Rent your house as a film location: What it’s like

Last year we started asking readers to do this send us your urgent questions via Los Angeles and California.

Every few weeks we post the voting questions and invite readers to decide which question we should answer in the form of a story.

This question we found on the #AskLosAngeles subredditcame second in one of our recent reader polls: What’s it like offering your home as a filming location?

It was a windy night in late March 2021. A movie was being shot on an otherwise quiet residential street in Pasadena.

Suddenly a light crane fell on its sidehitting the roof of a two-storey house.

According to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, no one was injured Photos and video of the incident revealed smashed clapboards and siding – nobody imagined a peaceful Tuesday night.

Having a Hollywood movie or TV show in your home or neighborhood sounds glamorous, and it can be.

But on the other hand, there is always a risk of damage during a shoot, although fortunately situations like an overturned lighting crane are rare.

Despite the risks, many Angelenos allow their homes to be turned into film sets.

“Some do it for the money. And some people just like doing it because they like that type of activity,” said Paul Kim, founder and owner of Image Locations, a company that has matched homeowners with productions that sometimes involve A-listers like Beyoncé and Oprah Winfrey are , Leonardo DiCaprio and Lady Gaga.

Let’s get down to business: how much can you make renting out your home as a film location?

“People used to be okay with $4,000 or $5,000 for a 12- or 14-hour day,” Kim said. Now, “site budgets have doubled or tripled.”

“The upper end of our homeowners make $1 million a year. The lower end, probably $12,000.”

One of Kim’s clients – a homeowner in Sherman Oaks – hit the location jackpot after his home was used as one of the main locations of Made for Love, a series that aired on HBO Max. “They said they paid for their kids’ college with that one show.”

There is also a tax advantage: Homeowners can rent out their house, also as a film location, for up to 14 days a year without having to pay tax on the income generated.

Can every homeowner expect that kind of payday by renting out their home as a movie set?

Not quite. As you’d expect, filmmakers can be pretty picky about where they choose to shoot.

In the beginning, Image Locations “took anyone because we wanted the volume,” Kim said, recalling his early location recruiting strategies. Now, “we really want the over-the-top, unique homes that have a lot of space to work with.”

“It could be a huge mansion in the Hollywood Hills or Malibu. But if it’s kind of unique, like if it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright, we’d take it,” he said.

Would you like to rent your home as a film location? Wondering how the scouting process works? My colleague Jon Healey, senior editor on the Times’ utility journalism team, will tell you all about it.

Thinking about listing your home as a filming location? Has a scout or two knocked on your door yet? Here are some questions to ask yourself.

First, take a good look around guidance released by the California Film Commission describing what to expect during the production process.

“When a stranger knocks on your door and says, ‘Hey, we want to use your house,’ you want to ask, ‘Who is the production company?’ said Kim.

You should also ask for proof of insurance and make sure it hasn’t expired, Kim said.

Kim only works with productions that are “fully insured,” he said. “They currently have at least $1 million worth of general liability. [And] We charge $2 million for larger houses for general liability.”

Make sure you check the insurance policy to make sure you’re also protected from liability, Healey notes in his story.

Kim also advises homeowners to post a deposit in case of an accident. “I’d say between $2,500 and $10,000” depending on how extensive the scenes are and how much of the house is being used.

Image Locations typically holds a deposit of around $10,000 for incidentals like a broken sprinkler head that’s rarely used, he said. “In the 20 years that I’ve been doing this, I think I’ve had less than 10 insurance claims.”

Now to answer the original question: what does filming in a private home entail? What are some of the risks?

The experience of inviting a film crew into your home can take many different forms.

“Sometimes it’s just two actors and they’re talking on the porch or something like that — to the point of huge fight scenes all over the house [with] all sorts of things that get shot or blown up,” said recording engineer Tom Curley, who has “worked in just about every type of abode you can think of, from a shack in the jungle in Colombia to 80 million -dollar mansions and everything in between.”

On a typical day of shooting, a main cast and crew of 70 to 80 people will enter the house, Kim said, although that number could rise to 150 or 200 people depending on how many extras are needed in the scene. “They will have a moving truck and they will put your furniture in their truck and take it out [set] Furniture. … A homeowner has to be okay with such things.”

Curley said he has never seen major damage to a private home in his more than two decades on film sets.

“Generally, the worst thing I’ve seen is a stand or device banging into a wall and causing minor damage to sheetrock or maybe some molding around a door,” he said. “Also, some ground damage is possible.”

Alison Kelly, a retired nutritionist, had both the Closer and NCIS shoots at her Craftsman home in Larchmont.

She’s never had a headache from filming at her house, aside from one instance when the production crew started a fire in her fireplace and forgot to open the vent.

“The house got very hot very quickly,” she said. “Some people are just a little bit clueless … I wouldn’t say everyone is like that, but you always have to be aware of that.”

Kelly recommends asking the production to use layout boards to protect the floor and to “make sure they document the condition of your home and belongings before you start filming.”

Having film crews in her home has been a consistently positive experience, she said. “The people we dealt with were professional,” she said. “I’m grateful to be able to sit back and watch the fun process.”

She also received some unexpected home improvement from NCIS crew members. Before filming, she had the foundation of her house redone, which resulted in some of the walls cracking.

“It was unsightly,” she said. During the production process, crew members eventually repaired the damage. “That was pretty awesome.”

Aside from benefits like home improvement, the potential for home damage — however minor — means homeowners shouldn’t be shy about asking any questions they might have, Curley said.

“It’s important to communicate any concerns and make sure everything is agreed in writing. Make sure you protect yourself as best you can,” he advised.

Afterwards, Curley said, “Have fun and make some money with it.” Rent your house as a film location: What it’s like

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Sarah Ridley is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Sarah Ridley joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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