What to Expect
For those of you new to film and not sure what to expect, please read through this carefully. The process will be very similar, whether it’s your home or business property and whether you are dealing with a TV commercial or a large film, you can expect the following with few variations:
It starts with a scout. Someone may have knocked on your door and left a letter or flyer in your mailbox, looking for locations for a specific film shoot, or just to be considered for a future opportunity. Perhaps you reached out to us with interest in pursuing the opportunity.
Whatever the case, you should do your due diligence and check the scout’s credentials. Ask for their business card. If they are looking for a place for a particular production you can ask for the contact info for that company and call them and check their website to verify their legitimacy. You can also contact the Toronto film and television office at City Hall to verify the scout’s credentials. If the scout has worked in the city recently and is legitimate the film office will be able to verify working with them.
TORONTO FILM, TELEVISION & DIGITAL MEDIA OFFICE, Film & Entertainment Industries, City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, Main Floor, North Rotunda, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2, 416 338 FILM (3456), firstname.lastname@example.org www.toronto.ca/tfto
Photograph the Property
The next step is to arrange for the scout, or someone they work with, to return at a time that is convenient to photograph your property. They will extensively photograph the exterior and interior of the property for their database so that everything is referenced and a return visit to photograph something they didn’t capture is avoided. You never know what area inside and out a production may require, so it’s better to get it all documented. If any areas are completely off limits to filming let them know and they will not photograph that area. It is recommended you make as much space available as possible because it will increase your chances of getting booked.
You should also consider making things clean and free of clutter for the photographer because a clean slate makes it easier for creative to visualize the potential of the space, and in turn improve your chances of selection. You will likely be asked to sign a property release allowing the scout to share those images for film-scouting purposes. Address and contact information is never made public. Some images may appear on their website as promotion but no images with family pictures, personal items, or addresses, etc. will appear.
Once in the location database you will be contacted when a job comes up that matches your property. This could take days, or months…every job is different and assessed on a case by case basis, so it’s difficult to predict when your property will be considered. If your property is of interest to the production, then expect to be contacted and presented with a budget and dates the production will require, and if they work for you then your location will be presented as an option. Multiple properties will be presented to the production company at this point so don’t be discouraged if you aren’t chosen for the next stage. Most municipalities allow for two film productions per year. It is possible to have more than that if production can canvas the neighborhood and obtain a favorable approval rating from neighbours. Approval ratings vary from town to town.
Once presented, the director and production will shortlist a few candidates that they feel meets the requirements of the production. You can then expect the scout to schedule a visit to your property with the director/producer and sometimes art director to view your property in person. The director will usually photograph the space on this visit to get frames that match his or her vision for the job. The photos of the shortlisted properties are then reviewed and a property for filming is chosen.
Property Chosen for Filming
If your property is chosen for filming, the scout or location manager will contact you and gather information to prepare a contract, insurance for your property, and cheque for payment.
The technical scout usually happens a few days before filming but dates are determined on a job-by-job basis. This scout involves people from various production departments (usually 5 -10 people) visiting your property and discussing what is required for preparation and the day of filming.
Prep / Shoot / Wrap
Generally every job will have a prep day(s), a shoot day(s), and a wrap day(s).
At least a couple days prior to any permitted filming, the production company will send out filming notifications to your neighbours. This letter usually states the Who, What, When and Where’s of production. Therefore, area residents are aware that the production will be in their neighbourhood. This letter will state the contact information for the City and the production company should residents wish to voice any concerns.
During prep days the location team will photograph everything so they know how your home is set up, and then they will lay mats to protect the floors, put protection on the walls, and move furniture and cover furniture as required to get the area ready for art dressing and filming. They will usually prep at least one washroom on site for use by clients or producers etc. If they are only shooting in one room expect them to prep and occupy other rooms for clients and gear storage etc. Once they are finished prepping, the art department will arrive and start set dressing and work on getting the location picture-ready. Prep days are generally not longer than 8 hours but again each job is different and should be taken on a case-by-case. Some preps are more extensive than others. If there are extremely delicate, valuable or sentimental items in your home it is always suggested you put them away prior to the prep team arriving. Damage to these kinds of items are a rarity and theft of any items is unheard of.
Your Location Manager will discuss a schedule with you prior to the shoot but please note that Shoot Days are generally permitted for the hours of 7:00am to 11:00pm as per the noise bylaw restrictions in most municipalities. Schedules differ but please plan for this as a worst case. Shooting outside of these hours is permitted with special permission, which is obtained by canvassing the neighborhood for approval and presenting a favorable approval rate to the municipality. The shoot day(s) are the busiest time. There can be upwards of 50 people in and around the property and 12+ production vehicles on the street and in driveways, in addition to the personal vehicles of crew members. It may seem overwhelming at first but rest assured the crews are always professional and courteous. The Location Manager will have a copy of the filming permit on hand and it will note where shooting is taking place and where production vehicles will be parked.
Once filming has completed and gear and crew have cleared the property, the wrap team will arrive to remove the floor mats and all of the wall protection, return furniture to its original location and leave everything exactly how it was found upon entry to the property. Following that a cleaning crew will come in and thoroughly clean all areas occupied by the production. Damage to the property is quite rare and when it does occur it is usually minor things like wall scuffs or paint chips. The wrap team will always arrange to have these spots cleaned or painted on any non- pre-existing damage. After everything is reset and cleaned it is good practice to do a walkthrough of the property with the Location Manager to sign off on everything being returned to your satisfaction.
Additional Information to Consider
· Property owners are always welcome to remain for the duration of filming if they wish. It is strongly recommended that children and pets are vacated for the duration of filming as it becomes a work environment and there are many pieces of heavy / expensive equipment, lights, and cables / tripping hazards. Most property owners choose not to be present and turn their keys over to the Location Manager. Rest assured whether you are present or not your property will be treated with the utmost respect
· In some cases where production is filming in bedrooms or kitchens, it may make it impossible for homeowners to remain home overnight comfortably. In such cases the production company may arrange for hotel accommodations. Sometimes these costs are already worked into the fee arrangement or they are paid out separately on top of the location fee if not booked directly by the production. Every film budget and timeline is different, so it’s decided on a job-by-job basis and not always applicable. It’s good practice to arrange alternate plans for such a situation.
· Location Fees vary depending on the job. Generally a Location Fee can be between $1000 and $3000 per shoot day. Prep and wrap days would usually bill for half the shoot day fee. IE; $2000 shoot day would be $1000 prep and $1000 wrap = $4000 for the job. Be open minded, because different jobs have different requirements, so you may be approached for less or more money depending on the scope of the production. Rest assured the compensation will always be deemed a fair offer for what is required. For example, if the production only needs to film in the front yard the fee would be lower.
· Please be aware that if you are very particular about your home or business and uncomfortable or anxious with the idea of 50 or so people descending upon it for a few days at a time, then this may not be the best venture for you. Please carefully consider if the compensation outweighs the inconvenience it presents. If it does, then it’s a great way to make some extra cash.
· If you are not the Property Owner or Manager that has the authority to grant production access to the property it is necessary that you provide written consent from the owner or manager prior to the production gaining access.
· It is part of our job to explain the process to you and answer any questions or concerns you may have. Please feel free at anytime to reach out. We want this to be a positive experience for everyone. It’s our goal to leave you wanting to recommend the experience to your friends and neighbours.
Thank you for being a part of Ontario’s film industry