Rent Your Home for Photo Shoots and Films

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Have you ever wanted to rent your home for photo shoots or as a movie set to make extra money? People really do that, and you can, too.

Behind the scenes of television cooking show. // Shutterstock

What to know when renting out your home for film shoots

“Art has its consequences!” Christopher Doyle told the British Film Institute during a 2019 interview.

The Australian cinematographer recounted what happened as the crew for “Chungking Express”—now a must-watch film in Hong Kong New Wave—was shooting in his flat while he still lived there.

“There was a scene where we flooded the place. Then we left. I guess I went on to another film,” he recalled. “Two or three months later, I came back and the people downstairs were going to sue us. We’re on the third floor and it flooded through every apartment downstairs.”

While not every shoot will include such drastic consequences, it is a cautionary tale in the world of movie-making: The unexpected happens, and property owners who are looking to make additional income by renting their spaces need to also be aware of the cons before diving in.

On the other hand, your home could be the next silver screen icon, such as the De Vere House, now the second-most photographed doorway in the U.K. behind 10 Downing Street, where the British prime minister resides. The home has been immortalized for its role as Godric’s Hollow, where Harry Potter’s parents lived while he was still a baby.

Front-row seat to creativity

For the most part, it seemed as if the owners had a front-row seat to movie magic in the making. “The crew arrived without actors and filmed both the front and the back in the height of summer,” owner Tony Ranzetta told the Telegraph in 2012. “They then used parts of the house like pieces of a massive three-dimensional jigsaw, cutting and pasting them to form the streets of Godric’s Hollow.”

Whether you own a small studio or period-piece home, listing your space can be a great way to achieve that additional revenue stream—but one that comes with trial and error or possible risks.

Ever wonder what it takes to be a host? Giggster compiled a list of pointers for renting out your space for film shoots to guarantee a successful experience, using tips from property owners and various sources.

Professional cinema and video camera on the set.

Grusho Anna // Shutterstock

Know the value of your listing

Make sure to do some market research. How much you’ll earn from renting out your property will be based on multiple factors:

  • your home’s location
  • its appearance and features
  • the production company’s budget

Most websites that aggregate film locations for rent also advertise their hourly rates. This makes it easy to compare a venue’s offerings with yours.

The average homeowner on Giggster earned $2,027 per booking in 2019. Homes that have hosted at least one shoot earned an average of $3,945.

These prices are only a barometer, and as a host, you have the freedom to discount your price or increase your rate based on the shoot.

You can also use an adaptive pricing scale to account for different production budgets and crew sizes. Photo shoots and video shoots are very different and require different fee additions.

Director at work on the set of a movie.

Grusho Anna // Shutterstock

Offer additional services to maximize your earnings

Some hosts can get an edge over potential clients by offering add-ons to the rental. This could be water, ice, package delivery plus the use of the house indoors or outdoors. However, don’t forget to reflect that when setting your price.

Each film shoot is a unique situation. For example, they can be very big, such as feature films with a cast and crew of more than 80 people. On the other hand, you may find that your home is a star appearing in a weekly series or a commercial.

Make sure your listing description and contract state that guests may be charged additional fees associated with their use of a space or various services.

Negotiate a price that factors in the time required to prepare and clean up the shoot. In the case that you allow for it, follow the industry standard around charging productions roughly half the price of a normal film day when a shoot goes over its allotted time.

Take a page from people who rent their homes as vacation rentals. The renter is responsible for the cleaning fee afterwards.

Behind the scenes close up of a clapper board. // Shutterstock

Posting great photos pays off

Just like a real estate listing, if you want to rent your home to filmmakers or ad agencies, you need great photos. Great photography means bookings.

This is your opportunity to show off your home’s best qualities. It could be the natural lighting, various rooms, interior decor, and features such as pools, gardens and the backyard.

In addition to the look of your home, practical details are just as important. According to the Los Angeles Times, ​​filmmakers are looking for a location with enough space for their crew and equipment. So, that is something else worth highlighting in your photo gallery.

For example, if you have a three-car garage where they can set up a staging area or a large backyard, definitely point these features out in your listing.

Film set, monitors and modern shooting equipment.

Grusho Anna // Shutterstock

Vet potential renters

Dani O’Dell, owner of a ranch-style production house in Tustin, California, advises that hosts vet all potential inquiries before accepting their bid.

“There have definitely been some companies and projects that would not have worked well at my home,” O’Dell says. “You have to think of neighbors, disruption to your daily life, and how they will conduct themselves in your home.”

O’Dell suggests looking up the inquiring company’s website and even social media platforms. “With this simple step,” she adds, “you can learn a lot about the standard of care they deliver with their work.”

She also advises property owners not to be afraid to ask questions. Also, be thoughtful about whether a particular project is a good fit before rushing in.

The director works with a playback while filming a movie.

Grusho Anna // Shutterstock

Set house rules

Seasoned hosts will all attest to the importance of setting one’s boundaries from the get-go. Experts say the listing is a great place to be overly descriptive. However, the contract is where you need to be clear on what your house rules are with filmmakers.

Alex Capozzolo, co-founder of Brotherly Love Real Estate, once represented a 150-year-old Philadelphia property. It was being featured in a photo shoot. He told Apartment Therapy that his client was able to include additional rules that protected their space.

For example, they restricted the number of film crew allowed on site at any given time. In addition, they added requirements for damage insurance. Finally, they included a clause that no changes be made to the interior or exterior of the house.

O’Dell says people told her that if crews asked for extra time, always refuse. “I could not understand why this came up in so many conversations before I began listing my home,” she recalls. “Then it happened to me several times,” she says. “People with tight budgets will try to squeeze in extra time.”

An 11 p.m. wrap-up time could easily turn into midnight — or worse, as late as 2 a.m. — because film crews typically need to clean up after a shoot as well. “Just remember to stick to your hard boundaries if you need to,” O’Dell advised. Plus, think about your neighbors. You don’t want to ruin relationships with people who live close by, just to earn some extra money.

Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Tim Bruns. Photo selection by Clarese Moller.

This story originally appeared on Giggster and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio. Cynthia Rebolledo contributed.

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