very popular is the 'Anywhere, U.S.A. house.'" In fact, when it comes to suitable types of homes, there's really only one hard-and-fast rule: The rooms within the house, regardless of the total square footage of the property, must be large enough for a crew to navigate.

Companies such as Cast Locations and Hollywood Locations (www.hollywoodlocations.com) charge homeowners 30%, but they handle every aspect of the transaction, from drawing up the contracts to providing an on-site manager during filming. Madison Locations (www.madisonlocations.com) offers free listings, but it doesn't provide management services unless requested. Other respected companies include East West Locations (www.eastwestlocations.com), Image Locations (www.imagelocations.com), Sunset Locations (www.sunsetlocations.com) and Universal Locations (www.universallocations.com).

Sean Harrington, locations marketing director at Madison Locations, suggests that homeowners approach a project as if it were a real estate offering. "Show why your house is great in the photos," he says. "Show photos of wide-open rooms, the uniqueness of the property."

Just as important as the characteristics of a house is the character of its owner. "People have different personalities, and some are better suited to this than others," Hatfield says. "To make $40,000 a year, you need to look at it as a business and be prepared for a lot of showings. You have to be there when the scout comes out, then for the producer and director, and then for a tech scout, then maybe 10-20 members of the crew. Be prepared that when they come, it's going to be a circus."

Should one's home never make it that far in the process, it might not be because the home isn't up to par. "Sometimes, people will say to me, 'My house has been scouted 90 times but never used,'" says

location manager Christopher Miller, who worked on Fox Searchlight's "Little Miss Sunshine." "But the thing is, it's the script, not your house. You can have the most fabulous house in the world, but if the script doesn't call for it, it doesn't matter."

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