Is your home the next film star?
You've got a drop-dead view from your terrace, a '50s-style kitchen in your brownstone, a loft worthy of Mr. Big. You think your apartment can be a movie star - that it's perfect for a film, television show or commercial shoot. But is it? And if it is, how can you make it happen?
Damon Gordon, a location manager who has worked on feature films ("The Adjustment Bureau," "The Interpreter," "Everybody's Fine"), TV ("Sex and the City") and commercials (Jet Blue) claims that "if you have something great and it's available, we'll find you."
But that doesn't mean you should sit back and wait for a location scout or manager to knock on your door. There are lots of ways to get your apartment noticed by a scout (the person who goes out preproduction to find the locations, takes photos, gathers information) or a manager (the one who works on the film from start to finish, arranging for shoots, negotiating permits, logistics, insurance, etc.).
On some projects, the scouting and the managing are done by the same person. Some scouts and managers count on location services who act as brokers to help them. Location services charge a fee, scouts and managers don't. Check the sidebar to see how to find scouts, managers or location services that might want to take a look at your apartment.
Meanwhile, the city's production industry is jumping.
"Last year, 188 feature films were shot on location here" and we're "home to 23 prime time TV series," according to Katherine Oliver, commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment. That's not counting the commercials, music videos and fashion shoots.
Before you make the leap and enter your apartment in the make-my-home-a-location sweepstakes, consider some of the pros and cons.
The pros: The cachet you and your building will get for being a location; the chance to learn something about the production process; meeting the people involved with a shoot and, of course, the fee.
The cons: Having lots of people you don't know in and out of your apartment (a typical movie crew can be 80 people, but a commercial shoot may be just four or five); the possibility of angry neighbors; having your routine turned upside down; and the chance that valuables may get damaged.
How much money will you make? One of the biggest misconceptions about having your apartment used for a shoot is how much money you'll make on the deal.
As location manager Santiago Quinones ("You've Got Mail," "Law & Order") puts it: Even if your apartment is going to be used for a feature film, "you're not going to get rich. You may be able to take a nice vacation, or pay for a piece of a nice vacation, but that's it."
One person in the business estimated that $2,500 to $5,000 per day is about average for a major film, but she added that some may pay only $500.
Every job is negotiated individually; there's no standard rate sheet. What you are paid depends on how long your apartment will be used and what the project budget can stand.
For a film shoot, the location manager will figure a rate for the time it takes for the prep work (packing your stuff up and putting it into storage), for the actual filming, for the process of putting everything back in place. On a one day commercial shoot, it will be a flat daily rate.
Mikey Rox, who recently had his two-bedroom condo in Harlem used for a fashion shoot, was paid $250.
What will your neighbors say? All managers and scouts agree: If you're not the owner of the building where the shoot will take place, you need the full sanction and cooperation of the owner, your neighbors, your co-op or condo board.
No cutting corners on this one.
Peter Ferraro, the president of the board of an Upper East Side co-op which has hosted shoots for "Person of Interest," "The Switch" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," says that for it to work, the board has to know what to expect.
"We have to be flexible - plans change, scenes are rewritten. The residents have to be willing, the super and management need to be supportive - there's a lot of work for a lot of people when there's a shoot."
What are the scouts/managers looking for? From the very start of the production process, a location manager works with the designers and the director to find the exact spot that fits the writer's and director's vision.
Isabel Kostic, a veteran location manager ("Amistad," "Malcolm X") who collects an extensive file of location possibilities through her website site4view.com, likes "period shoots the best.
"They're the most interesting. ... Some of the things we've been looking for lately are original midcentury kitchens," she added. "Rooms where the old wall paper is still on the wall, molded and tin ceilings."
Kostic has been finding what she's looking for in Harlem, the Bronx and, particularly now, in the often untouched interiors of Staten Island.
What's it like to host a shoot? Debra Rosenberg, who lives on the Upper West Side, has had seven shoots in her apartment during the 15 years she's lived there - and she'd like more.
In April, an episode of "Person of Interest" featured her family's three-bedroom apartment that has all of the prewar detail that location production people love - fireplace, molded ceilings, herringbone floors and pocket doors that open up the space between rooms to make filming easier.
"The people we've worked with have been great - Kristen Wiig, Michael Emerson, all of them," she said. "The fee helps with New York expenses. We've gone through a few lamp shades and had a few smudges on the wall, but everything gets fixed and it's really fun."
Here's where to look if you want your apartment noticed by a location scout, manager or service:
ALSAM.com: website of the Association of Location Scouts and Managers with links to 40 members
NewYork411.com: Lists of location scouts, managers and location photo libraries.
ProdcutionHub.com: On-line marketplace that lists professional location people.
NYPG.com: Production guide for the city; click on Location Finders.
Nyc.gov/mome: Although you can't list your apartment with the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, there are a few links to real