Make Your Home a Star

NYC neighborhood
Photo Courtesy of Steven Pisano via Flickr Creative Commons.

Every day films, TV shows, commercials, music videos and other productions film on location in private homes, apartments and businesses. When a production uses a private location, the arrangement is a private negotiation that takes place between the owners and the production, and the amount of money paid by a production to a home or business owner varies dramatically. The Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting is not involved in these negotiations.

While the Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting does not maintain a list of private locations interested in hosting production, the following guidelines may assist residents with the process of hosting film and television productions in their homes or business. We recommend working with your coop/condo boards, management offices and neighbors at the earliest possible moment before shooting commences in your home.

The following guidelines do not constitute legal advice from the City of New York, and you should not rely on them as legal advice. The City of New York makes no promises, representations or warranties concerning the content of these documents, and shall have no liability, damages penalties, claims, costs, charges or expenses in connection with any filming activity agreements that may be entered into by individuals and production companies.

These suggested guidelines are posted for your reference and convenience. You may want to consult an attorney to review any arrangements you make with a production company to conduct a shoot in your residence.

Step 1

Publicize yourself. First, you need to make yourself known to location scouts and location services. Location scouts are professionals hired by a film, television, commercial or music video project to find interior and exterior locations that are consistent with the specifications of the script. Finding your way into their files will increase the likelihood that your property will be chosen for a new project.

Location services are brokers with whom you may list your property for use by any film or video project. A percentage of the rental fee is usually collected by the location service, if your property is chosen through one of these services. These services are mainly used by producers and location scouts.

Partial list of online services that list location scouts and services:

  • New York Production Guide ( )
  • 411 Publishing ( )
  • ( )

Step 2

Gather information. Once your property has been chosen for a shoot, start gathering information. Use the following as a checklist to identify the production company that is interested in using your property.

Identify the type of production: Feature, TV Movie, Commercial, Music Video, Episodic Television. Name of the production company and project title. Address and phone number for the production company. Parent company/studio information, if applicable. Proof of insurance. Ensure that the production company lists you and your property as additionally insured on the certificate, and obtain a copy of the policy. A standard location filming insurance policy covers liability up to $1 million. Does the NYC Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting have a record of this company? To verify, contact us at (212) 489-6710.

Step 3

Logistics of the Shoot. Below are some considerations that you should keep in mind during the decision making process. Number of individuals in cast and crew. Ask how many production vehicles will be used for your particular location and parked outside of your property. You should be aware that the trucks can vary in size from 15 to 65 feet. The average truck is 35 feet. Number of shoot, prep and wrap days. Number of day versus night shoots. Shoot hours for each day. Identify any special effects; e.g. prop guns, weapons. If so, ensure that production notifies NYPD Movie/TV Unit. For fire effects, production should notify FDNY. Should you have any questions, please contact the NYC Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting us at (212) 489-6710. Identify building fire regulations and safety procedures.

Request a "walk through" with crew members at your location. A "walk through" is the process whereby the creative team reviews filming activity and its impact on your location.

Inquire how the shooting activity will impact other tenants/neighbors/residents.

Step 4

Charges. Before setting your fees, keep the following points in mind as background as you determine final costs. There are many types of productions with varying budgets. If you want to host this type of business, remain flexible about setting your fee.

Consider the following factors: Budgets range from very low to high, in approximately this order: Independent feature films, episodic television shows, commercials, TV Movies and major studio features. Check with your co-op/condo board or management office regarding any building fees (i.e. elevator operator, maintenance personnel, electrician.) Decide whether you will set an all-inclusive fee, or a rental fee plus itemized charges (i.e. electricity, water, phone, furniture use, etc.)

Step 5

Deal Points. We recommend that you establish the following written guidelines, and/or include them in your contract: Advise the production company of the permission process and any applicable waiting periods. Payment schedule: Request full or partial payment prior to commencement of shooting, and designate form of payment. It is recommended that you request a deposit for damages. List any restrictions on the use of your property. List any restrictions on the access to your property, (e.g. limited hours of operation for passenger/freight elevator[s].) Determine whether you or the production company is responsible for paying electrical fees. Include information about maintenance schedules that the production must work around. Ensure that the placement of lights will not damage any property. Pre-approve the use of any material that may damage your walls, doors, beams or moldings; such as nails, tape, pins or clamps. Floor covering should be provided to protect surfaces. Remove valuables and breakables. If you are displaced, hotel accommodations should be provided. Stipulate that the production is responsible for cleanup and trash removal.

Step 6

That's A Wrap! All good guests leave the space they are occupying in the same, or better condition than it was in before they arrived. Here are some tips for ensuring that the production you are hosting finishes on the best terms.

When the project is "wrapped" (a/k/a completed), you should immediately conduct an inspection of your property with a representative from the production company. All trash should be removed; furniture and valuables accounted for and returned to their original position. If there is any damage, report it to the production company rep and contact the person you negotiated your contract with. It is the responsibility of the production company to return your location to its original look and condition.