Negotiating Location Fees
The first question most people ask when talking about renting their home is, ‘How much is the location fee?’ The short answer is, “It depends”, as every shoot is different. The rule of thumb is the location fee for one day of filming is about equal to your monthly mortgage or rent. Keep in mind there are a lot of variables that will affect the actual location fees offered.
Every production is different, and even pictures with the same dollar budgets will budget their location costs differently. The only real constant for any producer is the overall budget. If they have raised 10 million dollars, then that is what they have to spend. How they allocate it will determine a location manager’s budget and the location fees they can offer for a location.
In Location Filming, Not Every Day Is Equal
Did you notice I said “one day of filming” in the last paragraph? That’s because, in film production, not every day is equal. A location could involve more than one kind of day. There are basically three kinds: prep days, filming (shoot) days, and wrap days. Depending on any number of variables, a location could require a prep day(s) or a wrap day(s), or both. They may need a pre-production day to prep for filming and/or a day after filming to reset your house. The location fee offered for non-filming days could be half of the rate for filming days.
For a one day rental, the plan will be to prep, shoot, and wrap the location in the one day. Regardless of what other activities are occurring, if any filming takes place consider that a filming day. Usually, non-filming days are shorter than filming days with a smaller crew with the impact on the homeowner being less. Where this is not the case, a homeowner may want to negotiate the rate on non-filming days to compensate for the disruption.
It’s important to remember, when negotiating location fees, not every day may be a filming day.
Be Reasonable When Negotiating Location Filming Fees
How much a production company offers you is affected by the budget and what they need from your location. This can vary greatly depending on the script and the scene(s) they will be filming. The more they need, the more you should expect to be paid. Kind of like buying pizza, you expect to pay more for the whole pizza than for a slice. Where filming involves an extended period of time, they might negotiate off-site accommodations for the duration of filming.
The following questions can give you an idea of the variety of possibilities that a location manager could be considering.
- Exterior versus Interior filming?
- Are they wanting to film inside the home? One room, or will they need access to multiple parts of the house?
- Do they want to film just in the driveway/front yard only?
- Will they want to film in the backyard only?
- How much space do they want to set up their equipment?
- Will they bring a generator or be using your electricity?
- How big is their crew?
- How many days will they need the location?
- Will there be any non-filming days? Rate? (Non-filming days could be a down day, like the weekend, or a holiday, but you could still be inconvenienced.)
Keep in mind, if your price demands are too high they will find another place that suits their needs. You want to be reasonable when negotiating a price.
I recommend you go to our Renting Your Home As A Film Location page for a more information about filming locations and resources to aid you in being ready to host a film crew. Your state and local film office is also a good source for information. Considering California’s long film history, you might also want to visit the California Film Commission website.
Know The Tax Rules
The last thing I’ll mention is about the money once you have it. Under current IRS rules, a homeowner can rent their home out up to 14 days a year tax free. If you exceed the 14 days then all of the income, from day 1, becomes taxable. That said, I’m not a tax guy. You should consult a tax professional regarding the tax rules in your State. It’s your responsibility to know the tax rules.
(This article was originally posted on Jun 21, 2012. It has been edited from its original publication.)