You saw her home full of flamingos and guilt, but did you also know that Sherry’s home has also been full of film crews? This is what you should know about making your house a movie star…
In the last three years approximately 10 film crews have been in and out of my house making art — from music videos to promotional spots to short films, hair cut abstracts, and webisodes. I had a woman “murdered” in my basement, vampires in my backyard, a creepy, creepy doll come to life and stalk people, a bomb detonated (special effects, not an actual bomb) in my garage, even a model sequestered away in the basement just for haircuts.
I love being able to help local artists in any way possible. I’m lousy on film, can barely manage my own hair and makeup, but I can provide a location! It’s been a fun experience for me, and luckily all positive. I trust the two directors I’ve worked with, and they’ve both been really, really great about treating my house with respect — cleaning up after themselves, and (knock on wood) so far there has been no damage or long term problems stemming from the shoots. (Well, one mild paranormal happening, but white sage cleared that up).
That said, if you’re interested in opening your home to the bright lights and cameras, there’s a few ways to prepare…
1. Be flexible
Call times change, crews run late, it can take longer than expected to get the shot. Some shoots seem to go well, but don’t turn out on film and need to be re-shot. I try, as much as possible, to leave while the crews are working, but it can be difficult to be away from home all day, especially if I need to take the dog. I’ve learned to save as many errands as possible for shoot days, or have other plans arranged (great time for a spa day). BE WARNED: aimless wandering and shopping can be very dangerous. My personal movie collection has been greatly increased in size (and my checking account decreased in size) after too much time browsing box store movie sections to kill time.
2. Be prepared for mess
The crews have been great cleaning up after themselves, but there are always, always little things — bits of fake blood that got overlooked, dirt tracked up from the basement, furniture rearranged and not quite back where it started, left behind scripts, or chargers, or coffins. If you stay on set during a shoot be prepared to see everything topsy turvy. If you’re particular, or don’t like things touched/moved, it’s probably not a good idea to open your home. If you’re like me and don’t mind the chaos, and enjoy watching the creative process, then find a crew and invite them in.
We have a shoot coming up that will be a late night. I have a kiddo that needs to be in bed by eight. The director and I have been in contact about what will be shot, which rooms, the noise level, all the parts involved. I don’t want to screw up his film schedule by springing restrictions on him at the last minute, and he is very respectful that we’re a family and this is our home/routine. Let the crews know if there are areas off-limits. Let them know if it’s okay to break things: Light bulbs for effect — yes. Windows or walls — no. Let them know if it’s okay to rearrange furniture, move lamps, use props. Is it okay to have catering in the kitchen? Can hair/make up use the bathrooms?
4. Shit happens
For example… No one could have predicted that a pentagram made with flour and a goat skull in the basement could actually cause paranormal activity. After all the people in and out of the basement, one finally found a stray nail with his shoe/foot. Bumps, bruises, spills are bound to happen. I’ve learned to keep white sage and a first aid kit handy.
Without support, the film festivals and competitions will disappear. It’s a blast to attend the festivals and screenings. It only takes a few minutes to go online and watch a clip and vote in a competition. For me, it’s energizing to see other people’s creativity and vision come together in a finished project. It’s also a great way to meet more creative people and expand networks.
One final bonus to all this:
Having film crews use my house has been a kick in the rear to get me moving. I battle depression and it’s way too easy to sit on my couch and do nothing some days. Knowing a film crew is coming makes me get the dishes done, get the stacks of paper and mail and mess cleaned up, laundry piles out of the bathroom. It gives me the desire to tackle home projects like patching/painting walls, decorating empty rooms, painting and updating the front porch. If my house is going to be on film forever, I’m totally vain and want it to look good! It forces me out of the house when I’d rather hide, it sparks my creativity and writing seeing what others are doing. It’s been as beneficial to me as it has been (I hope) to the crews. They don’t pay me, I don’t ask for money; what we both get is much more valuable in the end.
To get involved:
Attend film festivals or screenings in your area — go where the creators are. There’s location registries online as well, and some talent agencies keep lists of locations (or make up, hair, support staff) to offer to directors.
Anyone else have homes that are movie stars? What are your tips for opening up your home to camera crews?