TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO
Aimee Pratt 0:00
Hi, everyone, I’m super excited to be talking with Ariel today about her unique background. You have such an interesting one. Tell me a little bit about what that background is.
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 0:11
Well, for 24 years, I ran the Pasadena Film Commission, and promoted all of Pasadena’s properties to the film industry as a potential film location. So I really want to talk about film location rentals. And if you could rent your house for filming, I wanted to get into that and give some tips.
Aimee Pratt 0:31
Yeah, this is so interesting, because I’m a big “Friends” fan, you know, the show “Friends,” I know that they built a set, it is not a real apartment that they’re shooting out of. And I just thought in my brain, like maybe that’s what producers use mostly are these built sets, but that’s not true. So I love that this is what you do. You help people bring in extra money by using their home as a film location. How does one even know that their home could be used to rent it out for filming?
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 1:07
roperty owners have been asking me all the time, how do I get my house in the movies? So I ended up getting my real estate license. And I’m now working on the end where I’m helping property owners. And everybody’s wondering about that, like, Is this even possible. And I can say, if you’re in the LA area, or what they call the TMC, the 30 mile zone is the zone, that’s considered to be the film industry. And it’s literally a physical radius from the Beverly Center. And like West Hollywood, going out in a 30 mile radius is considered the motion pictures zone. So anybody who films in that area is in the industry zone. If you live in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, those are also production centers now. They’re very popular destinations for filmmakers. If you want to promote your property in any of those areas, and you know that there’s filming going on, you’re in a good area, that this could be a possibility for you. And if you get beyond those production centers and you really get outside some of these bigger cities. If you go to this one website, I really want to recommend this to people. It’s called AFCI, afci.org. It’s the Association of Film Commissioners International. And that organization has a huge membership of film commissioners from across the globe, there may be a good chance that your city would be have its own Commission, which is great, because they have a member directory that anyone can look up and they can look up their city. And if there’s a film commission there, chances are there’s production in your town, which means this is a possibility for you. Usually these Commission’s are funded by local government, they’re funded by the convention bureau. And they’re not going to put that outlay of staff and the marketing budgets and benefits to pay that staff, if there wasn’t real valid filming going on in that area. So that’s a good test to find out. If if this is something as a property owner that you could do.
Aimee Pratt 3:28
Oh, what a great resource. I had no idea. This is like a whole new world that you’re opening up to me Ariel. So it sounds like from from listening to you talk right now that there’s so much that needs to come together for a property to be selected, even as a film location. Can you talk a little bit about that process?
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 3:53
Yeah, actually, there are quite a few things. A lot of folks think, well, I just listed my home, I should have filming immediately. But a few things need to really happen for it to be viable. First off, you need to be an exact match your property from that particular script that the filmmaker has. If they want a 1960s post and beam house, you better be exactly that. And there’s the other challenge that the filmmakers are looking at it, they prefer that your house possibly match two separate locations. They might have a scene where they want they have a kitchen scene. And then they want to do a backyard scene, but they want the backyard to be like it’s at a different house. And if you have a great backyard and you have a really great kitchen, and they’re slightly different and you can see that they’re different. That’s another thing because a lot of times that we’ll need to do one scene in the morning at one at one location, another scene and another and if you have both that’s really good. And of course it’s also dependent on the owner’s schedule. Is the property even available? You might be picked on any given day and you have a lot of potential, you’re the exact match. But hey, it might be that you’re having a wedding reception for your daughter. And then the final thing is you need to be in close proximity to another location, because they’ll be shooting maybe three different setups, meaning like I say, they’ll have a kitchen scene, they’ll have a backyard scene, and then they want a scene at a yogurt shop. So it might be a great post and beam house, for instance. But if they have a yogurt shop scene that they need to film later in the day, and there’s no one near you, or not anybody that’s going to host filming, that nix you out. So quite a few elements need to come together.
Aimee Pratt 5:48
This is so incredible what you do, because you’re not just a realtor in LA. But you’re, you’re also someone who can provide, passive income for people if their home meets certain criteria. And this is why I’m super excited to be talking to you this morning about it. So we talked a little bit about the process. Whta about the home? What makes a home a great film location?
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 6:18
Well, first off, you need to have plenty of space. And what I mean by that … any room that they would be filming in, 1/3 of it needs to be able to be taken up by crew and equipment and still look like a normal size room. Of course, now with new technology, cruise sizes are getting smaller. But even with a smaller crew, you know, they can take up quite a bit of space. You just have to plan that 1/3 of the room is going to be crew and equipment. And given that, does it still look big enough? Does it look like a normal sized living room? Does it look like a normal sized deck? And another thing, it’s kind of different for commercials versus TV and features with commercials. They’re looking for clean, neutral color palettes, sort of recognizable modern American design, really open floorplan is great. So they can get different angles and great light. It’s the kind of commercials you see where you can tell that a consumer product wants to be associated with that location. You know, there’s just great light, it just looks idyllic. But for TV series and movies, it’s very, very different. They need a variety of different properties from different time periods. They’re looking for really interesting architectural details, elements that guide the eye, give texture to the story. You know, anything that makes you feel that you’re there and you’re of that era is very important.
Aimee Pratt 7:50
What makes the property film friendly?
Unknown Speaker 7:54
Like logistically, I would say, first off, you can’t be on like a major highway, you need to have kind of a quiet street, so that they’re able to get their sound takes. Having some available parking nearby either on the street, or on site, that’s wonderful. If you have extra driveway, if you’re a commercial property, if you have a lot that could be used. That’s wonderful. And then the final one that a lot of people don’t think about, but it’s critical. And I found that when I was running the film commission that this is something I got involved with is neighborhood conflict. Are their amenable neighbors? Some neighbors are really against filming and others don’t have a problem with it. If they have a problem with it, they can create a lot of drama and issues. So folks if you want to do this, really have a good relationship with your neighbors. Reach out to them if you’re going to do filming, you know, knock on their door, maybe give them a little gift, or maybe have a neighborhood barbecue. That really goes a long way.
Aimee Pratt 9:01
Yeah, that’s a great tip. I’m sure some neighbors are really excited that their street might be filmed or just even be able to talk about with their friends like oh, the home next door across the street is going to be in this movie. But other neighbors- they don’t want to deal with the extra congestion or the noise and because it affects everybody around that particular film house. Those are great tips.
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 9:29
Aimee Pratt 9:30
Ariel, what is the average daily rental rate for filming and folks you’re not going to want to miss this. This is incredible.
Ariel Penn 9:39
Well I would say if you if you have a residential property and you want to know what you could rent your property for-lookup Zillow. Go to Zillow, look up your monthly rent Zestimate they call it. That’s an indicator of what you could charge daily or a film day. That means when the whole crew is there filming. That’s a good guideline. Of course, some people have a tighter budget, they have a smaller crew, their project might be web based, that kind of thing, they’re gonna have a smaller budget, so you have to be flexible. But for more of a standard production rate, you know, TV Commercial Series, you know, features, I would look at that daily rate, that daily Zestimate. That’s what you would charge. For a prep and strike day-a prep days is when they’re bringing in the set dressing and their furniture, greens, etc, that would be they were you would charge half that daily rate. Same with the strike day, which is when they remove all of their stuff and their equipment. So that’s kind of a good rule of thumb is to check that out to see what your property would be worth in terms of a rental. For your commercial property, it’s slightly different, they have to be able to cover what you would lose in proceeds for a typical business day. If they’re going to film on a Wednesday, you look at what you typically make on a standard Wednesday. And they have to cover that because usually, they end up filming 12 to 15 hours, and they shut you down for the day. Or if it’s a half day, look at what your half day proceeds would be. And if there are any personnel staff that you have that are sent home, because they’re in the way of the filming, and you have to cover their salaries, then the crew, the production would have to look at that. Possibly cover that.
Aimee Pratt 11:34
So some really good many can be made. If your home is selected as a film location, incredible amount of passive income. And is this income… I understand it’s tax free? Is this true?
Ariel Penn 11:51
In many cases, you don’t have to pay taxes on the rental income for the first 14 days, (rentals) that you do. There’s no state or federal tax, You really need to consult with your CPA or tax attorney on this just to be sure. Because folks may have other rentals that could affect this. You might have an Airbnb rental, you might have another second property that you rent out. So that could affect things. But if you’re not doing any rentals at all, and you’re just doing filming, and you do say 14 days of filming at $10,000 a day. That’s like 140,000 and tax free income.
Aimee Pratt 12:32
That’s amazing. What preparation do you need to let filmmakers know about your property?
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 12:40
Well, first off, you need photos. You should take a whole set of photos of your property. You can take it with your iPhone, there’s no problem with that, that’s fine, the iPhones or an Android, whatever kind of phone you have, all of the phones now take pretty amazing pictures. You want to get pictures of both the interiors and the exteriors of your property. Using the widest angle possible. The filmmakers really need to see all three walls in any given picture. And you also need to do a reverse shot so they can see what the room looks like from the opposite side of the room. And you might experiment a bit with raising or lowering the level of how you have your camera. Because the room can look different, based on how you move it. A lot of people shoot things just straight on. If you angle a bit, it can look kind of grand. If you lower it, it makes you feel like you’re really in the scene. You feel you’re closer to the textures of tables and drapery and everything. So that’s important to look at how you can creatively shoot it. I usually shoot from corner to corner in the room, like I go to one corner and then I go to the catty corner and shoot the opposite direction. And again, all three walls.
Aimee Pratt 13:56
And what do folks do with these photos? Once they take them?
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 14:01
Well, you know, you could send them to your local film commission. Many of them maintain libraries of locations that filmmaker search. Or you can work with a service like mine, film location properties.com I’m based in LA though, but we help promote properties and coordinate filming and I’m able to help them in that regard. I’m a licensed real estate agent. And that’s required in order to be able to promote and to help manage filming rentals here in California. So folks can send me your photos if you’re in the LA area and I can evaluate your property and see if it’s one I’d be able to promote to filmmakers, that it works logistically, just send it to Ariel Penn that’s email@example.com.And I’ll let you know if it works for filming. I’ll get in touch with you and we can start promoting your property. I just want folks to know though that I work on a commission basis only, so there’s no upfront fees. I only get paid if you get the job. And that’s it. If you’re out of the LA area, check back to this video in the description down below, I’ll have a list of resources.
Aimee Pratt 15:16
This is good stuff. What do you do to help promote your client’s properties? You kind of touched on it a little bit, can you go into more detail?
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 15:29
After I look at folks photos, and I think it would work work logistically, I would come to the property myself and take my own set of photos. And I would put them up on our website that the scouts look at- all the film location scouts. My website, again, film location properties.com. And I’d also be putting it up on social media. I’m also doing regular digital location catalogs where I just put all of my locations in a catalog and send it out or have a dropbox link to all the location scouts and managers. If I sign a new property, I’m going to be doing regular location alerts to let the industry know that your property is now available. There’s another thing- I also have Scout calls-, location scouts call me saying they’re looking for something specifically. So if I can make them match among my properties, best of all worlds. And I’m hoping towards the end of the year, or maybe once a year to do an actual print catalog that Scouts can have with them, when they’re out scouting in their car, they don’t have to fuss with their iPad or their phone, they’ll just have a catalog they can take with them.
Aimee Pratt 16:44
Oh, wow, that that would be amazing. That sounds like a lot of work, though. But really cool. It’s a cool job that you have. How do you help when a production is interested in a property?
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 16:59
That’s a good question. Because that’s one thing the owners ask me, Well, what are you going to do for me? I know you’re promoting my property. But once I select it, what goes on. What I usually do is, there’s at least three showings, that needs to occur of a property, before anything is ever booked by a production company. First off, they usually send out a location scout or a location manager. They’re the ones that actually look around, they’re responsible for trying to find the right match. So they’ll come out if they’ve seen photos, or they’ve gone to my website, or they’ve gotten a location alert. And I think it’ll work for a particular scene in their script, they’re going to be contacting me to be able to come to your property. So they’ll come first, they’ll take their own set of photos, they’re gonna show it to the director and the production designer. And if they like it, they’re gonna want to come out with the scout or manager and see your property. And if they like it, then there’s going to be at least a final Scout called- the tech Scout, where the department heads for each department on the crew comes in, looks at the property and makes sure that it works logistically for them. And at that point, they’re probably going to film. They’re most likely going to film. But they have to figure out where do they run the electrical wires? Where can they put the lights? So that’s called the tech scout. Another thing I ended up doing is I end up negotiating the contracts on behalf of my clients, because a lot of them are not familiar with the production contracts and I make sure that they get paid. I also keep track of scheduling and any production issues that come up. Also, insurance is a biggie. I need to make sure that the company is insuring the property. You know how important insurance is. They need to have general liability, and that they have workers comp, and then I have to contact the companies, the insurance companies to make sure that the policies are enforced and that they’re covering what they say they cover, and also that there’s some kind of damage deposit. If we’re gonna be there, and they’re bringing in some heavy equipment, you know, it’s not like, not like a smaller crew, or maybe they’re shooting a film with their iPhone. I’m not as worried about that. But with a big crew, making sure the owner has a deposit in hand to take care of any damages that may occur, like smaller things that they can cash it and take care of it right away, and don’t have to file an insurance claim. And then I help find an experienced site rep who will be on site, looking out for the owners interest the entire time that the film production is there, including prep and strike days, they would get a list from me of what the owners restrictions are. They have restrictions like you can’t be in this part of the house or you can’t use that room etc. You know, part of that is doing pre and post inspections. Like before the crew ever arrives, I have the site rep, do an inspection of the property, document the condition with photos and video. And then when the crew leaves, they do a post inspection. So there’s no conflict with the company over what happened if something fell or something was damaged. There’s evidence of that, for both sides, it protects both the filmmakers and the property owner. Also, I’m available 24/7. If there are any schedule changes or production issues that come up, because they film at all hours of the day and night, and I have to be available as well for questions and then liaison with the owner around any changes that might need to occur.
Aimee Pratt 20:44
It sounds like when you have a location that’s being filmed, you’re gonna be very busy, but you sound very committed.
Ariel Penn 20:55
I really appreciate it. Yes. I want to work hard for my clients.
Aimee Pratt 21:00
You do. Ariel, did the property owners remain on site while the filmmakers are there?
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 21:06
Usually not. I know, everybody thinks the owners are probably not on site, because of COVID, and all of that, and even pre pandemic days, the crew, they bring in a lot of people, they bring in a lot of equipment. It’s hard as a homeowner to do your normal activities in your home while you have a crew there. With COVID, especially where everybody’s trying to keep everything COVID safe, that a lot of filmmakers would prefer that the family be off site. And in that case, they pay for a hotel to have them off site, they pay for the hotel of their choice. So I help as well coordinate that and communicate that to the owner and back to the company where they’d like to stay.
Aimee Pratt 21:54
Oh, wow, that’s so nice. So it’s like an all expense paid little vacation while you’re making money for your home to be used as a film location. That’s amazing. So what are production days like?
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 22:08
Well, if they’re going to be filming a full day at your property, it’s usually 12 to 15 hours from the time they pull in to the time they pull out. So it’s a very full day. And the crew, it could bring anywhere from 10 to 75 people on site, and bring at least a few larger trucks for a standard shoot as well as transport vans to get the crew to the site. They don’t bring the whole crew, they usually base camp off site at a large lot. And they bring essential equipment, that makes the impact on the street a lot nicer.
Aimee Pratt 22:45
Oh, I bet.
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 22:47
It’s just just essential pieces.
Aimee Pratt 22:50
That’s very considerate.
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 22:54
The industry works hard to make it nice for folks, so the neighbors are not too impacted.
Aimee Pratt 23:01
That’s good to know. So what if folks want to buy a property that would be good for filming? Or if they have a property that’s hosted filming, and that they want a realtor to sell it? I really to like you.
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 23:18
I’m here for that. I have like real estate investors that are friends that I’ve met through luncheons and different networking events where they’re looking for a property that can not only be their home, or be a second home, but it can make some rental income. If you have a property that’s hosted filming, I know how to promote that as a value add to your buyers. Now I would write up and research the film history of your property and have that available to the buyers and talk to them with some experience about what that would be like and what the potential income could be and the tax issues and all of that.
Aimee Pratt 23:59
Wow, I bet that home will sell for a lot more and a lot faster if it’s a film location property.
Ariel Penn, Film Location Properties 24:05
Yeah, I think so too. And I also meant to mention folks that in terms of looking for a film location property to buy, you can talk to Amy about getting pre approved for a loan if if you’re looking and you this is something you want to do and something you want to explore. So it’s something to consider and I’m happy to take you out to look at property that might work for you.
Aimee Pratt 24:29
Ariel, thank you so much for your time today. This has been great information. If you have any other questions about filming rentals, please put them down in the comments below and we promise we will follow up with you. Or if you’ve hosted filming and have some tips for other owners please share. We want to know.