How to Make Your Home or Design Project a Star!

Would you like to get your client's home that you designed in a movie, commercial, or print job?

Bay Area homes are always in demand from the high society penthouses, to the run down Oakland shacks. Cutting edge designs, unique wall treatments and vistas, manicured gardens are all sought after in the world of entertainment, with the hot looks being San Francisco Victorians, Berkeley Arts and Craft, upper class Penisula homes, including mansions, ultra modern Marin locations, and shacks and warehouses of anywhere, USA

And what does it pay? Standard rates are anywhere from $500-$4000 per day depending on the location, and length of the shoot. Print jobs (magazines, newspapers, billboards) may take a few hours, commercials a full day or three, and feature films up to three or four months.

The money sounds great but there are giant pitfalls. Imagine miles and miles of cables, lights, dollies, ramps, cameras, trucks, vans, honeywagons, trailers, sound equipment parked in your front yard, front porch, or front room. However many crew members you're told will be attending, you can usually double. You don't get paid for your time to hang around and watch out for your beautiful valuables, and the neighbors are not always excited about the filming, disruption, and noise. Although, most film companies put things back they way they found them, the wear and tear on your home can be immeasureable. You will most definitely have scratches, tears, and fingerprints. You must be doing it for more than the money, you must really enjoy the process.

Don't be fooled into thinking the gorgeous decor that you have so carefully designed will ACTUALLY BE in the film. Usually a film company brings their own set designer and re-does entire houses, sometimes knocking out walls or changing windows, repainting, adding new window treatments...the works. As a designer, this can be disheartening. If you have signed on for a feature film, you or your client may be asked to move out for several months, which can be disruptive especially if you have children. On the positive side, sometimes crews go in and really improve a home or garden. It's not unheard of for them to add ponds, swimming pools or tennis courts. Kitchens and baths are sometimes completely remodeled and the homeowner gets to keep everything. You may also get to be an extra in the movie for an additional $40 per day!

After all that has been said, should you decide casting your home is for you, make sure you get a contract with an insurance policy signed by the producer. Most good location scouts are honest and tell you the whole story. If you are concerned about damage, don't do it.

Knowing all this, how do you get your home/client's home in the film business? Take at least a roll of 36 shots including interiors and exteriors, wide angles and close ups. For exterior shots, walk across the street and shoot from a distance, and make sure to include special things like gates, aviaries, pools, ponds, waterfalls, lawns. For interiors, shoot every room from different angles and include architectural details such as fireplaces, staircases, winecellars, high ceilings, lots of windows. Write a description of your property, dimensions, and details, and make sure to include your name, address, phone number, pager, etc.

The following film commissions keep binders on file of locations with star potential:

    Berkeley Film Office
    1834 University Ave.
    Berkeley 94703

    Oakland Film Commission
    1333 Broadway
    Oakland 94612

    San Francisco Film Commission
    401 Van Ness Ave. #417
    San Francisco 94102

    Sonoma County Film Commission
    5000 Roberts Lake Road # A
    Rohnert Park 94928

After years in the acting business and hundreds of shoots, would I allow my interiors to be used in any of the above? My answer is a resounding "NO WAY, JOSE!"

If after all you've read, you are still interested, may your interiors have the Starstyle for that next great casting call! See you in the movies!

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Last Updated December 12, 1997