Could My Property Become a Film Location?

by Ariel Penn

Maybe you live in a town known for film production.  Or perhaps you’ve seen your neighbors host filming and you’ve wondered, “Could my property become a film location?”

Your property could become a film location if:

  1. Your geographic area is known as a production center.
  2. There’s a State Film Commission and, even better, a local city film office where you live.
  3. Filming location scouts have shown up at your door.
  4. You have seen filming in your area on a regular basis.
  5. Your property has proper logistics: wide streets, available parking and no noise issues.
  6. Your location has a classic look: wide rooms, neutral colors, nice architectural details.
  7. Your area has a good crew base of available film production personnel. Local sound stages are an extra bonus.
  8. There are film location agents in your city.

How do I know if my geographic area is a production center?

You can determine this with a simple Google search. Type “most filmed cities in (name of your country).”  This is a good way to find out if there’s a demand for filming in your area. For instance, a huge junk of Southern California is a designated production area known as the “Thirty Mile Zone” or TMZ.  This designation is given to a finite portion of L.A. and Orange counties that identify it as a primary production destination.

I  recommend contacting the nearest film commission. Ask them how much filming is done where you live on an annual basis. They should have statistics on this.

Also, do a Google News search to see if local journalists have written articles about filming in your area.  Go to Google News and type “film production (name of your city)” in the search box. For instance, I tried this with “film production atlanta.”  When I do this search, several articles show up which gives me confidence that Atlanta is popular with production companies. One article mentioned Atlanta as a top destination for filmmakers and several other articles talked about specific productions on location in Atlanta at the time.

Is there a  State Film Commission and, even better, a local city film office where you live?

If you live in a state or province with a film commission, this is a good indicator that there’s a demand for filming locations near you.  But the best test of all is to find  a film commission specifically for your city. Cities that have their own film commission are traditionally busy production centers.

Local governments and convention bureaus (the typical place where a local film commission would be located) have tight budgets.  They will not fund a dedicated film commission including the ongoing costs of salaries, benefits, office furniture, supplies and marketing budgets unless they knew there would be a return on their investment. So having a local film commission in your area is one of the best litmus tests for determining a demand for film locations.

To find a film commision in your area, type “film commission (or office) and (the name of your state or city)” to see what comes up. You can also check the website of the Association of Film Commissioners International (www.afci.org) and click on their interactive map to find the film commission nearest you.

Have you had filming location scouts shown up at your door?

Another great litmus test is having a film location scout show up at your door. if a scout finds your property while out cold scouting in your  neighborhood, this is a very good sign indeed. it means they see the potential of your property just by driving by your home or business. They feel what they see on the exterior is a good omen for the filming potential of your interiors.  

If you have scouts show up at your door on a regular basis, this is the best indicator you should consider hosting filming on your property. There’s no greater endorsement than having someone whose business it is to find locations stop by and tell you that they’re interested in your place.  

Have you seen filming in your area on a regular basis?

Do you drive by film productions on a regular basis? Have you spotted what filmmakers call “the circus” near your property?  Are all the trucks, equipment,  personnel either on your block or within a limited radius from your property? If so,  this means filmmakers have discovered your neighborhood. They’ve found a nice collection of filmable properties near you making the area a regular part of their location scouting itineraries.

Once filmmakers find an area that has several great locations, they like to return over and over again. And it makes it easier to establish a filming schedule when they can move a short distance from property to property.

Film crews don’t have a lot of time (or money) for company moves during their filming day.  They need to find their scripted locations within a limited distance  from each other. Without this, the  filming schedule becomes impractical. They can’t shoot one location in the morning and then pack everything up and drive 25 miles away, unpack, film, then pack up again and shoot another location in the evening 10 miles away. Everything, ideally, should be found within a few blocks (or few miles)  of each other. And the perfect scenario would be to find it all in one location.

Does your property have the right stuff or logistics to succeed as a film location?

There are a few things filmmakers look for when determining if your property has the right stuff to work logistically as a film location. First thing,  they look for a property where they can park trucks and unload equipment safely and near the property. If they can’t do this, they won’t film no matter how nice the location. It must be practical. The width of your street will also be considered because large trucks need to fit and unload, but still leave room for fire access.  

The production company will also examine noise issues.  Do  you live near a school, stadium, furniture factory or freeway… all things that provide a constant level of ambient and disturbing noise making it impossible to film?

If the exterior logistics do work,  they will want to look inside your property and take scouting photos to show the director and production designer. Nice wide rooms that can fit a crew of 10 or up to a hundred is critical.  Neutral colors and classic architectural lines are preferred. Properties with unusual details such as loud wallpaper, oddly shaped rooms,  strange color palettes, may find themselves out of the running for a film booking.

Does your area have a  good crew base of available film production personnel?

It’s an added bonus if you live in an area that’s known for film production. There needs to be a good crew base of available production personnel. It’s difficult for film companies to come to an area where there isn’t a good base of trained and talented film personnel.

Otherwise, they may have to fly a capable crew which can be too costly for most productions. If you have neighbors that are in film production and you  live in a city where there is a known crew base,  you should be in pretty good shape. Also, having local services such as sound stages is important to the overall production health of a city.

Are there film location agents in your city?

If you search Google and find that you have film location service agents in your city, this also confirms that your area hosts a lot of filming.  Location service agents are just like Hollywood agents for actors. They get a commission of filming rental fees from the properties they represent. In exchange, they promote the property to their contacts in the film industry.  And they would not be in business if they didn’t have a substantial client base of film locations in your area to represent.

Wrapping it up….

Have you done a mental inventory of the questions above and can answer “yes” to most if not all of them?  If so, we encourage you to learn more about hosting filming by reviewing the helpful articles on the first page of our website. And better yet? Take our free class so you can learn more how you can become a filming host.