Whenever securing locations, it's essential that the scope of the project and the process involved be clearly understood by both filmmaker and private property owner. Determining appropriate contacts and establishing clear communications should be the first order of business. The following guidelines should serve as a starting point to identify specific requirements and restrictions of the filmmaker and property owner. Remember that a request to use private property is a business proposal.
- Initial contact is generally made by a location scout or location manager. This person can be hired locally or can be from out of state. The property owner may request confirmation of credentials which can generally be done through the local film office. If you are securing locations yourself, make sure you contact the local film office prior to your initial contact.
- Outline the nature of the project and how the location will be used. Will there be smoke, gunshots or other effects? It is reasonable for the property owner to request to read the script segment where the property will be used.
- Determine the exact number of days required for the shoot, including prep and strike days plus back up days. Be sure that the owner knows that a day can be as long as a 16 hour period, day or night).
- Arrange for a walk through with the owner to determine exact interiors and exteriors desired for filming; where equipment and vehicles will need to be positioned or parked; any "off-limits" areas as determined by owner; and any areas such as roof, trees, fences, windows, which may need to be used or altered during filming.
- Determine which personal property in or on the location is desired for use, how and where to store items not used and who will be responsible for packing and moving.
- Clear rules should be in place for who will be allowed on "set" (location) during period of use and how it will be enforced.
- Determine rules and regulations regarding: smoking, use of restrooms, water, electricity, kitchen, food, laundry, trash, where meals will be eaten, floor coverings, etc.
- Determine phone use and how the phone bill will be covered. ($20 up front courtesy? All calls collect? Calls to production office only?).
- Determine how the owner’s family will be accommodated during filming and any living expenses that may be required.
- Designate parking for personal vehicles.
- Determine clean-up requirements; who is responsible, cleanup is to be completed within 24-48 hours and arrange for the final "walk-thru" for the owner approval.
- Location fees are negotiable. Payment should be made in full prior to any filming.
- Owner can request and negotiate a security deposit.
- Owner should have agreed upon specifics in writing and may wish to add following statement:
The applicant (film company) agrees to indemnify owner and to
be solely and absolutely liable upon any and all claims, suits, and
judgements against the owner and or the applicant for personal
injuries and property damages arising out of or occurring during
the activities of the applicant, his (its) employees or otherwise.
This agreement can be revoked at any time.
- The filmmaker must provide a certificate of insurance, including a hold harmless clause for protection in case of any injuries on the property. Your policy should include coverage of third party rentals for property damage and liability. A copy of the insurance certificate should be given to the owner before any crew comes on the property.
It is important to understand that unforeseen circumstances can result in the need for more time, space, personnel. This is the norm with film making and a contingency plan should be in place.
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