Updated: Mar 9, 2021
There are many ways to build wealth with home ownership. In fact, we've written about the most passive ways including through rental properties, AirBNB rentals and the lesser known non-traded real estate investment trusts. Yet the least known way requires the least effort. Crews for movies, photo shoots, music videos and TV shows are constantly looking for ideal locations for their projects. For the right home, crews are willing to pay top dollar to rent it out for filming. Considering how effortless this enterprise is, renting out your home to film crews should be on the top of anyone's list when looking for passive income.
How to Get Your Home Rented Out for Films
If getting paid thousands of dollars per day to have your home used for filming sounds like a great idea, you should consider what's necessary to get film companies interested in your property. Generally, film companies are searching for all kinds of homes- from mansions to studio apartments to warehouses and more.
Besides the location, scouts are often looking for location accessibility, parking accessibility, security and more. Sometimes, it's a particular feature of your home that draws a scout's interest. For instance, perhaps it's your lovely garden or your strangely shaped pool that makes a great backdrop for a scene. Homes with unique architectural designs and retro themes are often most in demand.
Here's a few other things film companies consider when deciding on where to film their projects:
1) Natural Light. Cinematographers often need larger windows to provide natural light. It just looks better on camera.
2) Ownership helps. Production companies usually prefer to work with owners, not renters. In terms of legal paperwork and logistics, it's a lot simpler.
3) Be Easy to Work With. Thousands of dollars are spent every hour on a film set. Therefore, try to be as cordial and relaxed as possible when meeting the film scouts. This way they'll be reassured you won't freak out when dozens of strangers are walking around your home later.
How Much Money Can I Make Renting Out My Home to a Film Crew?
Compared to some of the other passive income ideas on here, renting your home for filming offers potentially a much higher return on investment. The upfront costs are negligible, yet one can make thousands of dollars per day. Though the wait times between bookings might be lengthy, you can make substantial income on a yearly basis.
Depending on the production's budget and size, the fees one can earn range from $500 per day for independent films to nearly $10,000/day for a major studio film where your home is the main setting. Other factors that affect the fees you earn include the size of your property, the uniqueness of the property and its location. For instance, a mansion in Arkansas might garner a smaller fee than a three bedroom condo in Los Angeles.
The Best Websites to List your Home for Filming
Most companies use location scouts to hunt for idea locations for their projects. Sometimes these scouts are online peer-to-peer platforms which lists available homes for shooting. On these websites, filmmakers connect with homeowners of thousands of unique homes and locations. The top cities with listed locations on these platforms include New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Chicago, Austin, etc. To get into this lucrative, passive business, visit the websites listed below:
1) LocationsHub. Locationshub is an international locations gallery, a marketplace bringing together those looking for film locations with those who own locations available for use. There is over 1.5 million location images from all over the world available on the site. Filming is everywhere so properties are needed everywhere. A basic plan on the website will allow you to add one property with 25 pictures for only $4.95 per month.
2) Reel Locations. At Reel Locations, you can market your property to location scouts and filmmakers from around the country. Adding your property to their location directory is easy. As property owner, purchasing a listing gets your home its own web page with up to 30 photos. Location scouts can search for properties by architectural design, zip code and other details given in your property description. So be concise when describing your property. Like Locationshub, the basic plan starts at $4.95 per month.
3) Set Scouter. Starting with film location scouting, Set Scouter has developed tools to make the whole process simpler, faster and more affordable. Unlike the companies mentioned above, there’s no cost to list your space on Set Scouter. Plus, you get to keep 100% of the negotiated rental rate, since Set Scouter gets paid by the production company instead.
4) Giggster. Similar to the platforms mentioned above, yet Giggster also has some advantages over the competition. For instance, if you don’t want to be present for the shoot, Giggster can provide a Site Rep to watch after your home on your behalf. In addition, homeowners are also covered by Giggster's million dollar liability policy. This is in addition to the insurance that production companies already have.
Steps to Get Your Home Ready for Production
There are a number of steps you must take on these platforms before a production team can begin shooting a film there.
1) Register on the Website
When you decide on the platform you'd like to list your home on, make sure you have some great photos to include with your description. As mentioned earlier, you definitely want to include any features that make your home unique, especially if it's cinematic.
2) Set Your Availability
With all these websites, you have full control of your rental rate, availability, and the productions you’re willing to host. You’ll be able to coordinate the nitty gritty details directly with the production team. Feel free to ask questions about their schedule and plans.
3) The Contract
Once a production team has booked your home for their shoot, you are required to sign a location agreement. The agreement is meant to protect the interests of both you and the production company. Typically, the contract gives the filmmakers access to your property and states that any footage shot inside and its "likeness" belongs to the company. The agreement also covers your home with insurance. Note, most of the platforms mentioned above also provide insurance.
4) The Job
Many of these platforms specialize in smaller productions (commercials, music videos, and photo shoots). An average production is 12 hours with a cast and crew of about 15 people. However, these are details you can request before agreeing to a job. With many of these platforms, you also have the option of having a site rep at the production to make sure things go smoothly.
5) Getting Paid
The amount of money you make depends on the type and size of the project, as well as the size and location of your home. All these platforms make 'getting paid' exceedingly easier, since production teams immediately pay at the time of booking.
Things to Consider
While visual effects and big name stars are the most talked about aspects of most productions nowadays, real-world physical locations have always been a constant. This was true since the beginning of film and it'll be true long into the future. Thanks to generous tax incentives and competitive wages, there are now more major film productions shot throughout the country, not just California and New York. So nearly everyone reading this article has an opportunity to rent out their homes to productions. As passive side hustles go, it doesn't get much better than this.
While it is common for homeowners to worry about the potential damage that a production may do to your house, the chance of that happening is actually rare. However, if it does happen, it's contractually written that the owner be compensated, since all professional film productions are insured. This doesn't even include the insurance of the platforms listed above. In addition, professional crews are often careful and detail-oriented. It's not uncommon for homeowners to be delightfully surprised to find their homes tidier than when they left.
In regards to seasonality, you can earn money through renting your home to film productions all year round. The boom in filming, whether it's by big or small productions, provides many opportunities for homeowners to make passive income with ease.