Tamara Mowry-Housley and Paul Campbell are talking as they walk in front of a house that's decorated for Christmas

How to Rent Your Home as a Filming Location

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Christine Coughlin

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Lifestyle

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Are you looking for a side-hustle that makes good money, includes paid vacations and comes with possible home improvements?

If you said, “Ummm, yes, please!!”

Grab your coffee, sit back and let me tell you how my dream side-hustle became a reality and everything you need to know about how to rent your home as a filming location.

Tamara Mowry-Housley, Paul Campbell and Joe Pantoliano sit on the front porch steps smiling at the camera infant of a house that is decorated for Christmas. How to rent your home as a filming location
Paul Campbell, Tamara Mowry-Houseley & Joe Pantoliano, while filming, The Santa Stakeout.
Photo Credit: Hallmark Movies

Looking For More

In 2019, I started dreaming about ways to contribute financially to my family. As a stay-at-home mom whose husband has an unpredictable work schedule, I had to get creative in finding a money-making side-hustle, that was flexible.

I began by taking stock of my assets. I realized the gorgeous main floor of my house would be perfect for filming movies, TV and even for content creators that needed a beautiful light and bright space.

Tamara Mowry-Housley and Paul Campbell are talking as they walk in front of a house that's decorated for Christmas
Tamara Mowry-Housley and Paul Campbell while filming, The Santa Stakeout
Photo credit: Hallmark Movies

Hollywood Came Knocking

In 2020, Holywood came calling. Actually, it was Hallmark, but it was a dream come true either way.

We ended up booking two movies. The first one was called, The Santa Stakeout, which was filmed in August of 2021, and starred Tamara Mowry-Housley, Paul Campbell and Joe Pantoliano. 

The second movie, The Eight Gifts of Hanukkah, was filmed in October 2021 and starred Inbar Lavi and Jake Epstein. 

Joe Pantoliano, Paul Campbell, Tamara Mowry-Housley and cast while filming, The Santa Stakeout
Photo credit: Hallmark Movies

What to Expect When You Rent Your Home for Filming

Booking a movie or television show is exciting and at first, can feel like “free money”. I quickly learned a few days of filming can take weeks of work before and after the actual filming days. So make sure you negotiate your location rental price wisely. (More on that below.)

Without further ado, here is everything you need to know about how to rent your home as a filming location. Starting with what to expect when you rent your home for filming.

You Need A Flexible Schedule

You will need to make your home available for pop-by visits and last-minute site checks. 

Expect them to book and rebook the same appointments regularly and then still show up an hour late. They have many moving parts and people to coordinate, so they run on “movie people” time. 

Strangers Everywhere

Be prepared to have lots of strangers in your home. I really had to think about this before agreeing to move forward with our first movie.

Before filming starts, you can expect to have visits from production scouts, directors, location managers, the tech scout and set decorators (set dec).

Once filming starts, these numbers skyrocket. Then after filming wraps, you will have a cleaning crew and a team to repair any deficiencies.

Uncertainty

They will be looking at several properties in the beginning. It’s possible to go through several initial visits and still not book the shoot. 

Remember, nothing is for sure until both parties sign the contract and the location rental cheque is in your bank account. 

This can make booking accommodations for yourself tricky. We did not get the location rental contract for either movie we filmed until one or two days before filming started. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Hot Tip: Get something in writing from your location manager that says the production company will cover any “sunk costs” if they cancel last minuteโ€”for example, a non-refundable deposit on your accommodation.

Your Work Comes After Filming Wraps

After filming wraps, you have five days to report any damage or missing items. (This was true for Hallmark movies, double-check your contract for the timeline.)

You will need to do a walk-through with your location manger.

You’ll need to provide proof of pre-filming conditions for anything your location manager disputes.

You’ll have to source and replace any missing items and submit receipts.

Hot Tip: Make sure you find out how long you have to source and submit receipts from your location manager.

You will manage any trades-people who are doing repairs to ensure the completed work is to your standards. This killed the people-pleaser in me, but I don’t mess around when it comes to the home we are working to build. ๐Ÿ˜˜

Inbar Lavi and cast while filming, The Eight Gifts of Hanukkah
Photo credit: Hallmark Movies

The Pros of Using Your House for a Filming Location

The goal of a good production company is to put your home back the same or better than they found it, so ideally, you should come out ahead.

  • This could mean fresh paint, repaired drywall and a deep clean by a professional cleaning company. 
  • Your house is famous, and that feels thrilling. 
  • I loved that it introduced my kids to careers in a creative field.
  • You get a front-row seat to view the magic of filming.
  • You get a paid vacation. 
  • You can get fresh ideas on how to decorate and layout your furniture. 
  • Sometimes they leave decor behind and tell you to keep it.
  • It can bring your neighbourhood together. While filming, we met some neighbours we hadn’t met in five years of living here. 
  • The production company will have security guards on-site whenever they aren’t filming so you can feel secure knowing your property is safe.

The Cons of Using Your House as a Filming Location

  • Packing up your valuables and a family is a LOT of work and very disruptive to schedules.
  • The experience from one production team to the next is very unpredictable. Some crews are cautious, and others are more destructive and disorganized.  
  • Your neighbours may start to resent you. (See the neighbourly relations section below to minimize this.)
  • Completely protecting hardwood floors and proving what damage was already existing is very difficult. We have very old carpets upstairs, but I imagine the wear on new carpets would give me a heart attack. ๐Ÿ˜‚
  • Sourcing lost items can be frustrating and time-consuming. It’s on you to prove what went missing and find the replacements.
  • Even if you are careful, you will likely miss items from your deficiency list. For example, I found that the window sill and doorway to my primary bathroom had several paint/drywall scratches, and our paper towel holder had been destroyed weeks after filming. By then, it was too late to add items to my deficiency list. 
Inbar Lavi, Jake Epstein and cast, while filming, The Eight Gifts of Hanukkah
Photo credit: Hallmark Movies

What To Discuss Before Negotiating Your Location Rental Fee

The location manager will be your new best friend. Before you start negotiating your location rental fee or your accommodation and food budgets, it helps to understand the following:

  • How many filming days will they need your property for?
  • How many prep and wrap days will they need your property for?
  • Will they be doing exterior shots? Will there be any outdoor night shoots? Will they be filming any exterior shots while you are still in the home?
  • Will they need to use your furniture? Is there any furniture you won’t allow them to use? Where will they be storing any furniture they aren’t using?
  • Will they need to paint any parts of your home, make structural changes, or adjust your landscaping?
  • If you have more than one vehicle or a recreational vehicle, can it stay on-site, or will they need it moved? Do they provide a secure place to move your vehicles? Will they move vehicles, or will you?
  • How big is the production? How many cast and crew are they expecting to have on your property?
  • How will they be protecting your flooring?
  • What genre are they filming? Comedy, Romance, Horror, Drama.
  • Will the cast and crew use your washrooms, or do they have off-site facilities?
  • Do they expect to use your Wifi?
  • How much of your home do they plan to use? Are there any areas of your home that are off-limits? Will they be using your garage?
  • Will they be using your water, electricity, laundry, fireplace or kitchen?
  • Will they be using any special effects? For example, smoke, snow, fire, gunshots, or simulated explosions?
  • Will they need to park any heavy equipment or vehicles on your property?
  • Do they provide a damage deposit? How much?
  • Ask if they have a repair crew on their team or are hiring outside trades? If they are hiring trades, repairs can take longer to be completed.
The cast of, The Santa Stakeout
Photo credit: Hallmark Movies

How Much Do You Charge For A Filming Location Rental?

By now your probably thinking, “Okay great, but how much should I charge for a filming location fee?”

There is no set rate for renting your home for movie and T.V. filming. It is up to you and the production company to negotiate.

Generally, you can charge between $1000-$5000 per day for a residential filming location rental, but it really depends on how well your home fits the director’s vision and the production budget.

Prep and wrap days are usually charged at about half the cost of filming days, but remember, everything is negotiable.

Your home is one of your most significant investments, and you should be compensated for the disruption to your life and wear and tear on your home. Negotiate wisely.

Jake Epstein and cast member, while filming, The Eight Gifts of Hanukkah
Photo credit: Hallmark Movies

How Much Do You Get Paid For Accommodation and Food?

If you are required to move out of your home, the production company will pay for your accommodation and give you a budget for food while you are away. 

Hot Tip: The rental fee is taxed as income, and the money for accommodation and food is not. Make sure your contract reflects the two amounts separately. 

Accommodation

You will need to research the prices of either hotels or Air B&Bs and let the location manager know how much it will cost for your accommodation. We paid for this out of pocket and were reimbursed once we signed the contract.

Hot Tip: Make sure to get in writing from your location manager that the production company will cover any non-refundable deposit costs if they pull out of the project last minute.

We are a family of five and have done two relatively long movie shoots. We find that Air B&B is a better option than a hotel because we need a kitchen and it allows everyone to have their rooms. 

Hot Tip: You have to leave your home at 7 am the day filming begins. If you have a family and stay local, negotiate accommodations for the night before the production company takes over your house.

You will have to come back at 7 am to hand over the keys and do the walk-thru with the location manager. You don’t want kids underfoot when you are doing this.

Food

The food budget is calculated per person. We charged $50 per person, per day for food.

Not living on junk food is important to us. Finding accommodation with a kitchen helps us keep the kid’s diets closer to normal and helps keep food costs down.

Hot Tip: You usually don’t get back into your house until evening on the wrap-up day. Make sure you negotiate your food budget for this day as well.  

Paul Campbell and Tamara Mowry-Housley while filming, The Santa Stakeout
Photo credit: Hallmark Movies

What To Do Before You Hand Over the Keys 

Get a schedule of the filming times. 

Remove and store any items that can’t be replaced with money. For me, that means storing all of my Nana’s china, any decor I don’t want to risk losing. Pack away any paperwork, family photos, kid’s artwork or personal items you want to keep private.

Walk around your home with a video camera and film every corner of every room. You want to do this slowly and carefully, noting any existing damage and capturing your belongings. This video will help you when you do your walk-through after the movie wraps. Also if any issues arise you can show the location manager the before state of your property.

Don’t forget to document the following:

  • Floors
  • Ceilings
  • Crown Molding
  • Window Sills
  • Walls
  • Stair Railings
  • Door Frames
  • Outside, including front and back yard, porch, gardens, fences, walkways, doors, and any outdoor furniture or decor items.
Inbar Lavi while filming, The Eight Gifts of Hanukkah
Photo credit: Hallmark Movies

What To Do Once Filming Wraps in Your Home

Make sure you a happy with the cleaning job. Remember to check the ceilings and crown moldings for smudges. They often tape things to the ceiling while filming.

If you gave the director your WiFi password, switch to a new one.

Walk through every room, while replaying the video you took before the shoot.

Create a spreadsheet with all damage and lost items.

Book your walk-thru with the location manager.

Hot Tip: Wait as close as possible to the five-day mark before doing the walk-through with your location manager. You need to live in the space a little bit to notice all the deficiencies.

Email a copy of your spreadsheet of deficiencies to the location manager.

Ask the location manager if there were any issues with the neighbours you should be aware of. Ask how the issues were resolved. Depending on your relationship with the neighbour, you may want to follow up.

Joe Pantoliano, while filming, The Santa Stakeout.
Photo Credit: Hallmark Movies

Know Your Limits

Minimum Rental Price

Know the minimum price you’re willing to accept to move out of your home. Knowing how much work goes into prep and repair and how disruptive filming is to our family and neighbourhood means we won’t be saying yes to every opportunity that presents itself. Have this conversation with your partner before negotiating.

Acceptable Genres

Our home has been used for two holiday Hallmark movies which I love. I would not be as willing to rent our home for a horror/or killing spree type of drama. I 100% don’t want any zombie energy in this house. I’d never sleep. ๐Ÿ˜…

What Alterations Are You Comfortable With?

While you do need to be fairly flexible. Don’t be scared to say no to things that really matter to you.

They asked if they could prune one of our trees during the last movie shoot, a tree we just planted and are trying to get established. When we said no, they just brought in some planted cedars to block the view instead.

Inbar Lavi while filming, The Eight Gifts of Hanukkah
Photo credit: Hallmark Movies

Neighbourly Relations 

The production company must poll neighbours and make sure the majority of families are happy to get their permits for filming.

During our first movie, our neighbours were thrilled, and many of them thanked us for helping them make some extra money and being part of the excitement.

After our second movie shoot in two months, a couple of our neighbours felt frustrated by the interruption to our otherwise quiet neighbourhood. 

To keep everyone happy, when you are chatting with your neighbours, I would let them know they also have negotiating power. There are several ways to earn money from the filming in the neighbourhood.

Ways for Neighbours to Make Money During A Film Shoot

  • Have trucks, equipment and kraft services on their properties. 
  • Have the outsides of their homes decorated. 
  • Rent rooms for cast and crew to use.
  • Rent garages for storage.
  • Hotel and food costs can be covered, if they feel filming will be too much of an inconvenience. 
Our home decorated for, The Santa Stakeout
Photo credit: Hallmark Movies

How To Rent Your House For Movies In Vancouver and Surrounding Areas

Since filming our movies, I’ve been asked several times, “how can I promote my home as a filming location?” The truth is our town is a hotbed of filming, so we were fortunate and had a location scout approach us to see if we were interested. 

Here are a few ways to rent your home for filming movies and tv shows:

List on a Location Directory

Create BC– is an online registry run by the provincial agency Creative B.C. You can create a listing by following their detailed guidelines to provide a digital photo tour of your property.

Location Scouts

Scouts knock on doors of houses that have good curb appeal or match the directive they have received from their director. If you aren’t home, they will leave a letter telling you they are interested and provide contact numbers to follow up. 

How do you confirm that a location scout is legit?

It can feel odd for a stranger to knock on your door and ask if they can come in and take photos to show to their “director.”

To confirm the request is on the up and up, you can ask to see their location manager guild card, and you can check with the Location Managers Guild International to confirm they are in good standing.

Location Agency

The States have lots of location agencies. They work like a modelling or acting agency and will generally reach out to you if they feel your home is right for their roaster. They will take a percentage of your location rental fee.

Is Renting Your Home as a Filming Location a Good Side Hustle?

Heck yes! While there were obstacles to overcome with our previous experiences, the benefits far outweighed any negatives we experienced.

As a stay-at-home mom renting our home to be used for filming movies and T.V. was a thrilling way to contribute financially to my family. Renting the house added some excitement and adventure to our lives, and we even managed to get some freshly painted walls and a deep clean out of the deal.

What Types of Houses Can Be Used For Sets on TV and Film Shoots?

It takes all types of homes to make the magic of film and television a reality. Location scouts will look for homes from all decades, from mansions to run-down cabins.

It never hurts to list your home. You never know whose vision it may match.

If you are considering renting your home for film, television or commercials, I’m happy to answer any questions you might have. Drop your questions in the comments below, and I’ll get back to you a.s.a.p.

Would you ever rent your home to be used as a filming location?
Or, Have you ever rented your home for movies or television? Was it a good experience?


About the Author

Christine lives on the West Coast of Canada with her husband, their three kids and approximately one million plant babies.

After being a stay-at-home mom for a decade, she is in that awkward phase of figuring out exactly who she is besides a mom.

She is a personal development junkie. Loves writing, baking, hiking, yoga, gardening, paddleboarding and people who look for the best in others and aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves.

  1. Karen says:

    Hello there!
    Our family has a farm out in Alberta, and are very interested in listing as a location with film and tv. We have plenty of buildings, antique vehicles, and other cool things that could be used on set. I have tried looking up a list agency like Create BC, but for Alberta, and have had no luck. Do you have any insight, or can guide me?
    Thank you! Great article. ๐Ÿ™‚

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