SO, you want to be in pictures? Or at least you want your house to be? It helps if you pull the covers up in an architectural view home with lots of glass and sleek lines and have neighbors who frequently vacation.
But Hollywood also needs houses with the Archie Bunker look, the kind real people live in, according to James Perry of West Adams Locations. If your house isn't too cluttered and has space to accommodate cameras and lights, it may have a promising future in showbiz. If it can pass for a residence in Anywhere U.S.A. -- no stucco or palm trees -- all the better.
"To successfully market your home as a film location, your approach should resemble that of an actor," said Perry, author of the upcoming book "Opening Your Door to Hollywood: How to Get Rich by Turning Your Property Into a Movie Set." "Two things all successful actors must have are perseverance and the willingness to work hard." Not to mention the ability to handle rejection -- you may get a lot of "sorry, maybe next times" before your house gets its big break.
Last year, there were more than 30,000 days of location filming for which permits were pulled in the Los Angeles area. Permits are required for any filming that takes place outside a soundstage or a film studio. About 70% to 80% of location filming in Southern California occurs in private residences.
Here's what you need to do to make your home a star:
Submit your house as a possible location
Just as movie stars hire publicists, your house needs to be seen if it's going to land a gig. Encino resident Ramona Hennesy creates brochures showing her house's best features and sends them off to location scouts all over town. Her efforts have paid off. Several commercials have been filmed in her ranch home. Last year, the house had a featured role in the film "A Lot Like Love." Both the interior and the backyard were used, and her carport was even transformed into Ashton Kutcher's bedroom.
Find out how much your house will earn
Everyone has a break-even point -- the point at which the inconvenience and wear and tear on your house become worthwhile. On a big-budget Hollywood film, your house can earn anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 a day. You are also paid for prep days and put up at a hotel if you have to move out during the shoot. And as for Fido -- pets are boarded at the studio's expense.
The fees you earn from the production company are negotiable, but avoid making unrealistic demands. If you do, you may hear that adage that is all too familiar in Hollywood: "Don't call us, we'll call you."
The IRS allows you to rent out your house for up to 14 days per year tax free. After that, your earnings will count as income.
Get in touch with your local film commission
Most state governments have set up commissions to encourage filmmakers to shoot there and to help homeowners who would like their residences to be considered as a location. The website for the California Film Commission at www.film.ca.gov contains information on how to market your home and provides a list of regional film offices.
Be prepared for what you're getting into
Are you the kind of person who flips out if the cleaning lady moves a vase on your carefully composed coffee table? Do you ask your friends to remove their shoes before they walk on your parquet floors? Does the thought of 50 to 100 strangers in your home cause you to hyperventilate? If so, getting your house in the movies may not be for you. You can have the most respectful crew in the history of Hollywood and there will still be occasional nicks and scuffs.
Cameron Kelley and Jim Grace recently rented out their 100-year-old home in Koreatown for a film being directed by Christopher Nolan ("Memento," "Batman Begins"). Kelley and Grace were amazed to see their elegant home, a registered cultural landmark, transformed into a seedy, late 19th century London slum -- "residences" of the stars of "The Prestige," Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale.
Their home's rich woodwork was aged and made to look like it was cracking and peeling. The beautifully plastered walls were covered with decaying wallpaper, and dusty antique props filled every nook and cranny.
This was the first time Kelley and Grace had rented out their beloved home for a film shoot, and they found the experience to be an emotional rollercoaster.
"If you're a control freak or a neat freak, don't do it," Kelley warned.
"We knew they'd restore everything to its original condition, but it was still nerve-wracking to see what they were doing to our house," Grace said. "Next time, we might leave the country for the duration!"