Earlier this month, we had a really exciting opportunity fall into our laps: a television crew wanted to film a couple of scenes in our house. The whole experience was completely fascinating and we got a glimpse into the industry and all that goes into each and every second of television. We also learned a little bit about what it's like to rent our house out for filming. For those who are considering doing the same, I thought it might be worth sharing a few tidbits.
1. Usually the bridesmaid, rarely the bride. The question we got asked most is how did they find us. Years ago, we were approached by a location scout. He wanted to know if we would be open to filming at our house and could he bring a crew over to take a look around inside. Intrigued we agreed to a visit but did not get picked for that show. We did, however, get put into a catalog of possible locations so a few times a year, we get a call from a different show/movie/commercial to see if we would still be open to it. Generally the team is seeing several different location a day so they stop by for a quick look see and then move on to the next option. In all those visits, this is the first time we were actually picked. So in other words, your house may be mercilessly rejected often before its ever picked and you will have no idea why. It's not personal, it's business.
2. It's Complicated. No matter how simple the description of what is being done seems, it's going to be way more elaborate than you imagine. In our case, one day of shooting required 2 whole days of set up and one day of restoration. And in those days there is quite a large team working very hard for very long hours. This particular television show had a fairly large crew. Some shows will have a smaller team while movies will have even more people. No matter what, there isn't a detail that isn't thought through carefully.
3. It's a Whole House Thing. Even though the crew was only technically using the main floor our house for filming, they essentially took over the entire house. From running endless cables in our basement to using our bedrooms as green rooms to keeping the doors wide open all day - don't expect to be able to live around them easily. That was our one big mistake. If we are ever lucky enough to get to do this again, I will fully move out for the entire time they are prepping, filming and restoring. Without kids it would have been a challenge but with them, it was virtually impossible. That said, you can't just fly to another country either - having someone in the house while the crew was there was pretty key when they needed to find something and when they were restoring everything on the final day.
4. Let It Go Not surprisingly, we are pretty protective of our house. So it was a bit stressful to see a big team descend and make changes, hang lights and do other things that could have done damage. But that is why they are there and you have to just take a deep breath and let it go. I had faith that the production company would repair anything that was damaged.
5. It Gets Weird I was personally super excited to see what changes the set decorators were going to make. Maybe they had some good ideas I could adopt? But I will warn you its super disorientating to walk into your home and most of your personal belongs and furniture has been replaced and rearranged. I didn't expect it to feel weird but it totally did!
6. Prepare for the Dirty Looks While the inconvenience is primarily yours, your neighbors will also be put out come filming day. In our case, they closed a few blocks for parking and turned our block in a bit of a zoo. We are very lucky that our neighbors are all good and decent people so they never said a word but I'm sure there was some mumbling under the breath. It was only one day so I hope they have forgiven us for the disruption.
7. Work with the Right People This was a bit of luck because we really knew nothing going in but we were very fortunate that this production company was a pleasure to deal with every way. First off, they provided us with proof of substantial insurance going in so we knew we were covered just in case something was damaged. Their rental offer was fair and they helped us make arrangements to stay offsite on the day of the filming. Once they got started they treated our home with respect and any small dings or scuffs were remedied before they left without even asking us. I imagine not every crew is as careful or as respectful so keep this in mind.
All in all, we had a positive experience and would recommend it if the opportunity arises.